Very ancient territorial, human and cultural entity of the Horn of Africa, which has its continuity in the modern State of Ethiopia. The historical heart of Ethiopia they are the highlands of the Center-North, which during the 1st millennium BC saw the settlement of groups of Semitic language, of South Arabian origin, which merged with native Cushites giving rise to the people called habashat (➔ Abyssinia). Strong were among the centuries. 4th and 1st BC South Arabian and Hellenistic influences. Active center of trade – with its port of Adulis on the Red Sea – the region saw from the 1st-2nd century. BC the development of the kingdom of Aksum, in the current region of Tigray, which, having formed an empire, had control over the plateau and spread its own Semitic language, in particular under the negusa nagast (“king of kings”) Ezana (ca. 320-350), the which subjugated Meroe and the begia nomads and, according to tradition, officially adopted Christianity. The Ethiopian Church joined the Egyptian one (which joined the Monophysite schism in the 5th century). Perhaps it came to control southern Arabia in the 6th century, the empire of Aksum declined from the 7th, due to the Arab-Islamic expansion and the pressure of the begia. The center of gravity of the Christian empire, threatened by Islamic Ethiopian rulers, moved to the mountainous regions of the South. In the 12th-13th century. the dynasty Zagwe continued the Aksumite legacy in the Lasta region and gave rise to a political, religious and artistic flowering, especially with Lalibela (1190-1225). The Zagwe were deposed by Yekuno Amlak (1270-85), who proclaimed himself restorer of the Solomonides dynasty of Aksum, from the mythical progenitor, the negus Menelik son of Solomon and the queen of Sheba, and moved the center of the empire to the Amhara. Relations between the monarchy and the Church became close. The granting of land benefits to monasteries and the aristocracy created the backbone of Ethiopian feudalism. After the defeat inflicted by Amda Sion (1314-44) on the sultanate of Ifat, the power of Ethiopia Christian reached its peak with Zara Iaqob (1434-68), who centralized power by limiting the noble one, repressed religious heresies, supported missionary monasticism, established a truce with Muslims and promoted contacts with the West (Ethiopian delegation to the Council of Ferrara-Florence of 1439-41 ). But under his successors the central power weakened, while the Muslims drew momentum from the Turkish conquest of Egypt (1517). In 1527 Ahmad ibn Ibrahim al-Ghazi known as Grañ (the Left-handed) unleashed the jihad against Christians from the Adal. In 1541, when the empire, devastated and undermined by mass conversions to Islam, was reduced to only Tigray, Lebna Dengel (1508-40) obtained the help of the Portuguese. Grañ fell in battle in 1543, but the war continued, creating a vacuum of power which the Oromo, Cushitic-speaking nomads who, from SE, penetrated the plateau, wiping out the Adal and substantially changing the configuration of the Ethiopian population, took advantage.. Sarsa Dengel (1563-97) stopped the Oromo advance and Turkish expansionism (1589). Susenyos (1607-32) sanctioned an ephemeral religious union with Catholicism (1621-32). The ecclesiastical and popular reaction against the negus, the Portuguese and the Jesuits led the successor Fasiladas (1632-67) to return to monophysitism and expel the Europeans. The capital was established in Gondar. A certain stability prevailed until the reign of Iyasu I (1682-1706), while the 18th century. it was a phase of turbulence and decay of central power (the “time of the judges”), with weak emperors controlled by the nobility and the Oromo military leaders, while Tigray and Shoa became de facto independent.
The new empire: secc. 19 ° -20 °. According to a2zdirectory, weakened in the 18th century. from provincial anarchy and excessive court power ofmilitary leaders (often Oromo), the imperial institution of Ethiopia saw in the mid-nineteenth century a rebirth by a notable from Tigray, ras Kasa, a member of the imperial house, who in 1855, reunited the pieces of the old empire, assumed the crown with the name of Theodore II (1855-68), repressed the autonomies feudal and ecclesiastical and attempted modernizing reforms but, having come into conflict with the Europeans who were beginning to settle in the Red Sea region, he was defeated in 1868 by a British expedition and took his own life. After succession struggles, another Tigrayan aristocrat, also named Kasa, ascended the throne as John IV (1872-89). He countered the expansionist aims of Egyptians, Italians – who tried to occupy territories from their bases on the Red Sea coast (➔ Eritrea) and who beat Dogali in 1887 – and Mahdists (➔ mahdi) of Sudan, strengthened relations with the Church and reached a compromise with the aristocratic autonomies. Upon his death, power passed to the Shoa negus, Menelik II (1889-1913), who inaugurated the hegemony of the Amhara- speaking ruling group, putting an end to the dominance of the Tigrinians. The Treaty of Uccialli was signed in 1889, Menelik completed in the South the conquests already started as king of the Shoa, bringing the Ethiopia at the current borders. Oromo, Sidamo, Somalis and other groups, largely Muslim, were annexed and subjected to a form of military feudalism. He then moved the center of the empire south, founding the new capital Addis Ababa, in the Shoa. Wiped out in 1896 by an Italian invasion (➔ Adua), Menelik strengthened the international position of Ethiopia and initiated a modernization of the empire. The successor, Iyasu V (1913-16), pro-Islamic, anti-English and pro-Turkish, was deposed in 1916 and replaced by