Q2. Did the failure of the Coptic Church to support Haile Selassie during WW-II helped Italians in their aggression against Ethiopia?


To begin with, is the information you get correct? Can you bring a concrete evidence? What is your source? At first this fact has to be established. Let us assume the information is correct, but why didn't the church support Haile Selassie? Admittedly, my knowledge on the background of the Italo-Ethiopian war of 1935 is limited. But judging from the historical process that preceded the war, it can be said that Haile Selassie's "progressive" policy had affected not only the church but the whole class of the Masafint, Makwanent and Balabat. If you compare the battle of Adwa (1896) and the Italo-Ethiopian War (1935), Menelik had the whole ruling class united behind him. For your information, the Emperor and the Emperess (Tayitu) had kindly requested some of the governors to remain behind because the army was so large that the battle place could not be enough to accommodate all and feared that they could kill each other than fighting against Italy. Seven years later in commemorating the 7th anniversary of the battle of Adwa, Menelik held military parade in which 390 000 armed troops participated. Of these, the Emperor's central army numbered 90 000. (see, Gabre Selassie 1959 E.C. Dagmawi Menelik, pp. 306-312).

When Haile Selassie marched to Mai Chew in March 1936 he had a force of 31000 consisting the Imperial guard (ca. 11 000) and the survivor troops of Ras Kassa and Ras Seyum. Why such a visible decrease in the numerical strength of the imperial army. We need a fresh study on the impact of Haile Selassie "progressive" policy on the military organization of the state. I raised this point to indicate that the defeat of Haile Selaasie could be related to other factors (consequence of his policy, for one) not only lack of support from the church (again if we have evidence). One result of his "progressive" policy which could be applied to the church was the land and taxation policy of Haile Sellasie. (You find the documents in Maheteme Selassie, Zekre Nager, chapter six and passim). This policy had eroded the privileges of the Masafint, Makuanent and Balabat, and during the war they said "Bechawun Yebela Bechawen Yemotal", and hesitated to support him. (See Tsehai Brehane Selassie, 1980. The Political and Military Tradition of the Ethiopian Peasantry 1800- 1941. Ph.D. Thesis, University of Oxford, Faculty of Anthropology and Geography). I did not study how the "progressive" policy of Haile Selassie affected the economic position and ideology of the church. I am sure that varied and complex internal and external factors had contributed to his defeat.