forwarded. Sectarianism did not dampen other expressions of Orthodox religion. The great church foundations of Gondar, notably the churches of Dabra Berhan Sellase by Iyasu I in 1694 and of Dabra Sahay Qwesqwam by Empress Mentewwab in the 1740s, set a standard, which was emulated throughout the country for almost 150 years.14 Major churches continued to be founded in the town itself into the 1780s. Moreover, the Gondar period saw a recovery of the legacy so badly battered by the storms of the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. Manuscripts were copied. New manuscripts were written. And painting thrived, adorning manuscripts and church buildings alike.15 The great foundations each supported several hundred clergy, who, in turn, made Gondar a centre of church education, a role it has played down to the present.
The Ethiopian state and church entered the nineteenth century in a state of disarray. At the end of the 1760s powerful regionally based nobles succeeded in toppling the throne and instituting a succession of puppet rulers, gaining effective power for themselves and their lineages. Ethiopia's clerical chroniclers likened the period to the biblical period preceding the foundation of the Jewish kingdom and dubbed it the Zamana Masafent, 'Era of the Judges'. The fate of the church was most poignantly seen in the careers of the bishops, who attempted to lead the church, during the first half of the nineteenth century. They were abused, chased from Gondar and forced into internal exile, their doctrinal authority rejected. At this stage their particular enemies were the monks of Dabra Libanos and the Saga doctrine, which they professed. Ethiopia had experienced previous periods of weak central institutions, but by the 1830s there were clear signs that the outside world was unlikely to leave the country alone. Egypt was reviving and expanding, and in the 1830s its armies reached the borderlands which separated Ethiopian authority from the authority of states based in the upper Nile Valley. At the same time Europeans - missionaries, both Protestant and Catholic, and lay travellers - became a constant presence in the highlands, reviving memories both of the Jesuit conflicts and of the potential that Europe offered for military support.16 Revival of the Ethiopian
14 For an account of the founding of Ethiopian churches in general and of Dabra Berhan Sellase and Dabra Sahay Qwesqwam, in particular, see D. Crummey Land and society in the Christian Kingdom of Ethiopia: from the thirteenth to the twentieth century (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2000). For an excellent account of a seventeenth-century foundation, see Anaïs Wion, '"Aux confins le feu, au centre le paradis": Qoma Fasiladas, un monastère royal dans l'Ethiopie du I7ème siècle', unpublished PhD dissertation, 2 vols., Université de Paris - Panthéon Sorbonne, 2003.
15 Gondarine art is richly represented in Heldman, African Zion.
16 In general see, Mordechai Abir, Ethiopia: the era of the princes. The challenge of Islam and the unification of the Christian Kingdom 1769-1855 (London: Longmans Green, 1968); D. Crummey, Priests and politicians: Protestant and Catholic missionaries in Orthodox Ethiopia,
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