Queen Taytu Bitul Hayle Mariam (1851-1918)

 Summarized by Surafel K Gebreselassie

Queen Taytu

  • Princess Taytu was born at about 1851. Her father Prince Betul Hayle Maryam died in battle on June 29, 1853 when Taytu was only 3 years old.
  • Princess Taytu married Menelik II, King of the Ethiopian province of Shewa on Easter Sunday in 1883.
  • She often wore her head in cornrow braids which connected in ponytail at the back.
  • She was 1.6 meter tall and wore European size 39 shoes.
  • She is credited for choosing the site for Menelik II’s new capital, Addis Ababa
  • They were crowned as emperor and empress of Ethiopia in coronation ceremony of magnificent splendor with jewels and a golden crown for Taytu in 1889 following the death of Emperor Yohannes.
  • 1889 ( May 2nd) : Menelik signed the Treaty of Wuchale with Italy
  • Article 17 stated in Italian version that Italy would control Ethiopia’s external affairs; the Amharic version said that Menelik could choose whether or not to ask the Italians to act on his behalf, but was not required to do so.  Ethiopians said it was a trick; Italians blamed the Ethiopian translator Geraz. Yosef Neguse who knew French but not Italian.
  •  October 1889, Italy declared a protectorate over Ethiopia on the basis of article 17.
  • A great furor resulted at Menelik’s court; Empress Taytu came close to accusing her husband of treason.
  • Empress Taytu was feared; at court she anchored the anti-European faction.
  • 1893 ( Feb 27th) Menelik renounces Treaty of Wuchale
  • 1895 ( Sep 17th) Menelik calls for total mobilization of Ethiopian forces
  • Five hundred solders guarded the empress and her entourage of about one hundred women and took care of preparing the food for the soldiers
  • 1896 ( Feb 14): Menilek and Taytu arrive at Adwa
  • March 1st: Menelik and Taytu destroy Italian army at the battle of Adwa and achieved a stunning victory over the Italians.
  • Italy lost 70% of its forces; 3000-4000 taken prisoners.
  • Oct 26th : Treaty of Addis Ababa in recognition of Ethiopians independence
  • After the emperor’s health deteriorated in 1907, Empress Taytu was actually in charge of running the country
  • Menelik died in 1913; Taytu died five years later in 1918 at the age of 67.
  • The influential empress Taytu helped create the modern Ethiopian nation along with her husband, King Menelik II.


  • Jonas, R. (2011). The Battle of Adwa: African Victory In The Age of Empire,Cambridge:Harvard University Press
  • McLachlan, S. (2011). Armies of the Adwa Campaign 1896: The Italian Disaster in Ethiopia, Oxford: Osprey Pulishing Ltd.
  •  Prouty, C. (1986). Empress Taytu and Menilek II: Ethiopia 1883-1910, New Jersey:The Red Sea Press.
  •  Marcus, H.G. (2002). A History of Ethiopia: Los Angeles: University of California Press.
  •  Hansen, J.(2004).African Princess: The Amazing Lives of Africa’s Royal Women, NY: The Madison Press Ltd

About Tenayistilign

I am a physician trained at Jimma Institute of Health Sciences ( now Jimma University, in Jimma, Ethiopia) and Wayne State University ( Detroit, MI, USA). I teach and practice General Nephrology/Hypertension and Kidney Transplantation in the USA.
This entry was posted in History. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Queen Taytu Bitul Hayle Mariam (1851-1918)

  1. Kal says:

    Can there be more?

  2. HopE says:

    It is a nice summery..well done!

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