Fasilides (Ge'ez ፋሲልደስ Fāsīladas, modern
Fāsīledes; throne name ʿAlam Sagad,
Ge'ez ዓለም ሰገድ ʿĀlam Sagad,
modern ʿĀlem Seged, "to whom the world bows"; 1603 - 18 October, 1667) was
(1632 - October 18,
1667) of Ethiopia, and a
member of the Solomonic
dynasty. He was the son of Susenyos and Empress Sultana Mogassa,
born at Magazaz in Shewa before
10 November 1603.
- For the Turkish suite, see Fasıl.
Fasilides was proclaimed Emperor in 1630 during a revolt led by
, but did not actually
reach the throne until his father abdicated in 1632. Fasilides
immediately acted to restore the power of the traditional Ethiopian Orthodox Church
for a new abuna
from the Patriarch of Alexandria
the ancient relationship that had been allowed to lapse. He
confiscated the lands of the Jesuits
and elsewhere in the empire, and
relegated them to Fremona
. When he heard that the
Portuguese bombarded Mombasa, Fasilides
assumed that Afonso Mendes, the
Roman Catholic prelate, was behind the act, and banished the
remaining Jesuits from his lands. Mendes and most of his
followers made their way back to Goa, being
robbed or imprisoned several times on the way.
In 1665, he
ordered the "Books of the Franks" -- the remaining religious
writings of the Catholics -- burnt.
commonly credited with founding the city of Gondar in 1636,
establishing it as Ethiopia's capital..
Whether or not a
community existed here before he made it his capital is unknown.
the buildings he had constructed there are the beginnings of the
complex later known as Fasil Ghebbi, as well as some of the earliest of Gondar's fabled
44 churches: Adababay Iyasus, Adababay Tekle Haymanot, Atatami
Mikael, Gimjabet Maryam, Fit Mikael, and Fit Abbo.
also credited with building seven stone bridges in Ethiopia; as a
result all old bridges in Ethiopia are often commonly believed to
be his work.
The rebellion of the Agaw
, which had begun under his father, continued
into his reign and for the rest of his reign he made regular
punitive expeditions into Lasta. The first, in 1637 went badly, for
at the Battle of Libo
panicked before the Agaw assault and their leader, Melka Kristos
, entered Fasilides' palace and
took the throne for himself. Fasilides quickly recovered and sent for help
to Qegnazmach Dimmo, governor of
Semien, and his brother Gelawdewos,
governor of Begemder.
These marched on Melka Kristos, who was still at Libo, where he was
killed and his men defeated. The next year Fasilides marched into
Lasta; according to James Bruce
Agaw retreated to their mountain strongholds, and "almost the whole
army perished amidst the mountains; great part from famine, but a
greater still from cold, a very remarkable circumstance in these
dispatched an embassy to India in 1664-5 to
congratulate Aurangzeb upon his accession
to the throne of the Mughal
after his son Dawit rebelled, Fasilides incarcerated him at
Wehni, reviving the ancient practice of
confining troublesome members of the Imperial family to a
mountaintop, as they had once been confined at Amba Geshen.
died at Azazo, five miles south of Gondar, and
his body was interred at St. Stephen's Monastery on Daga Island in Lake Tana.
When Nathaniel T. Kenney was shown
Fasilides' remains, he saw a smaller mummy also shared the coffin.
A monk told Kenney that it was Fasilides' seven-year-old son Isur,
who had been smothered in a crush of people who had come to pay the
new king homage.
- See the discussion in Solomon Getamun, History of the City
of Gondar (Africa World Press, 2005), pp.1-4
- Getamun, City of Gondar, p. 5
- There are many lists of these seven bridges; an example can be
found in Richard Pankhurst, Economic History of Ethiopia
(Addis Ababa: Haile Selassie University Press, 1968), pp. 297f
- James Bruce, Travels to Discover the Source of the
Nile (1805 edition), vol. 3, pp. 435-437
- Nathaniel T. Kenney, "Ethiopian Adventure", National
Geographic, 127 (1965), p.557.