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
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
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
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
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 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 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
Conference Paper Summary
Jesuit art was born of the visual milieu of the Counter-Reformation, during which the Council of Trent encouraged the use of art as a teaching tool. In the Jesuit Ethiopian Mission (1557-1632), where the targets of conversion had been Orthodox Christians since the fourth century, art guided instruction and served as a visual common ground in an otherwise bitter religious dispute. This paper considers the relationship between Ethiopian Orthodox and Roman Catholic art during this mission, using case studies of imported Marian and Christological imagery to demonstrate the era’s two-way cultural exchange. Continue reading Seeing Faith: Ethiopian Orthodox and Roman Catholic Art during the Jesuit Interlude (1557-1632)
I introduced eight years of research in central Shoa in a twenty minutes lecture (Comparing Fra Mauro’s Depiction of Medieval Ethiopia to Sites Discovered via Satellite Archaeology in Modern Shoa, Ethiopia – see here for the programme: https://africana.hypotheses.org/27).
Over forty sites found via satellite views and visits have been named and put in context thanks mostly to a Venetian map designed for the zone we study, as well as for vast parts of Africa, by visiting Ethiopian monks from the Zuqwala and Barara areas, in 1439. Continue reading Lecture Summary, Leeds IMC, 2017
Ethiopian Christians have long venerated a group of monks from various cities in the Roman empire who allegedly arrived in Aksum in northeastern Ethiopia during the early- to mid-6th century CE. They are credited with establishing the first monasteries in Ethiopia and converting much of the country to Christianity. While the stories of individual saints might vary in some details, on the whole they tend to follow a predictable narrative structure, based closely on a highly popular Arabic translation of the 5th century Syriac hagiography of Saint Alexius of Rome, and other late antique texts translated from Greek and Coptic into Arabic, and then again into Ge’ez, or Classical Ethiopic. Continue reading The Structure of Argumentation in Pseudo-Axumite Hagiography I: Introduction
Contacts and comparisons: Idiosyncrasies in the illuminated tetraevangelium of Märtula Maryam.*
The apocalyptic Abessinian: The Transfer of an early Islamic motif to Europe
My presentation deals mainly with the following questions:
How was the Christian eschatological anticipation of the End of the World expressed in medieval world maps?
- How could the Horn of Africa in medieval world maps became an eschatological area directed against Islam?
- How could an early Islamic apocalyptic motif find its way to anti-Islamic crusader prophecies?
The goal of my dissertation is to detect cartographic evidence in order to substantiate the notion of an apocalyptic area prevailing in the Horn of Africa. At the same time a critical examination of textual sources is undertaken in order to reconstruct the transfer of an apocalyptic early Islamic motif until its incorporation in Latin prophecies of the 5th crusade and its further embedding in the recuperatio literature after the loss of Acre. Continue reading The Motif of the Apocalyptic Abyssinian I: Giving the Horn of Africa an eschatological meaning in mappae mundi after the fall of Acre 1291
The following tutorial is meant for those who have no experience with blogging and will tell you how to write an article/blogpost complete with hyperlinks and pictures here africana.hypotheses.org. It is adopted from a tutorial I originally wrote for a different scholarly blog (intersex.hypotheses.org/3307) and should work for any of the many, many scholarly blogs kindly hosted by https://hypotheses.org/. Continue reading Blogging with hypotheses.org – a short intro