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Conflict In Late 19th Century Ethiopia
Timeline Part 1: 1853-1882
Conflict in Ethiopia in the late 19th century
Dajazmach Kassa Heyku is crowned Emperor Tewodros II.
General Napier's expedition to Ethiopia begins with a 350 mile march from Massawa to Magdala with 5,000 British and Indian redcoats (at a cost of £9 million to the British taxpayer). Emperor Tewodros II had taken British missionaries in Ethiopia hostage when he became discouraged over negotiations to send a "joint expedition to conquer Jerusalem." He had expected them to provide the arms and ammunition for the venture. Napier was sent to secure the release of the hostages.
13 Apr British and Indian troops defeat the Ethiopian army at Magdala. Tewodros II shoots himself (with a revolver once given to him as a present by Queen Victoria) rather than suffer the humiliation of submitting. Napier immediately turns round and marches back to Massawa, leaving a 'gift' of surplus stores (worth approximately half-a-million pounds) of mostly arms and ammunition. Napier is assisted by Kassa Mercha, a member of the Tigre royal family, who rebelled when the head of the Ethiopian church was imprisoned by Tewodros II.
Italian Lazarist missionary, Giuseppe Sapeto, purchases Red Sea port of Assab from a local Sultan It becomes the property of a private Italian shipping company.
Kassa Mercha is crowned Yohannes IV at Axum. He wants to regain the Christian empire of Ethiopia, split in civil war for almost two centuries, and to extend its frontiers to the east - especially to the port of Massawa, an essential gateway to trade. Massawa, unfortunately is controlled by the Egyptian Khedive Ismael (Ismael Pasha).
16 Nov Yohannes IV defeats an invading Egyptian army at Gundat.
7 Mar Khedive Ismael's Egyptian forces are again defeated by Yohannes IV. The battle at Gura. involves 12,000 well-equipped Egyptians, led by European and American mercenaries. Of the 6,000 Egyptians that take part in the battle, 4,000 are either killed, wounded or captured (and then killed).
13 Jun Start of Berlin Congress
General Charles George 'Chinese' Gordon approaches Yohannes IV on behalf of the Egyptian Khedive to negotiate a treaty of friendship. Yohannes demands are to great (a large indemnity, the return of occupied territories and the coastal area around Massawa, as well as the right to appoint his own bishops to the Ethiopian church). Inevitably the talks fail.
Jun Khedive Ismael (Ismael Pasha) is deposed and replaced by his son Tewfik Pasha (due to the considerable international pressure over debt incurred by Ismael's predecessor Muhammad Said whilst modernising Egypt).
Mohammed Ahmad ibn Abdullah, proclaims himself to be The Mahdi, sent by Allah to purify Islam, drive out the infidels (Europeans and their allies), and create a new age of Islamic glory.
Red Sea port of Assab becomes the centre of an Italian colony.

Next page > Part 2: 1884-1891 > Page 1, 2, 3, 4

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