Negus Mikael

mohammed ali, negus mikael

Mohammed Ali or Negus Mikael


King or Negus Mikael (1850-1918) was born in Wello/Wollo as a Muslim by the name of Imam Mohammed Ali given to him by his half Somali and half Oromo father Ali Abba Bula.

Queen Workitu of Wello was a close relation to Mikael who was also nobility, and through her he would come to meet Menelik, the Prince and soon to become King of Shewa.



negus mikael of wollo


In 1874, King Menelik in a show of friendship gave Mohammed Ali (Mikael) a position of power as the Governor of Wello.

Mikael was known to be an exceptional military commander and he fought alongside King Menelik in a battle around Gojjam.

Unfortunately, upon his return to Wello, he found that anti-Menelik forces were threatening an uprising.


king mikael of wello ethiopia


Emperor Yohannes IV had an apparently stronger military than King Menelik and because of this Mohammed would abandon his loyalty to the Shewan King and side with the Emperor.

This tactic proved to be a disaster as the Shewan army laid waste to Wello but yet in still, in 1878 Emperor Yohannes was able to convince Mohammed Ali to formally side with him.

Within a short period of time, a decree was announced by Emperor Yohannes IV and the Boru Meda Council ordering all Muslims with authority in Ethiopia to be baptized as Christians.


negus mikael wollo ethiopia


Mohammed Ali faithfully obeyed and converted with Emperor Yohannes IV as his godfather.

His Christian name became Mikael and he was promoted with the title of Ras or Duke. His attempts to convert his people were met with resistance and many chose to flee to sympathetic areas such as Harar, Jimma, and Metema.

Mikael's old friend and nemesis Menelik would eventually ascend to the throne as Emperor of Ethiopia, and he would apparently forgive Mikael for his past disloyalty.


mohammed ali wollo


Ras Mikael would marry Emperor Menelik's daughter Shoarega Menelik, and she would become his third of four wives.

When the Italians invaded Ethiopia in 1896, Ras Mikael would fight alongside Emperor Menelik at the infamous Battle of Adwa.

Ras Mikael is remembered for his heroism and brilliance as the leader of a group of Oromo horseback fighters who were feared for their military prowess.


negus king mikael with lij iyasu son


By 1913, Emperor Menelik would die leaving instructions for Ras Mikael's son Lij Iyasu to become the next ruler.

Ras Tessema Nadew was appointed as Regent until Lij Iyasu, Menelik's grandson became capable of ruling. Unfortunately, Ras Tessema passed away within a year leaving the 18 year old Lij Iyasu on his own in a perilous situation.

The nobility and church never really accepted him and were constantly angling to remove him.



Lij Iyasu chose to turn to his father, and appointed him king or Negus Mikael and he would be the true ruler behind the throne.

By 1916, his opposition found a viable reason to overthrow him and did so through a council of church leaders and nobles.

The claimed that Lij Iyasu had the intention to convert to Islam and was siding with the Muslims within the Central Powers of World War One.

Lij Iyasu's sister-in-law and Emperor Menelik's daughter Wozero Zewditu was made the successor to the throne and became Queen of Kings Empress Zewditu I.


negus mikael mohammed ali


Negus Mikael enraged by their act of deposing his son, led an army of about 80,000 men to attack Shewa.

The plan was for Lij Iyasu with his own army to meet him there but he was delayed and failed to reach the battle on time.

The Battle of Segale saw the defeat of Negus Mikael as his ammunition ran low and his cavalry and infantry were mowed down by the superior firing power of the Shewans.

Lij Iyasu arrived only to witness his father's defeat which led him to flee into hiding, while Negus Mikael was taken prisoner by the famed military commander Fitawrari Habte Giorgis Dinagde.


negus mikael generals defeat


Negus Mikael would end up being exiled on the island of Chabo in the Gurage area for over 2 years until his plea to be moved was accepted by Empress Zewditu.



He passed away 6 months later under house arrest at Emperor Menelik's country home in Holeta Genet.

Negus Mikael is remembered for many accomplishments; among them are his dedication to Orthodox Christianity and the many churches he built.

He also founded the city of Dessie which is now the capital of Wello.