unity prevailed in the church. In 1896, Menilek defeated an invading Italian army at the Battle of Adwa, firmly establishing his country's independence. In the decades preceding Adwa, Menilek's armies had carried the authority of the state far and wide, and with it the presence of the Orthodox Church. The century was to see momentous transformations. An episcopal hierarchy was established and then indigenised and expanded. Expansion was territorial as well as institutional, the church establishing a presence in far-flung corners of the new Ethiopian Empire and overseas in Jamaica and in North America. The church entered into regular conversations with other churches of the Alexandrian-Syrian connection and became a member of the World Council of Churches. But its central role in the construction of the modern Ethiopian state brought burdens and limitations, as well as privileges. Menilek's eventual successor, Haile Sellassie I (1930-74), retained the vision of church, state and nation which animated his predecessors, but the country over which he ruled was far more diverse than that vision allowed. Territorial expansion in the later nineteenth century had brought within the fold of the state large numbers of Muslims andpeoples adherent to neither Christianity nor Islam. Moreover, the modernisation espoused by Menilek and pursued by Haile Sellassie eventually overwhelmed the monarchy, and, with the deposition of Haile Sellassie in 1974, ushered in an era of revolution, disestablishment of the church and the creation of a secular state.18
Monks and monarchs: the Ethiopian nation
In many ways the definitive Ethiopian state and nation were formed in the two centuries following the establishment of the Solomonic dynasty in 1270. This process climaxed in the reign of Zar'a Ya'qob (1434-68), who reconciled local practice with Alexandrian authority. The dominant forces that we can most readily see at work were the monks and the royal court. Conflict marked their early relations.
18 The literature on the Ethiopian Revolution is voluminous. Two accounts of outstanding value are Andargachew Tiruneh, The Ethiopian revolution, 1974-19871a transformation from an aristocratic to a totalitarian autocracy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993); andC. Clapham, Transformation and continuity in revolutionary Ethiopia (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988). For the fate of the church, see Haile Mariam Larebo, 'The Ethiopian Church and politics in the twentieth century: part 2', Northeast African Studies 10 (1988), 1-23; Haile Mariam Larebo, 'The Orthodox Church and state in Ethiopian revolution', Religion in Communist Lands 14 (1986), 148-59; J. Persoon, 'Monks and cadres in the land of Prester John: an interdisciplinary study of modern Ethiopian monasticism and its encounter with communism', unpublished PhD dissertation, London University, 2003.
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