King Téwodros (Theodore) II of Abyssinia(circa 1818-1868), King of Abyssinia (Ethiopia)
Sitter in 1 portrait
Tewodros II (or 'Theodore') was a Coptic Christian ruler of Abyssinia from 1855. Like many rulers, he won power through defeating his rivals through war, but he continued to face internal revolt and external threats throughout his reign. In 1962, threatened by repeated encroachment from the Red Sea by Muslim Turks and Egyptians he wrote letters to powerful world leaders, including Queen Victoria, asking for military assistance and appealing for 'Christian solidarity' in the face of 'Islamic expansion'. The letter was ignored because the British Empire had no desire to carry out a crusade, infact their interest was to cooperate with the Ottoman Empire for commercial and political advantage. Enraged by the lack of response, he imprisoned several British missionaries and government officials including the British Consul, Captain Charles Cameron. The King's dealings with his own people and the treatment of the missionaries exposed his increasing erratic behaviour. After a series of failed negotiations to release the hostages Queen Victoria announced on 21 August 1867 the decision for military intervention to rescue the hostages and punish the King. The British expedition in 1868 to Abyssinia was one of the British Army's most ambitious and logistically challenging campaigns. The Anglo-Indian army was commanded by Lieutenant-General Sir Robert Napier. As the army descended on the King's capital and defeated the King's ill-equipped army, the King committed suicide with a pistol said to have been gifted to him from Queen Victoria.