Academic Writing

— Monographs, Books & Articles —
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Cover of Medieval Ethiopian Kingship, Craft, and Diplomacy by Verena Krebs (Palgrave, 2021)

Medieval Ethiopian Kingship, Craft, and Diplomacy with Latin Europe
Palgrave Macmillan 2021, 319 pages, ISBN: 978-3-030-64933-3, DOI 10.1007/978-3-030-64934-0. Visit publisher's website here.

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 &! Recent media coverage, interviews & reviews can be found in the Smithsonian Magazine, BBC History Podcast, the Medieval Podcast, Al Jazeera China, Spiegel Geschichte & the New York Review of Books

Read more on this project —including the Introduction of the book— here

"Ethiopia" and the World, 330-1500 CE
co-authored with  Dr Yonatan Binyam (IAS Princeton / UC Berkeley)

Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2024. 

This book, published in May 2024 as part of the Cambridge University Press Elements in the Global Middle Ages Series edited by Geraldine Heng and Susan J Noakes, is an accessible and interdisciplinary introduction to the histories of the Ethiopian and Eritrean highlands from late antiquity to the late medieval period. 

Early Western scholarship, often by philologists and religious scholars, upheld 'Ethiopia' as an isolated repository of ancient Jewish and Christian texts. In line with the series' objectives of providing concise studies that 'introduce  researchers and instructors to an interconnected "medieval" world', "Ethiopia" and the World, 330-1500 CE  reframes the region's history, highlighting the political, economic, and cultural interconnections of different kingdoms, polities, and peoples. Utilizing recent advancements in Ethiopian and Eritrean Studies as well as Medieval Studies, it reevaluates key instances of contact between 'Ethiopia' and the world of Afro-Eurasia, situating the histories of the Christian, Muslim, and local-religious or 'pagan' groups living in the Red Sea littoral and the Eritrean-Ethiopian highlands in the context of the Global Middle Ages.

A PDF of the full book is available for download free of charge until the end of May 2024. 

A collage of icons and objects from late medieval Ethiopia

Africa Collecting Europe: Patronage and Power in Ethiopia, 1470–1530 
ca. 320 pages, under contract with the University of Pennsylvania Press

This book project, Africa Collecting Europe, centres long-neglected material culture sources from Christian Ethiopia to tease out an untold story about the assertion of power in a pre-colonial African kingdom. Focussing on a period of alleged political decline (the years between 1470–1530 CE), it mines the object histories of dozens of religious works — ranging from locally painted blonde Madonnas and pseudo-Flemish crucifixion scenes to imported icons and enamels from Crete, Flanders, and France — for their contexts of production, acquisition, modification, and utilisation by the Ethiopian Christian nobility. Placing these objects in their historical context and studying the connection between courtly patronage practices and political actions at a moment of crucial change, Africa Collecting Europe traces a moment of cultural efflorescence. The book offers a radically new history of a powerful late medieval kingdom in the Horn of Africa — and demonstrates its carefully cultivated and long-lasting connections with other parts of the world.

Read more on this project here.


PhD Thesis (microfiche publication)
Krebs, Verena: Windows onto the World: Culture Contact and Western Christian art in Ethiopia, 1402-1543, [Dissertation]. Konstanz: University of Konstanz 2014. Published September 2018.
Access Data can be found here. 

Journal Articles
& Book Contributions

Screenshot of the article PDF

Betä Ǝsra’el (Ethiopian Jewish) Monastic Sites North of Lake Ṭana: Preliminary Results of an Exploratory Field Trip to Ethiopia in December 2015

Article (with Bar Kribus)
in Entangled Religions. Interdisciplinary Journal for the Study of Religious Contact and Transfer. Special issue “Historical Engagements and Interreligious Encounters — Jews and Christians in Premodern and Early Modern Asia and Africa”, 6 (2018), 309—344; DOI: 10.13154/er.v6.2018.309—344.

Read and download a PDF copy here

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Crusading threats? Ethiopian-Egyptian relations in the 1440s

in Crusading in Africa, ed. Benjamin Weber, Toulouse: Presses Univesitaires du Midi 2019, 245—274.

Read and download a PDF copy here. 

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Re-Examining Foresti's Supplementum Chronicarum and the ‘Ethiopian’ Embassy to Europe of 1306

in Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 82/3 (2019), 493–515. DOI: 10.1017/S0041977X19000697.

Read and download a PDF copy here.  

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Stanley: Coomassie and Magdala (1874), commented by Verena Krebs 

Source Commentary and Article

in Translocations. Anthologie: Eine Sammlung kommentierter Quellentexte zu Kulturgutverlagerungen seit der Antike, published online at

(German translation to be published in Beute. Eine Anthologie zu Kunstraub und Kulturerbe, eds. Bénédicte Savoy, Robert Skwirblies, Isabelle Dolezalek, Matthes & Seitz Berlin, 2021).

Read online here.

Die Plünderung von Mäqdäla (in German)

Quelle und Kommentar
in Beute. Eine Anthologie zu Kunstraub und Kulturerbe, hgg. von Isabelle Dolezalek, Bénédicte Savoy und Robert Skwirblies,  Matthes & Seitz, Berlin 2021, 206–214. 

Read and download a PDF copy here.

Screenshot of the article PDF

A catalogue of post-Byzantine Icons present in Solomonic Ethiopia prior to 1530

in Orbis Aethiopicus XVII (2020/21), ed. by Walter Raunig & Asfa-Wossen Asserate, H.J. Röll Verlag, 189–227.

Read and download a PDF copy here.

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Fancy Names and Fake News. Notes on the Conflation of Solomonic Ethiopian Rulership with the Myth of Prester John in the late Medieval Latin Christian diplomatic Correspondence

in Orbis Aethiopicus XVII (2020/21), ed. by Walter Raunig & Asfa-Wossen Asserate, H.J. Röll Verlag, 89–121.

Read and download a PDF copy here.

Christianity, Ethiopian, in: The Encyclopedia of Ancient History: Asia and Africa

Encyclopedia Article
2021, The Encyclopedia of Ancient History: Asia and Africa, Wiley. 

Read and download a PDF copy here.