Ethiopian Empire

Around 1270 AD, a new dynasty was established in the Abyssinian highlands under Yekuno Amlak who deposed the last of the Zagwe kings and married one of their daughters. According to legends, the new dynasty was male-line descendants of Axumite monarchs, now recognized as the continuing Solomonic dynasty (the kingdom being thus restored to the biblical royal house). Under the Solomonic dynasty, the chief provinces became Tigray (northern), Amhara (central) and Shewa (southern). The seat of government, or rather of over lordship, had usually been in Amhara or Shewa, the ruler of which, calling himself Niguse Negest (king of kings, or Emperor of Ethiopia), exacted tribute, when he could, from the other provinces. The title of Niguse Negest was to a considerable extent based on their direct descent from Solomon and the queen of Sheba; but it is needless to say that in many, if not in most, cases their success was due more to the force of their arms than to the purity of their lineage.

Ethiopia’s human occupation began early, as evidenced by the findings. It is believed that the ancient Egyptians claimed that Punt, known as gold country, was in Ethiopia in 980 BC, according to the report of the Kebra Nagast Menelik I founded the Ethiopian empire. In the 1st century BC. settled the Axumite empire that existed from the 7th century. This kingdom was founded in the 4th century with the Ethiopian Orthodox Church as the state religion and was thus one of the first Christian states.

In 1270 the Zagwe dynasty was overthrown by a king claiming lineage from the Aksumite kings and, hence, Solomon. The thus-named Solomonic dynasty was founded and ruled by the Habesha, from whom Abyssinia gets its name. The Habesha reigned with only a few interruptions from 1270 until the late 20th century. It was under this dynasty that most of Ethiopia’s modern history occurred. During this time, the empire conquered and incorporated virtually all the peoples within modern Ethiopia. They successfully fought off Italian, Arab and Turkish armies and made fruitful contacts with some European powers.

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