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ETHIOPIA

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ETHIOPIA
THE IMPERIAL ARMS
The Lion and the Cross The Achievement Modern Times The Italian Interlude

Back to Ethiopia The Lion and the Cross


The lion and the cross depicted in the report of Ulrich Richental and shown here, matches the description of the King of Ardeslib as the defender of the church (of Nubia). The three coats of arms in the report of Richental suggest that the three delegates represented the administrative, the religious and the armed powers of the Ethiopian state, the arms with the balance and strewn with crosses symbolizing the judicature exercised by the clergy. This, together with the Abuna we met before, makes the organization of the Ethiopian state consisting of a supreme spiritual leader, a chief executive, the administrators, the judges and the warriors. This very much resembles the organisation of the Mameluk state in Egypt (1250-1517) which consisted of the Caliph, the Sultan, the men of the pen, the men of the turban and the men of the sword. [1]

The arms with the lion and the cross in the Constanz Chronicle[2] Argent, a lion rampant Or with a latin cross Gules.

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The coat of arms, Argent, a lion rampant Or, in his forepaws a latin cross Gules, was copied by other European authors in the 16th and 17th centuries, for example by Sebastian Mnster and Abraham Ortelius. [3] After the Historia de Ethiopia of Manoel dAlmeida of the middle of the 17th century, the cross in the paws of the lion was changed into a crucifix and this was copied throughout the 18th and 19th centuries until the end of anarchy in Ethiopia in 1855. [4]

` Arms of Ethiopia by Sebastian Mnster, 1550.

1 2
Arms of Ethiopia in European sources:

1. 17th century a ribbon with the motto VICIT LEO DE TRIBU JUDA added; 2. From Lencyclopdie de Diderot et dAlembert (1751-72), a crown of thorns and two whips added; 3. 19th century.

Modern Times
Menelik II *1844-1913 King of Shoa 1855-1913 Emperor 1889 -1913

Emperor Menelik II undertook a throughgoing restyling of the imperial presentation. That, also, is demonstrated by the new title of Elect of God, Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah and King of Kings of Ethiopia he adopted [5]. The restyling started with the adoption of a coat of arms which differed slightly from the coat of arms passed on in European sources. In its place, the coat of arms as depicted in the report of the Council of Konstantz was more or less readopted, the lion passant instead of rampant now, the colors reversed, all like on the seal of 1874. The shield crowned with the imperial crown.

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A second coat of arms was adopted about 1894 when a postal service was organized and coins were struck. This coat of arms was: Arms: Argent, masoned Sable, a natural lion passant guardant Gules, imperially crowned Or, keeping in his sinister claw a procession cross with a streamer of the national colors, standing on a green field. Motto: He is Born the Lion of Judah, in amharic, on a listel, its ends knotted, Argent above the arms. Garland: Branches of coffee and cotton. [6]

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A version of this arms is on stamps issued 1894 shown here.

The Achievement
On an uncertain date but somewhat before 1911, an Imperial Achievement was designed which replaced the older coat of arms. [7] The achievement is as follows:

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Emblem: The Lions Throne of Solomon, on its seat an orb proper, on its back a Solomons seal. Exterior Ornaments: The archangels Michael and Gabriel, vested Or and Vert, on their breasts a square cross cross patonce, above the throne an open bible between the amharic letters Alef , Wau and Alef ; before the throne the Ethiopian Lion, walking to the dexter. Motto: The Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah, on his procession cross a note. Mantle: On two branches of olive, Gules, lined Argent, fringed and tasseled Or, crowned with the Imperial Crown of Ethiopia. This achievement demonstrates the claim of the Ethiopian rulers that they descended from Solomon, king of the united monarchy of Israel (970-931 BC) and which served to legitimize their power. Its central symbol is the Throne of Solomon, mentioned in the Bible: 1 Kings 10 : 18 Moreover the king made a great throne of ivory, and overlaid it with the best gold. 19 The throne had six steps, and the top of the throne was round behind: and there were stays on either side on the place of the seat, and two lions stood beside the stays. 20 And twelve lions stood there on the one side and on the other upon the six steps: there was not the like made in any kingdom.

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2 Chronicles 9 : 17 Moreover the king made a great throne of ivory, and overlaid it with pure gold. 18 And there were six steps to the throne, with a footstool of gold, which were fastened to the throne, and stays on each side of the sitting place, and two lions standing by the stays: 19 And twelve lions stood there on the one side and on the other upon the six steps. There was not the like made in any kingdom.

