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The Queen of the Habasha in Ethiopian History, Tradition and Chronology

Knud Tage Andersen
Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London
Vol. 63, No. 1 (2000), pp. 31-63
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1559587
Page Count: 33
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
The Queen of the Habasha in Ethiopian History, Tradition and Chronology
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Abstract

In this article I argue that the tenth-century Queen of Abyssinia, Gudit, was not a rebellious pagan vassal who conquered the Abyssinian throne, destroyed Aksum, the capital, persecuted priests and ruined churches as some scholars suggest. Neither was she, as Ethiopian tradition has it, a poor but beautiful prostitute in Aksum, who slept with a priest and was exiled for having tempted him, married a Syrian Jew and became a Jewess herself, burned Aksum, destroyed churches and persecuted the priests and the people. Rather, she was a legitimate member of the Christian Ethiopian royal family who captured the throne in a succession struggle, restored peace and order, ruled the country with authority for 40 years and founded a new, strong Christian dynasty which was to last for about 300 years. The negative view of the queen was only the result of a later aversion to accepting the idea of a woman on the Ethiopian throne.

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