"Brilliant" — New York Review of Books
"[...] a remarkable and fascinating book that opens up entirely new vistas on the cultural and political history of the fifteenth-century Mediterranean." —Al-Masāq — Journal of the Medieval Mediterranean
Medieval Ethiopian Kingship explores why Ethiopian kings pursued long-distance diplomatic contacts with Latin Europe in the late Middle Ages. It traces the history of more than a dozen embassies dispatched to the Latin West by the kings of Solomonic Ethiopia, a powerful Christian kingdom in the medieval Horn of Africa. Drawing on sources from Europe, Ethiopia, and Egypt, it examines the Ethiopian kings’ motivations for sending out their missions in the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries – and argues that a desire to acquire religious treasures and foreign artisans drove this early intercontinental diplomacy. Moreover, the Ethiopian initiation of contacts with the distant Christian sphere of Latin Europe appears to have been intimately connected to a local political agenda of building monumental ecclesiastical architecture in the North-East African highlands, and asserted the Ethiopian rulers’ claim of universal kingship and rightful descent from the biblical king Solomon. Shedding new light on the self-identity of a late medieval African dynasty at the height of its power, this book challenges conventional narratives of African-European encounters on the eve of the so-called ‘Age of Exploration’.
One of the Best Medieval Books of the Year 2021 according to the Medieval Podcast & Medievalists.net.
Media coverage, interviews & reviews on the book include features in the Smithsonian Magazine, BBC History Podcast, the Medieval Podcast, Al Jazeera China, Spiegel Geschichte & New York Review of Books.
Scholarly reviews since its release in March 2021 include
- Peter Brown, New York Review of Books, October 2021 Issue
- Dag Herbjørnsrud, Ny Tid, Winter 2021/22 Issue
- Sam Kennerley, Journal of Early Modern History 25.6 (2021): 573–576
- Samuel Rubenson, res. Review of Ecumenical Studies 13.3 (2021): 544–546
- Matteo Salvadore, Orientalistische Literaturzeitung 116.4–5 (2022): 418–421
- Anaïs Wion, African Studies Review 65.1 (2022): 1-4
- David Abulafia, Al-Masāq — Journal of the Medieval Mediterranean 34.1 (2022): 1–3
The book is currently being translated into Amharic and Tigrinya.
Freely available PDF sections of the book
- Front Matter (including Maps, Acknowledgements, Note to Reader, and Table of Contents) is available through SpringerLink here.
- Back Matter (including A Brief Glossary of Terms Relating to Ethiopian History, Bibliography and Index) is available through SpringerLink here.