Ethiopian Emperor Commits Suicide

British soldiers discover the body of Emperor Tewodros II after he committed suicide following the Battle of Magdala
British soldiers discover the body of Emperor Tewodros II after he committed suicide following the Battle of Magdala

Historical Context

In 1862 the Ethiopian Emperor, Tewodros II, was in a precarious position as ruler. Much of his country was in revolt against him, and he controlled a small strip of territory that included a fort at the city of Magdala.

In an attempt to solve these problems and retain power he wrote a letter to several European powers, asking for assistance. He sent a letter to Queen Victoria asking for solidarity with his Christian kingdom, but he did not receive a response.

In order to get the attention of the British government he imprisoned several important British representatives. This caused the government in London to order an expedition to punish the emperor, transporting a large force hundreds of miles over mountainous terrain with no infrastructure.

As the British laid siege to his fortress at Magdala, Tewodros committed suicide with a pistol given to him as a gift by Queen Victoria, rather than face imprisonment. The British had won a resounding victory but the conflict was later described as one of the most 'expensive affairs of honour in history.'

Drawing Info


Location drawn: Magdala, Abyssinia (Ethiopia)

Source: Military-History.org

Related Events

  • 1868-04-13 Abyssinian War ends as British and Indian troops capture Magdala and Ethiopian Emperor Tewodros II commits suicide

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