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"Do Not Search for Another King, One Whom God Has Not Given You": Questions on the Elevation of Zär'ä Ya'eqob (1434-1468)

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image of Journal of Early Modern History

When Zär'ä Ya'eqob became king of Ethiopia in 1434, he was far from being the only candidate for the office. One of his homilies, The Epistle of Humanity, relates that he was opposed by a group led by Beht wäddäd and former Tegré Mäkwanenn Isayeyyas, and including many members of his own family. This episode is essential to an understanding of the policy of Zär'ä Ya'eqob in the first years of his reign, when he tried to establish his authority in Tigré and especially in Aksum by means of a consecration ceremony, the foundation of monasteries, and the nomination of a liqä Aksum. The first version of the chronicle of Zär'ä Ya'eqob, however, scarcely mentions this episode while the second version totally conceals it. The different ways the homily and the royal chronicle deal with the beginning of Zär'ä Ya'eqob's reign inform us about Ethiopian royal historiography.


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