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An Incomplete Integration into the Orbis Christianus

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Relations and Misunderstandings between the Papacy and Ethiopia (1237–1456)

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Contacts between Ethiopia and the papacy may have developed since the twelfth century and are securely documented from the first half of the fourteenth century. Information and mutual knowledge, very vague at the beginning, slowly increased through merchants, missionaries, and official embassies; both sides learned from each other. But numerous misunderstandings remained and fabulous tales about Ethiopia were diffused in papal documents until the fifteenth century. This was caused, of course, by the difficulty of obtaining precise and genuine information about these remote lands but it was also the consequence of an intentional confusion and distortion of reality, fed by the papacy in order to highlight its universal power.

Affiliations: 1: Department of History, Université de Toulouse 2, Jean JaurJaurèss5 allées Antonio Machado, 31058 Toulouse, Cedex


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