It was at this moment of utter desperation, that Juan Bermudez was dispatched to Lisbon to plead for help from the King of Portugal. It is at this critical point that the seeds of future conflict were planted. Bermudez claimed that Libne Dingel had agreed that if the Portuguese could free his people from the moslem yoke, then he would proclaim the Roman Catholic Church to be the established faith of his Empire, that the Ethiopian church would submit to the Pope, and that Libne Dingel had removed the Coptic Bishop of Ethiopia, Abune Markos from his see, and had enthroned Bermudez as Bishop of the Ethiopian church in his place. Bermudez presented these claims to both the king of Portugal and to the Pope. The so called “Settlement of Libne Dingel” would for years be the basis of claims by the Vatican of hegemony over the Ethiopian Church. If this act was indeed carried out by a desperate Emperor, it was very ill advised considering the real and significant doctrinal differences between the Church of Alexandria, which Ethiopia was a daughter of, and the Church of Rome. Many European historians have maintained it’s authenticity, while Ethiopian sources reject it as an invention of the ambitious Bermudez. There are no surviving writen texts to prove that this Settlement did indeed take place. Never the less, rather than take the more conventional route to Portugal by trying to board a ship to India, Bermudez used the much more dangerous but less obvious route of Nubia, Egypt and Jerusalem to get to Rome with the Emperor’s plea. He was captured by the Turks, who perhaps didn’t realize that he was the ambassador of the Emperor of Ethiopia to the King of Portugal and to the Pope. He escaped and finally arrived at the Holy See in 1536. He was recieved in audience by Pope Paul III, and horrified the Pontiff with his eyewitness account of the burning of great churches and monasteries, of vast libraries of ancient texts put to the torch, of monks, nuns and deacons butchered and burned, of a fugitive Emperor and Imperial family who claimed decent from Solomon himself, hiding in caves and forests. He repeated his preformance for King John III of Portugal. King John was in the process of appointing a Esteban Da Gama as Vice-Roy of India, and ordered him now to send military aid to the Emperor of Ethiopia. Da Gama (Son of the famous navigator, Vasco Da Gama) prepared to send 400 troops armed with the best in Portuguese armor and firearms under the command of his brother Christophoro Da Gama to Ethiopia. It seemed that Christian Ethiopia was about to be saved from certain distruction, and Libne Dingel restored to the throne of his fathers. Fate had different ideas.
Following the departure of Bermudez, the Emperor had left the Amhara lands of Beghemedir and Amhara Sayint, and entered Tigrai to fight on. During his campaing here, an epidemic and a famine broke out and decimated his forces. On Good Friday, of 1536, the forces of Gragn’s general, Abu Bakr Kateem attacked the Emperor’s traveling party and after a long and bloody battle the Emperor found that his loyal generals, Azaj Tekle Giorgis, Azaj Amha, Azaj Michael Derese, and his confessor from the Debre Bizen Monastery, Abba Tinsae Christos were all dead. The devastated Emperor carried bravely on. Shortly there after, he recieved even worse news. The Imperial family had split up to make it harder for Gragn to eliminate them all, and his sons Fiqtor (Victor) and Minas had gone to Shewa with an army and had battled the moslems at Dewaro. The elder Prince, Fiqtor had been killed, and the younger, Minas had been captured. In an act of his supreme contempt for the House of Solomon, Gragn enslaved Minas, and sent him as a personal slave and servant to Zebid Pasha, the Turkish ruler of Yemen. The Emperor was a devastated and broken man when he recieved this last awful news. One son dead, another captured and enslaved, it seems that Libne Dingel, Wenag Seged, “He to Whom the Lions Bow” could take no more. The broken hearted Emperor traveled to the impregnable natural fortress of the monastery of Debre Damo, and encamped near by on an equally formidable mountaintop. The local ruler, Bahir Negash Yishaq, was a maternal cousin of the Emperor and so perhaps he fealt secure against betrayal. While there, the Emperor fell ill and weakened, giving up hope of saving his people, and devastated by the fate of his sons. Finally in November of 1540, Libne Dingel, Wanag Seged, King of Kings of Ethiopia died at Debre Damo. Athough Gragn had been unable to successfully assault Debre Damo due to the sheer cliffs that surround it. The monks were so affraid of his wrath that they refused to allow the royal retainers to bury the Emperor at the monastery. His body was taken to Debaroa, the seat of the Bahir Negash, and after some considerable time spent by Bahir Negash Yishaq pleading with the monks, the remains were finally taken to Debre Damo and buried with pomp. Libne Dengil is regarded by Ethiopians as a tragic figure who started out his reign with able and compitent regents, who then started ruling on his own as a foolish and rash youth, but who matured to become a pious, holy, prayerful, yet brave and resolute monarch who fought valiantly to protect his church and his Empire. He was unlucky.