The Lions Throne was from ancient Egyptian times the seat of the ruler. In the European middle ages it was the seat of kings but only in a very few cases these thrones can be interpreted as the Throne of King Solomon. Such an exeption is the throne on which the Roman Emperor Henry VI (1190-97) is sitting in the manuscript of Petrus of Ebulo. [8] On the back of the throne is a hexagram which can be interpreted as the symbol of King David, the father of Solomon and in this case the symbol of the Ethiopian Solomonic Dynasty. The orb is the common symbol of the Empire, the orb with the cross the symbol of a Christian Empire. The archangels Gabriel and Michael are also mentioned in the Bible [9] They are the main spokesman and the main warrior of the Jewish and Christian God and in this sense they were also adopted by Islam. The two archangels are always depicted winged and armed, Gabriel holding a balance as a symbol of the Last Judgement, and Michael a palmleaf as a symbol of Victory. In the time of the designing of the Ethiopian achievement the two archangels were the supporters of the arms of the Emperors of Russia. The crown is the symbol of administrative power, the Imperial crown of Ethiopia the symbol of the supreme administrative power with which the Emperor is invested. On the front of the crown is the effigy of St. George slaying the dragon. St. George can generally be interpreted as the personification of the Defender of the Faith and in this way the qualification of Servant of the Cross of the mediaeval rulers of Ardeslib became a part of the Ethiopian imperial presentation. Haile Selassie *1892-1975 Regent 1916-1930 King 1928 Emperor 1930-1974

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Imperial achievement of Haile Selassie.


It is the same as the achievement of his predecessor Menelik II, but the lion walking to the sinister, keeping the processional cross in his dexter paw, the note replaced by a streamer in the national colours.

The Italian Interlude


AFRICA ORIE TALE ITALIA A 9.V.1936-27.XI.1941

An achievement for the Emperor Victor Emanuel III of Savoy was adopted by Royal decree of 31 of August 1939 and published in the Gazzetta Ufficiale of 16 April 1940.

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Foto Archivio Centrale dello Stato, Roma.

The decree reads:

GAZZETTA UFFICIALE
DEL REG O DITALIA Roma - Martedi, 16 aprile 1940 - Anno XVIII
(pp. 1373-1374)

REGIO DECRETO 31 Agosto 1939-XVII, n. 2225. Determinazione della foggia dello Stemma Imperiale dellAfrica Orientale Italiana. VITTORIO EMA UELE III
PER GRAZIA DI DIO E PER VOLO T DELLA AZIO E

RE DITALIA E DI ALBA IA IMPERATORE DETIOPIA Volendo determinare la foggia dello Stemma Imperiale dellAfrica Orientale Italiana;

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Veduti i Regi decreti-legge 9 maggio 1936-XIV, n. 754, covertito nella legge 18 maggio 1936-XIV, n. 867, e 1 giugno 1936-XIV, n. 1019, convertito nella legge 11 gennaio 1937-XV, n. 285; Sentito il Nostro Commissarario presso la Consulta Araldica; Sentito il Consiglio dei Ministri; Sulla proposta del DUCE del Fascismo, Capo di Governo e Ministro Segretario di Stato per lAfrica Italiana e del Guardasigilli, Ministro Segretario di Stato per la grazia e giustizia; Abbiamo decretato e decretiamo: 1. - Lo Stemma Imperiale dellAfrica Orientale Italiana formato da uno scudo sannitico inquartato: Nel primo (Eritrea): troncato: al 1 dargento alla leonessa illeopardita di rosso, armata doro, caricata di una stella dargento sul cuore; al 2 ondato dazzurro e dargento di sei pezzi; Nel secondo (Amara): al 1 doro, al braccio steso vestito di manica di camicia nera impugnante con la mano destra di carnagione un gladio romano, il tutto posto in fascia; al 2 di rosso alla croce copta doro; Nel terzo (Somalia): troncato innestato dargento sulla partizione; al 1 dazzurro al leopardo doro, chiazzato di nero, sormentato da una stella dargento nel punto del capo; al 2 di rosso a due stelle dargento di sei raggi poste in fascia; Nel quarto (Galla e Sidama): doro alla fascia ondata di azzurro, accompagnata in capo da un aratro al naturale; Controinnestato, in capo (Scioa): dazzurro al monte di cinque colli allitaliana dargento, movente dalla punta, sormontato dallemblema legionario romano doro; in punta (Harar): dargento al montante di verde. Sul tutto allo Scudo di Savoia: di rosso alla croce dargento. Lo scudo: accostato da due Fasci Littori, sostenuti da due leoni doro, linguati di rosso, controrampanti, con la testa in maest, pogginati su una lista dazzurro con la scritta: FERT - FERT - FERT ; accolato alla grande Collana dellOrdine Supremo della SS. Annunziata e alla decorazione dellOrdine coloniale della Stella dItalia; sormontato dalla Corona Imperiale che chiusa da otto vette doro (cinque visibili) moventi da aquile doro ad ali aperte, e da scudetti di Savoia sostenuti da Fasci Littori doro, alternati le une e gli altri con gruppi di tre perle disposte 1-2, riuniti con doppia curvatura sula sommit, fregiata allesterno da otto grosse perle decrescenti dal centro e sostenenti un globo doro cerchiato, cimato dalla Croce Mauriziana doro, trifogliata, sulla sommit del globo; il tutto con alla base un cerchio doro con i margine cordonati fregiato da otto grossi zaffiri e rubini, cinque visibili, divisi da otto nodi di Savoia, quattro visibili. 2. - La foggia del presente Stemma approvata come effigiata nella tavola unita al presente decreto, la quale sar firmata dal Nostro Commissario presso la Consulta Araldica, con il visto, dordine Nostro, del DUCE del Fascismo, Capo del Governo. Ordiniamo che il presente decreto, munito del sigillo dello Stato, sia inserto nella Raccolta ufficiale delle leggi e dei decreti del Regno dItalia, mandando a chiunque spetti di osservarlo e di farlo osservare. Dato di San Rossore, addi 31 agosto 1939-XVII VITTORIO EMANUELE MUSSOLINI - GRANDI VISTO, il Guardasigilli: GRANDI Registrato alla Corte dei conti, addi 31 ottobre 1939-XVIII Atto dei Governo, registro 414, foglio 143. - MANCINI That is to say: Arms: Quarterly: 1. Eritrea; 2. Amhara; 3. Somalia; 4. Galle and Sidamo; the chief ente en point of Shoa the base ente en point of Harrar. On an escutcheon Savoy. Crown: A crown of five hoops, on the diadem four groups of three pearls, two escutcheons of Savoy and

