Degna Djan

Degna Djan
Negus of Axum
King of Aksum
SuccessorAnbasa Wedem
IssueAnbasa Wedem
Dil Na'od

Degna Djan was an Emperor of the Kingdom of Aksum (9th or 10th centuries). Paul B. Henze states that his throne name was "'Anbasa Wedem", which tradition states was his oldest son's name. His younger son was Dil Na'od.

E. A. Wallis Budge provides an account of the most familiar tradition about Degna Djan, that upon his deathbed he asked Abuna Peter to decide which of his two sons should succeed him. Abuna Peter selected Dil Na'od, but upset with the decision 'Abasa Wedem is said to have bribed an Egyptian monk Mennas to go to Alexandria and convince the Patriarch of Alexandria to remove Abuna Peter so 'Anbasa Wedem could claim the throne. Mennas returned with forged papers that made him Abuna, and he consecrated 'Anbasa Wedem as king. Dil Na'od's supporters thereupon collected troops and deposed 'Anasa Wedem; upon learning the truth, Patriarch Cosmas excommunicated Mennas—but Mennas had died by that time.

Taddesse Tamrat repeats traditions that Degna Djan both led military expeditions as far south as Ennarea, and commanded missionary activities in the highlands of Angot and the later province of Amhara. Because the Gadla of Tekle Haymanot states that Degna Djan lived 18 generations—or 400–600 years—before the saint (c. 1215), "this brings Digna-Jan to the first half of the ninth century."

Taddesse Tamrat also mentions a tradition that makes him, not his son Dil Na'od, the last king of Axum.


  1. ^ Paul B. Henze, Layers of Time (New York: Palgrave, 2000), p. 49.
  2. ^ E. A. Walis Budge, A History of Ethiopia: Nubia and Abyssinia, 1928 (Oosterhout, the Netherlands: Anthropological Publications, 1970), p. 276. Budge identifies the Patriarch as Cosmas II; however, Taddesse Tamrat (Church and State in Ethiopia , pp. 40f) identifies him with Cosmas III.
  3. ^ Taddesse Tamrat, Church and State, pp. 35f.
  4. ^ Taddesse Tamrat, Church and State, p. 36.
  5. ^ Taddesse Tamrat, Church and State, p. 66n
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