A Walk To Memory Lane: The Victory of the Ethiopians Over the Italian Forces (The Battle of Adwa)

After the death of Emperor Yohannes IV in 1889, there was a great disorder in the kingdom; the aspirants fought amongst themselves to be the successor. It was said that the Italians had given Sahle Miriam of Shewa, who was later called Menelik II, their full support. They funded Menelik II with funds, and modern weapons which he garnered strength and controlled the smaller Ethiopian kingdom as well as resuming rule as the emperor after Yohannes IV.

A Treaty of Wuchale, was signed on 2nd of May 1889 which saw the handover of provinces; Akele Guzai, Hamasien, part of Tigray, and Bogos to the Italians while they get financial backup and military support from the Italians. Part of the treaty states the recognition of the Italian’s claim of the colony on Eritrea.

According to Article 17 of the treaty, in the Italian version of the treaty, the Italian Premier Francesco Crispi stated that all foreign affairs between the Ethiopian empire will go through the Italian government while Ethiopia becomes an Italian protectorate. In the translated version of the treaty in Amharic, Emperor Menelik II stated that the treaty would allow them to use the influence of the Italian government to carry out foreign affairs.

This didn’t balance well as conflict arose with the Italians using their military strength to accept the treaty which led to the first Italo-Ethiopian War. In December 1894, Eritrean leader, Bahta Hagos attacked the Italians in Akele Guzai with his troops while the unit General Oreste Baratieri led by Major Pietro Toselli defeated and killed Bahta.

The Italians took over Tigrayan’s capital Adwa and attacked Ras Mengesha Yohannes in January 1895, forcing them to retreat to the South.

Many provinces were conquered till the ending of the year, on 7th December when Menelik II general; Ras Mengesha and Ras Welle attacked the Italians during the Amba Alagi battle with larger troops and defeated them.

General Baratieri led 17900 Italian soldiers on an attack against Ethiopia. Unluckily, they were ambushed by 70000 Ethiopian soldiers led by Menelik II daughter; Taytu Betul, Ras Welle, and Ras Mengesha, on the Adwa Valley and attacked with crossfire.

The battle which started by 6:00 saw the death of about 7000 Italians soldiers while they lost 4000. Wounded soldiers of the Italians were 1500 and 3000 prisoners, they had 8000 of their men wounded.

After the October 1896 Treaty of Addis Ababa, peace took over again. The Italian protectorates were dissolved with their colony of Eritrea.

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