The royal church was a cornerstone of the Gondar kingdom, founded in the 1630s in reaction to Ethiopia's brief engagement with Roman Catholicism. A major act in Fasiladas's founding of Gondar was the establishment and endowment ofthe church of Madhane Alam (Saviour of the World). In founding a new capital, he did not ignore an earlier capital and its major church. In Aksum he had the church of St Mary of Zion rebuilt and freshly endowed with land.43 All of Fasiladas's successors, for 150 years, without exception founded churches, in which many of them were buried. His grandson Iyasu was equally generous to Aksum.44 His son and successor, Yohannes I, founded the church of Egziabher Ab (God the Father), in which he was initially buried.45 He refounded a church dedicated to St Mary at Azazo, just outside the town. Azazo Maryam was originally a Jesuit establishment, but Yohannes refounded it as the motherhouse of the monastic order of Takla Haymanot, whose original motherhouse, Dabra Libanos of Shawa, had not survived the jihad and Oromo migrations.
Most notable among the Gondar establishments were Dabra Berhan Sellase and Dabra Sahay Qwesqwam.46 All these churches were richly endowed with agricultural lands dedicated, as we have seen, to the support ofthe Mass as well as to maintenance ofthe fabric ofthe church, and for 'embers'. Rulers also gave lands for commemoration services and for direct support ofthe clergy. Clergy held their lands on an individual basis in return for service, and passed these lands to their descendants, always on condition that service was paid. These were sizeable establishments, Dabra Berhan Sellase being officially founded with 160 dabtara, while Dabra Sahay Qwesqwam was endowed with 260 dabtara. Dabra Berhan Sellase and Dabra Sahay Qwesqwam became models ofthe royal church, their precedent evoked by later foundations in Tegre, to the north, and in Gojjam, to the south. Although the Gondar kingdom collapsed in the
43 For the foundation document of Madhane Alam, see the manuscript of the GabraHema-mat still held at the church, also available on microfilm at the Center for African Studies, University of Illinois, and the Institute of Ethiopian Studies, Addis Ababa University, reference number Illinois/IES, 84.1.7-8. For the Aksum church, see Stuart Munro-Hay, Aksum S'syon', in EncyclopediaMthiopica, 1,183-5; C. Conti Rossini, Documenta ad Illus-trandam Historiam, 1, Liber Axumae [CSCO 27] (Paris: E typographeo reipublicae, 1909), 76-7 (text); 92-9 (trans.).
44 Huntingford, Land charters, 61-2 (doc. 63). See also ibid. (doc. 64). This is primarily a collection of documents translated from Conti Rossini's Liber Axumae. The document numbers are the same in both works.
45 See Crummey, Land and society, 82-3.
46 SeeI. Guidi, AnnalesIohannisI,IyyasuI, etBakafa[CSCO, Scriptores^thiopiciser. altera] (Paris: E typographeo reipublicae, 1903), v, 176-7; vi, 88-105/95-114. Cf. Crummey, Land and society, 88-9,107-8. Mentewwab also munificently founded Narga Sellase on one of the islands in Lake T. ana: M. Di Salvo, S. Chojnacki and O. Raineri, Churches ofEthiopia: the monastery of Narga Sellase (Milan and New York: Skira and Abbeville Pub. Group, 1999).
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