Empress Zauditu (1917-30). But it was the ras who held the real powerTafari Makonnen, regent with right of succession. Tafari, who promoted the modernization and centralization of the state (national army, modern administration, reduction of feudal burdens and slavery), ascended the throne under the name of Haile Selassie I (1930-74), granting a limited constitution. In 1935, Fascist Italy invaded the country, occupying it with a bloody war (1936) and challenging the condemnation of the League of Nations (E. had been a member since 1923). The negus fixed in England and the Ethiopia it became the heart of the newly established Italian East Africa. The brief colonial occupation, which sparked a ruthlessly repressed patriotic war, but also widespread connivance among the populations subject to Christian-Amharic hegemony, saw substantial infrastructural investments. Haile Selassie returned to the throne in 1941, after the Italian defeat at the hands of the British. Conquered for Ethiopia an access to the Red Sea through the former Italian Eritrea, which from a federated entity (1952) was then unilaterally annexed as a province (1962), causing a long war for independence, Haile Selassie pursued an active African policy after the war, placing himself as one of the fathers of the continent’s independence (but remained solidly pro-Western) and was the main architect of the Organization of African Unity (➔ African Union). Despite the underlying socio-political traditionalism of the negus and the persistence of a monarchical-aristocratic hegemony, modernization received strong impetus, especially with the birth of a bureaucratic and military petty bourgeoisie.
After the fall of the monarchy. The contradictions of the power system established by Haile Selassie (a mixture of traditionalism and economic and technological modernization), which had already led to a failed military coup in 1960, worsened until they exploded in 1974, when the discomfort caused by the famine and from the increase in prices it was welded to the protests of the students and the military, tested by the bad trend of the anti-Secessionist war in Eritrea. The latter took the lead of the social revolt and assumed control of the state through a coordination committee, the Derg which deposed the negus (Sep 12, 1974). He died in captivity (probably killed) and many members of the old order were executed. As a nationalist, the revolution took on Marxist connotations (nationalizations, land collectivization, popular mobilization bodies, etc.), achieving the historical result of dismantling the feudal order. The struggle in the Derg between moderates and radicals (two heads of state were killed, Aman Adom in 1974 and Tafari Banti in 1977) saw the latter prevail in 1977 with Menghistu Haile Mariam, who conducted bloody purges (the “red terror”). In 1977-78 the Ethiopia, supported by Soviets and Cubans, faced aggression by Somalia, which claimed the Ethiopian province of Ogaden, populated by Somalis. Despite the effort to hold together the multinational team created by the old empire, the regime failed to overcome Eritrean secessionism, strengthened by the rebellion that broke out in Tigray by the Tigray people’s liberation front (TPLF). Famines, excesses of collectivization, brutal transfers of entire populations accentuated the armed opposition. Eritreans and Tigers entered into an autonomist and anti-regime alliance. East-West détente and Soviet disengagement accelerated Mengistu’s collapse. Deprived of military aid, his regime succumbed in May 1991 to the advance of the Ethiopian people’s revolutionary democratic front (EPRDF), a coalition of forces hegemonized by the TPLF, which had abandoned the original Marxist-Leninist ideology. The de facto separation of Eritrea (formally independent in 1993), the government of Meles Zenawi established an ethnic-based federalism with the 1994 Constitution. The new Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia it was endowed with regions for each of the ethnic groups or coalitions of ethnic groups, in addition to the territory of the capital, Addis Ababa, with the obligation for all political parties to define themselves ethnically. The Amhara element, having lost its hegemony over the state, suffered repression and marginalization and for a long time kept out of federal politics. Beyond the forms of representative democracy, power remained de facto concentrated in the hands of Meles Zenawi and the EPRDF and the real degree of federal autonomy turned out to be very small. A certain economic liberalization and overall growth characterized the 1990s. Relations with Eritrea deteriorated and resulted in a border war (1998), which lasted until a peace agreement brokered by the Organization of African Unity and the UN (2000). The demarcation of the border left open questions and strained relationships. The 2005 elections saw an advance of the opposition and were followed by accusations of government fraud and severely suppressed popular protests. Between 2006 and 2008 Ethiopian troops intervened in Somalia supporting the transitional government against the Islamist forces (also supported by Eritrea) and protecting the security of Ethiopia, where Muslims are a very significant percentage, from the contagion of Islamism politic. The political elections of 2010 were again won by the party of Prime Minister Zenawi, despite the accusations of fraud and abuse made on this occasion by the opposition. where Muslims are a very significant percentage, from the contagion of political Islamism. The political elections of 2010 were again won by the party of Prime Minister Zenawi, despite the accusations of fraud and abuse made on this occasion by the opposition.