Alazar Ya’aqob

Mark Evan Chimsky

Alazar Ya’aqob is an invented character, an Ambassador from the Ethiopian court of the boy emperor Malak Sagad II. Alazar Ya’aqob’s relative, a great uncle, served as an archer in the court of Emperor Charles V of the Habsburg empire.

A pious Christian, Alazar Ya’aqob rose to noble rank in Ethiopia, becoming a trusted advisor to the emperor and endeavoring to forge a trade alliance with Queen Elizabeth I. In 1600, he was one of the first Black nobles from another country to be granted an audience with the Queen.

The artist and subject of the accompanying painting are not known but there is speculation that it dates from the sixteenth century. The dignity of this Black noble was an inspiration to me as I created the character of Alazar Ya’aqob.