The Motif of the Apocalyptic Abyssinian III: The “Thin-Legged Ethopian” in Muslim Sources

This is the third of five blog-posts going back to a paper at the International Congress at Leeds in 2017: I. Giving the Horn of Africa an eschatological meaning in mappae mundi after the fall of Acre 1291 II. The north-east edge of the world on medieval mapsIII. The “thin-legged Ethopian” in muslim sources IV. The interplay of Muslim and Christian traditions V. Conclusions

There was however an additional reason to believe in the Abessinian ability to fight Muslims. There is a Hadith from an early Islamic tradition in which the apocalyptic Abessinian – Dhu’l  suwaqatayin  al Habaschi (the thin- legged Abessinian) takes part. The hadith states that an Abessinian will destroy the Ka’aba at the End of the Days after Jesus kills Gog and Magog. In all probability, this tradition reflects a traumatic memory from the year 570, in which an Abessinian invasion to Mecca using elephants failed. Continue reading The Motif of the Apocalyptic Abyssinian III: The “Thin-Legged Ethopian” in Muslim Sources

Historical and Legendary Sources at the Origins of the Ethiopian Prester John

Locating Prester John and his kingdom was once a major challenge for Europeans between the Late Middle Ages and the early modern era. Starting with the first appearance of this enigmatic ruler in the mid-twelfth century, his figure triggered enthusiastic expectations as a possible and decisive ally in the crusaders’ efforts to liberate the Holy Land: not only was he a mighty ruler, superior to every monarch on earth, as he claimed in the Letter that he allegedly sent to the Byzantine emperor Manuel, but he was also a Christian and shared the same “crusading” intention of many Latin fighters who had crossed the Mediterranean. Continue reading Historical and Legendary Sources at the Origins of the Ethiopian Prester John

The Structure of Argumentation in Pseudo-Axumite Hagiography IV: Conclusion

This is the fourth of four blog-posts going back to a paper at the International Congress at Leeds in 2017: I. Introduction II. Aregawi as Pachomios‘ son III. The saints’ interaction with the Aksumite kings IV. Conclusion

In conclusion, Stephen Kaplan wrote, though not specifically of the 9 saints, that “Ethiopian hagiographic literature, despite its saintly subject matter, did not partake of the exalted status of canonical literature. The monk writing a gadl felt free to shape and supplement his material to his purposes because he knew that no one was compelled to accept the truth of his narrative.” Continue reading The Structure of Argumentation in Pseudo-Axumite Hagiography IV: Conclusion

Representations of the Portuguese in the Royal Chronicle of King Gälawdewos (1540–1559): A Historical Commentary II: Representations of Portuguese in the chronicle and a commentary

This is the second of three blog-posts going back to a paper at the International Congress at Leeds in 2017: I. Introduction & Background to the Portuguese expedition – II. Representations of the Portuguese in the chronicle and a commentary – III. Conclusion & Bibliography

King Gälawdewos was considered as the restorer of the Christian kingdom from the decisive military defeat of the Muslim state of Adal, Aḥmad b. Ibrāhīm al-Ġāzī traditionally called Ahmad ‘Grañ. He was the second son of King Lǝbnä Dǝngǝl whom he succeeded in 1540. He fought Ahmad and defeated him with considerable support of the Portuguese. Then he maintained relative peace and security of the Christian kingdom for short time. Continue reading Representations of the Portuguese in the Royal Chronicle of King Gälawdewos (1540–1559): A Historical Commentary II: Representations of Portuguese in the chronicle and a commentary

The Structure of Argumentation in Pseudo-Axumite Hagiography III: The saints’ interaction with the Aksumite kings

This is the third of four blog-posts going back to a paper at the International Congress at Leeds in 2017: I. Introduction II. Aregawi as Pachomios‘ son III. The saints’ interaction with the Aksumite kings IV. Conclusion

Finally, I will discuss is the saints’ interaction with the Aksumite kings, which would have been chronologically impossible had they trained with Pachomios. The authors of the chosen gadlat wrote their holy men into established late antique narrative traditions surrounding Kaleb and by doing so not only negotiated their role in this ostensibly revived Solomonid kingdom but simultaneously used these traditions to present their own ideas of what the role of a secular king ought to be. Continue reading The Structure of Argumentation in Pseudo-Axumite Hagiography III: The saints’ interaction with the Aksumite kings

Representations of the Portuguese in the Royal Chronicle of King Gälawdewos (1540–1559): A Historical Commentary

This is the first of three blog-posts going back to a paper at the International Congress at Leeds in 2017: I. Introduction & Background to the Portuguese expedition – II. Representations of the Portuguese in the chronicle and a commentary – III. Conclusion & Bibliography

It is well known that the Portuguese played a significant role in saving the sixteenth-century Ethiopian King Gälawdewos from decisive defeat during the military confrontation with the Muslim conquest led by Aḥmad b. Ibrāhīm al-Ġāzī in 1543. The Portuguese sent 400 soldiers to assist the king – after the repeated request of King Gälawdewos and his father King Lǝbnä Dǝngǝl (1508–1540) before him, as is evident from their diplomatic correspondence with Portuguese kings. Continue reading Representations of the Portuguese in the Royal Chronicle of King Gälawdewos (1540–1559): A Historical Commentary

The Motif of the Apocalyptic Abyssinian II: The Northeast Edge of the World

This is the second of five blog-posts going back to a paper at the International Congress at Leeds in 2017: I. Giving the Horn of Africa an eschatological meaning in mappae mundi after the fall of Acre 1291 II. The north-east edge of the world on medieval mapsIII. The “thin-legged Ethopian” in muslim sources IV. The interplay of Muslim and Christian traditionsV. Conclusions
SLIDE4 Psalter world map in London, British Library Ms. Add. 28681. fol. 9r (detail). Public Domain.

The prototype of an apocalyptical area, which can be traced in 15 out of 37 medieval encyclopaedic world maps, is the Northeast edge of the world. The other 22 world maps belong mostly to the type of the Beatus Liebana maps which do not specify a certain direction where from Gog and Magog will invade the world. Those maps are following the text of Revelation 20:8, in which Satan will deceive the nations of Gog and Magog from the four quarters of the earth. Continue reading The Motif of the Apocalyptic Abyssinian II: The Northeast Edge of the World

The Structure of Argumentation in Pseudo-Axumite Hagiography II: Aregawi as Pachomios‘ son

This is the second of four blog-posts going back to a paper at the International Congress at Leeds in 2017: I. Introduction II. Aregawi as Pachomios‘ son III. The saints’ interaction with the Aksumite kings IV. Conclusion

The first narrative oddity is the most conspicuous: The saints’ time in training with the famous 4th-century Egyptian monk, Pachomios, which is not chronologically feasible, given the fact that they later meet 6th century Aksumite kings. When Abba Aregawi found Pachomios in the Thebaid of “the Greek country,” Pachomios was immediately taken by his piety and accepted him as a student. After a lengthy period of training, and having passed all the necessary tests of his character, Aregawi, now 40 according to the text, stood before Pachomios. Pachomios then dressed him in his new uniform, the eskema and said “May god bless your eskema, as he gave his blessing to my fathers, Abba Antonyos and Abba Maqaris (Makarios).” Continue reading The Structure of Argumentation in Pseudo-Axumite Hagiography II: Aregawi as Pachomios‘ son