Haile Selassie

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Selassie, Haile:

see Haile SelassieHaile Selassie
, [Amharic,=power of the Trinity], 1892–1975, emperor of Ethiopia (1930–74). He was born Tafari Makonnen, the son of a noted general and the grandnephew of Emperor Menelik II.
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Haile Selassie

(hī`lē səlăs`ē, –lä`sē), [Amharic,=power of the Trinity], 1892–1975, emperor of Ethiopia (1930–74). He was born Tafari Makonnen, the son of a noted general and the grandnephew of Emperor Menelik IIMenelik II
, 1844–1913, emperor of Ethiopia after 1889. He was originally ras (ruler) of Shoa (central Ethiopia). After the death (1868) of Emperor Tewodros II, Menelik, with Italian support, gained strength steadily. He seized the throne after Emperor Johannes IV died.
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. A brilliant student, he became a favorite of Menelik, who made him a provincial governor at 14. As a Coptic Christian, Tafari opposed Menelik's grandson and successor, Lij Yasu, who became a Muslim convert, and in 1916 compelled his deposition and established Menelik's daughter Zauditu as empress with himself as regent. In 1928, Tafari was crowned king of Ethiopia, and in 1930, after the empress's mysterious death, he became emperor as Haile Selassie, claiming to be a direct descendant of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. He attempted internal reforms and took great pride in the suppression of slavery. When Italy invaded Ethiopia in 1935, he personally led defending troops in the field, but in 1936 he was forced to flee to British protection. Twice (1936, 1938) he vainly appealed to the League of Nations for effective action against Italy. In 1940, after Italy entered World War II, he returned to Africa with British aid, and in 1941 he reentered Ethiopia and regained his throne. In the postwar period he instituted social and political reforms, such as establishing (1955) a national assembly. In the 1960s and 70s he worked for pan-African aims, particularly through the Organization of African Unity. In 1960 he crushed a revolt by a group of young intellectuals and army officers demanding an end to oppression and poverty. In 1974, however, the army was successful in seizing control. Haile Selassie was progressively stripped of his powers and finally, on Sept. 12, 1974, deposed. He was murdered in prison at the orders of the coup leaders in 1975.


See P. Schwab, ed., Ethiopia and Haile Selassie (1972); E. Ullendorf, ed. and tr., The Autobiography of Haile Selassie I (1976); H. G. Marcus, Haile Selassie I: The Formative Years (1987).

Haile Selassie


(name before coronation, Tafari Makonnen). Born July 23, 1892, in Edjersso, Harar Province; died Aug. 27, 1975, in Addis Ababa. Emperor of Ethiopia (1930–74).

Haile Selassie was the son of the statesman Ras Makonnen and the cousin of Emperor Menelik II. In 1916, during the reign of the Empress Zauditu, he was declared regent; after her death, he was crowned emperor of Ethiopia with the name Haile Selassie I on Nov. 2, 1930. Haile Selassie centralized the government of the country, abolished slavery and slavetrading, and introduced progressive measures in education and public health. In 1923 he secured Ethiopia’s admission to the League of Nations, and in 1931 he proclaimed the first constitution in Ethiopia. During the Italo-Ethiopian War (1935–36), he went into exile; he was active in enlisting the aid of foreign powers in the liberation of Ethiopia. On May 5, 1941, after the greater part of Ethiopia had been cleared of the Italian invaders, he returned to Addis Ababa. Haile Selassie was one of the founders of the Organization of African Unity.

Since he represented the interests of the feudal class, Haile Selassie did not aspire to carry out the sweeping socioeconomic reforms that would meet the demands of the age. The sharp deepening of the socioeconomic and political crisis in Ethiopia in early 1974 incited a revolutionary coup, as a result of which Haile Selassie was deposed on Sept. 12, 1974.

Haile Selassie

title of Ras Tafari Makonnen. 1892--1975, emperor of Ethiopia (1930--36; 1941--74). During the Italian occupation of Ethiopia (1936--41), he lived in exile in England. He was a prominent figure in the Pan-African movement: deposed 1974
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