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one golden Roman eagle, being the Imperial Crown of Ethiopia. Orders: The collar and jewel of the Order of the Annunciation and the star and ribbon of the Ordine Coloniale della Stella dItalia. Supporters: Two lions guardant each supporting a fasces proper. Motto: FERT FERT FERT in golden lettering on a blue ribbon.

Amhara: Per fess, the first Or, an outstreched arm, vested in a black sleeve of a camicia nera, holding a Roman sword (gladius) per fess pointing to the dexter; the second Gules an Ethiopian cross Or. Eritrea: Per fess, the first Argent, a lion passant Gules, langued and unguled Or, his shoulder charged with a mullet Argent; the second barry wavy of six pieces Azure and Argent. Galle and Sidamo: Or, a fess wavy Azure in chief a plow proper. Harar: Argent a crescent Vert. Shoa: Azure, a five topped mountain Argent supporting a Roman standard Or. Somalia: Per fess a fess nebuly Argent, the first Azure a leopard passant proper, in chief a mullet Argent; the base Gules two six pointed stars Argent. [10] Viceroys

Pietro Badoglio Rodolfo Graziani Amedeo, Duca d'Aosta Pietro Gazzera Guglielmo Nasi

1936 1936-1937 1937-1941 23 may -6 july1941 6 july-27 nov.1941

The vice-regal flag shows the crowned coat of arms taken from the national- and navy flag of 1879 on a white field and within a blue border charged with italian fasces in the four corners, their axes pointing inwards.

After the collapse of A.O.I. and the return of Haile Selassie, the old symbols of state were restored

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Hubert deVries 2009-11-04

[1] ) The organigram of the Mameluk state in: Riley-Smith, Jonathan: The Atlas of the Crusades. London, 1991. [2] ) Richental Ulrich: Das Konzil zu Konstantz MCDXIV-MCDXVIII. Faksimile Ausgabe. Josef Keller Verlag. Hamburg, 1964. Fol. 130a. [3] ) Ortelius, Abraham: Presbiteri Iohannis sive Abessinorvm Imperii Descriptio, 1572. [4] ) Telles, Balthasar: Historia geral de Ethiopia a Alta ou Abassia do Preste Ioam, e do que nella obraram os Padres da Companhia de Iesus: composta na mesma Ethiopia pelo Padre Manoel d'Almeyda, natural de Visev, Provincial e Visitador, que foy na ndia. Abreviada com nova releyam, e methodo. Coimbra, Officina de Manoel Dias Impressor de Universidade, 1660.

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[5] ) See: Royal Ark: Shoa4. [6] ) Zervos, Adrien: Les emblmes et insignes nationaux de l'Ethiopie. In: L'Empire d'Ethiopie, le miroir de l'Ethiopie moderne. 1936, pp. 29-31, ill.. [7] ) The oldest representations available on stamps issued 1911. [8] ) Ebulo, Petrus de: Liber ad Honorem Augusti sive de rebus Siculis. Codex 120 II der Burgerbibliothek Bern, fol. 147. [9] ) Gabriel in Danil 8 : 16 and Lucas 1 : 19 and Michael in Danil 10 : 13 and Revelation 12 : 7. [10] ) Der Herold, 1941, pp. A2 & A3, A22; Gallo, G.: Vexilla Italica (s.d.); Bascap, 1983.

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