Zaga-Christ Prince d’Ethiopie
Illustration in Eugène Roger, La terre saincte (1646)
Like Aniaba, Zaga Christ (possible other names include Athanasius, Saga Krestos, Lesanna Krestos) was a visitor to Europe who claimed to be an African prince; and like Aniaba, there’s dispute over whether he actually was.
Zaga Christ claimed to be the son of Yaqob, the emperor of Ethiopia, and that he fled when Susenyos killed his father and became the new emperor. However, if the dates & ages he gave were accurate (he claimed to be only 16 in 1632), he would’ve been born some years after his supposed father’s death. Some sources claim Zaga Christ’s father was actually Arzo, Yaqob’s cousin, but from what I can tell, most historians seem to think he was just an impostor. Though his French Wikipedia page appears to make a case for his legitimacy (not reading French, nor having access to the sources it cites, nor being able to travel through time and check, I can’t speak to its reliability).
He lived for a short while in Turin with the Duke of Savoy. Supposedly he had his portrait painted there by Giovanna Garzoni, but I can’t find any images of it. He moved to Paris in 1635, living as a guest of Cardinal Richelieu.
He died in 1638, and estimates of his age at death seem to range from 22 to 38. His epitaph read “Here lies the King of Ethiopia / The original, or the copy.”
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