Taitu Betul was Empress of Ethiopia from 1889 to 1913. The third of four children in an aristocratic Ethiopian family that descended from the Solomonid dynasty, Taitu was born in 1851. She is known to have wielded considerable political power as the wife of Menelik, both before and after they were crowned Emperor and Empress in 1889.
Deeply suspicious of European intentions towards Ethiopia, she was a key player in the dispute over the Treaty of Wuchale with Italy in which the Italian version made Ethiopia an Italian protectorate. The Empress held a hard line against the Italians and when talks eventually broke down resulting in an invasion, Taitu marched north with the Emperor and the Imperial Army at the historic Battle of Adwa which resulted in the humiliating defeat of Italy in March 1894.
Not only was she the first lady of Ethiopia behind the mighty Emperor as a proud African history was made at Adwa , she was also alongside the Ethiopian army at the frontier of the battlefield serving her country. In 1889, she collaborated with Emperor Minilik to establish Addis Ababa as the nation’s capital. And it was Taitu who gave Addis Ababa its name.
When Menelik’s health began to decline around 1906, Taitu started making decisions on his behalf. Minilik died in 1913 and was succeeded by Lij Iyasu. Taitu lived the rest of her life at Entoto Maryam BeteKerstian near Addis Ababa where she died on 11 February 1918.