The sectarian appeal, at the council of Amba (Cara, to the authority of their Ethiopian forefathers, rather than to that of Alexandria, echoed fifteenth-century calls for an independent Ethiopian Church. With sectarian dissidence sidelined, Ethiopian religious nationalism would come in the twentieth century to focus on the new-found authority of the bishops and find expression in calls for the indigenisation of the episcopacy
The template was followed by all of Tewodros's successors: the ephemeral Takla Giyorgis II; Yohannes IV; Menilek II; and Haile Sellassie I. The reign of Yohannes was most important in reinforcing the precedents established by Tewodros and in returning to the church endowment practices of earlier Solomonics. His wife had died sometime in the late 1860s and he appears, thereafter, to have been celibate, following practice normative for the clergy. He suppressed the Qebat faith, adhered to by some of the monasteries in his domain.70
He put his lasting stamp on the church between 1878 and 1881. Political power in nineteenth-century Ethiopia expressed itself on the battlefield and Yohannes, like Tewodros, had fought his way to power. In the years following his coronation he pursued the subjugation of the historic territories, which he viewed as the patrimony of his royal predecessors. In the course of 1873-74 he secured the submission of Gojjam province, heartland of Qebat teaching. While he acted to suppress Qebat in Gojjam, he seems to have allowed its ruler, now a leading vassal, Ras Adal, some space for doctrinal toleration. Such was not the case with the province of Shawa and its YaSaga Lej adherents. In 1878 he forced the submission of his last outstanding rival, Menilek, ruler of Shawa, and, following Menilek's submission, he called a church council at Boru Meda in Wallo province, close to the ancient monastery of St Stephen of Hayq. At Boru Meda he established the precedence of Alexandria in questions of Christology and then produced a letter from the Coptic patriarch, which condemned sectarianism in general and the 'Son of Grace' teaching in particular.71 It established, as had Amba ((ara, the Karra doctrine of Abuna Salama and his predecessors. The council was followed by an active suppression of the
70 Crummey, 'Orthodoxy and imperial reconstruction', 438-9.
71 Cf.ibid. Two chronicle sources are particularly useful: Alaqa Lamlam's Amharic history of As'e Takla Giyorgis and As'é Yohannes, Bibliothèque Nationale (Paris), Manuscrits éthiopiens, 259, f. 24; and Gabra Sellasé, Tarika Zaman ZaDagmawi Menilek (Addis Ababa, 1959 Eth. Cal.), ch. 27; also translated and annotated as M. de Coppet, Chronique du règne deMenelik II: Maisonneuve frères (Paris, 1930), 2 vols. For accounts of the council from both 'Son of Grace' and Karra standpoints, together with a statement of'Son of Grace' doctrine, see Yaqob Beyene (ed. and trans.), Controversie Cristologiche in Etiopia: contributo alla storia delle correnti e della terminología nel secolo XIX [Supplemento n. 11 agli Annali 37 (1977), fasc. 2] (Naples: Istituto orientale di Napoli, 1977).
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