King Dawit II
13 May 1508
|Mother||Woizero Atitegeb Wondbewossen|
Although she was well into her seventies, the Empress Mother Eleni stepped in to act as her step-great-grandson’s regent until 1516, when he came of age. During this time, she was aware that the neighboring Muslim states were benefitting from the assistance of other, larger Muslim countries like the Ottoman Empire. Eleni sought to neutralize this advantage by dispatching the Armenian Mateus to Portugal to ask for assistance. However, the Portuguese response did not arrive in Ethiopia until much later, when an embassy led by Dom Rodrigo de Lima arrived at Massawa on April 9, 1520. Transversing the Ethiopian highlands, they did not reach Dawit’s camp until October 19 of that year. Francisco Álvares provides us a description of the Emperor:
His appearance: “In age, complexion, and stature, he is a young man, not very black. His complexion might be chestnut or bay, not very dark in colour; he is very much a man of breeding, of middling stature; they said that he was twenty-three years of age, and he looks like that, his face is round, the eyes large, the nose high in the middle, and his beard is beginning to grow. In presence and state he fully looks like the great lord that he is.”
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