Although he had been made governor of Beghemidir, Ras Gugsa fealt greatly slighted by the Shewans, and by King Taffari in particular. The Shewans and Tigreans had been responsible for the removal from state responsibility of his aunt Empress Taitu. They had later conspired to remove Lij Eyasu and place his own wife on the throne on the condition that he separate from her, and he sent to Gondar to remove him from proximity to the throne. He perhaps believed that he was rightfully the person most entitled to be regent for his wife. He was assuredt that if he rose up in rebellion, he would probably be able to count on the support of the two Princes of Tigrai, Ras Seyoum and Ras Araya, as well as the Prince of Gojjam, Ras Hailu. Indeed Ras Gugsa corresponded with Ras Hailu Tekle Haimanot, and the two princes had agreed in principle to march on Addis Ababa and remove the King-regent from power. Gugsa’s letters to the Tigrean Princes remained unanswered, and indeed, neither of these princes had any intention of joining him in his rebellion. Seeing the attitude of the Tigrean princes, and realizing that he would get no direct benefit out of the removal of King Taffari and the empowering of Ras Gugsa, Ras Hailu also backed out of the rebellion. Ras Gugsa’s resentment against Addis Ababa and the King had increased as time went by, and in 1929 he gathered together a huge army of Beghemidir, Simien, and Yeju loyalists of his family, and marched on Shewa. As news of his preparations reached Addis Ababa, the Empress frantically tried to broker a truce and tried to desuade her husband from marching on the capital. He ignored her pleas. “In the name of your father Menelik II and your mother Empress Taitu, by their bones I beg you, for the sake of the Savior of the World whom you love, I beg you!” pleaded Empress Zewditu to her husband. When he failed to listen to her pleading, she sadly gave up, and gave her political support and blessing to the forces of the central government. The government of the King-regent ordered an Army north to meet Ras Gugsa and do battle, and the two forces met at Anchiem plain on April 30th, 1930. Before the battle began, the government engaged in a first for Ethiopia, the use of airplanes in battle. Two short flights took place. The first flight was used to drop leaflets on Ras Gugsa’s army which bore messages from the newly arrived Coptic Archbishop Kyrilos excommunicating anyone who was found to have fought against the government, and another that bore letters from the King-Regent and the Empress, that declaired Ras Gugsa a rebel. This psychological warfare worked on some of Ras Gugsa’s forces who then began to desert. The second flight then took place in which a bomb was dropped on Ras Gugsas forces and caused widespread panic as such a thing had never before been seen in Ethiopia. Thus the bitter battle of Anchiem began. By the end of the day, Ras Gugsa was dead and his army crushed. The conservatives having lost every attempt at removing the Regent and his party from the road to power, now saw their last hopes dashed. The victory of the progressive party was definitive, and the only thing that stood between them and complete victory was the person of the Empress of Ethiopia, Zewditu Queen of Kings.
The news of the defeat of Ras Gugsa Welle at Anchiem had barely begun to circulate in Addis Ababa and hardly any celebrating begun the next day, when suddenly the capital was plunged into mourning with the death of Empress Zewditu on March 1st, 1930. The fact that the Empress died the very next day, and the lack of transparency as far as the announcement of her death would lend the event an air of sinister mystery that would never be dispelled. Recent revelations from unpublished first hand account have revealed that Empress Zewditu was never actually told that her husband was dead. A few days earlier, the Empress had taken to her bed with a high fever, and what appeared to be symptoms of the flu. The devout Empress was also fasting for Lent, and refused to eat before 3pm when mass was over as was the practice during Lent. Her doctors insisted that she had to eat, and particularly they wanted her to drink milk in order to strenghten her, but both the Empress and her confessor were adamant that she would not violate the prohibition against meat and dairy products during lent. The Empress began to weaken as her fever continued to rage. It had been a palace secret that the Empress had long suffered from diabeties, and that in addition to western medicine, she also took traditional folk treatments, and visited shrines to bathe in holy water and holy springs. The tradition of keeping the physical ailments of the monarchs secret was an ancient one in Ethiopia, and often served to fan rumors of poisoning when the news of the monarchs death was made public. On the morning of her death, Holy water from the Kidane Meheret (Our Lady Covenant of Mercy) Church was placed in a large container and the Empress was immersed in it for a cure. The Empress became unconcious, possible from the shock of having her feverish body placed in the frigid water, and died late that day. There are those who believe that the Empress was poisoned as soon as news of her husbands defeat was certain, in order to clear the way for the progressive camp to power, and the King-Regent to the Imperial Throne. These people claim that the timing of her death, immediately after the defeat of her husband, was just too coincidental. They ask why there had been no public sign that the Empress was ill if indeed she was. However, Zewditu’s illness was a closely guarded secret which only the top ministers, and close relatives were aware of. Members of the diplomatic corps reported to their home governments that the Empress had been taken early that morning to be emmersed in a container of frigid holy water for her ailments, and that she had promptly gone into shock and died. Members of the government were possibly intent on keeping this information from leaking out, as they wouldn’t want to be held responsible for allowing this immersion in her poor state of health. The diplomats reported that she had not been told of her husbands death. The recently revealed first hand accounts that have been quoted and published in the Amharic book “Taffari Makonnen, the Long Journey to Power.” by Ambassador Zewde Retta confirms this account. However, popular legent states that the Empress fainted upon hearing of the death of her husband, and had then died of the shock of the news. Popular myth likes to paint the picture of the pious Empress dying of a broken heart. The romantic couple forced apart finally united in death. Romantics and conspiracy theorists aside, no firm historic evidence has ever been brought forward to back these theories. Her Swiss doctor would report years later that her cause of death was diabeties, and it is this that is stated in Emperor Haile Selassies autobiography, and in a book by General Virgin, a Swedish military advisor. Nevertheless, the death of the Empress continues to be the subject of speculation. Her Imperial Majesty, Empress Zewditu, Elect of God, Conquering Lion of Judah, Queen of Kings of Ethiopia, was laid to rest in the Masoleum Church of St. Mary Ba-eta that she had built to house the remains of her father Menelik II. The Empress was placed in an ornate sarcophagus next to those of her father and his wife Empress Taitu. She was the only monarch in over a century to recieve a state burial at the time of her death, and also the last one. As her coffin was carried in her final grand procession around the Church before her burial, Abune Abraham, the Archbishop of Gojjam is said to have said to the wailing crowds, “The Orthodox Church wails with you at the death of our good and great Queen”. Empress Zewditu is remembered largely for her piety, her gentleness, her generosity, her humaneness and lack of airs, and her devotion to her father’s memory.