Land and Society in the Christian Kingdom of Ethiopia: From the Thirteenth to the Twentieth Century

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University of Illinois Press, 2000 - History - 373 pages
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Donald Crummey's monumental work is the first extended history of Ethiopia to focus on the system of taxation and tribute, called gult, that underpinned the region's social and political structure for some seven centuries.

Land and Society in the Christian Kingdom of Ethiopia offers an original perspective on how the rulers of Ethiopia -- one of the great subcenters of agricultural innovation and development -- used land to support their dominion. Crummey draws on all the surviving documents pertaining to the holding and granting of agricultural land in the Ethiopian highlands from the thirteenth to the twentieth century. By examining how social relations affected the conditions for economic production and how people of power drew on the wealth created by society's basic producers, he provides new insight into how ordinary farming and herding folk were incorporated into and affected by the institutions that ruled them.

Crummey makes imaginative use of previously overlooked documents, particularly property records that were written in the margins and flyleaves of Ethiopian manuscripts. Primarily liturgical manuscripts that often contained records of the holdings of religious institutions, these documents also shed light on lay strategies of accumulation and transmission of wealth in land. Based on these records, Crummey determines that the persistence over centuries of a continuing pattern of social inequality can only be explained by the social character of gult as a foundation of enduring relations between the tribute payer and the tribute receiver.

Presenting new evidence to suggest that the nature of landed property and social class in Ethiopia was considerably moresophisticated than hitherto recognized, Land and Society in the Christian Kingdom of Ethiopia constitutes a major challenge to previous assumptions and understandings about land and social relations in this highly structured society.

 

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Contents

List of Tables Charts Maps and Illustrations
ix
Introduction
xix
Gult and the State 12001540
17
59
30
89
37
106
39
Gult Grants 12001508
48
Items Used to Define Gult Payments 12001540
49
Zämänä Mäsafent 176984
153
The Principal Sources
164
Royal Churches in and around Gondär Town in order of their founding
165
Sales of Measured Plots in Cambridge Add MSS 1570
179
Gult and the Reconstruction of the Monarchy 18681910
198
Gult Grants to Churches of the Reign of Yohannes IV
211
Gebzenna Grants of Menilek II
217
4t 117
222

Man Is Free Land Is Tributary
50
Order and Disorder
73
Gult Grants 15401632
87
Gult Lands Granted to Däbrä Berhan Sellasé Gondär by Iyasu I
89
Mentewwab How Beautiful She Is 172169
94
Gult Grants of Bäkaffa
100
Grants of Gult to Churches by Yetégé Mentewwab
105
Gult Grants to Individuals by Yetégé Mentewwab
106
Family and Property
114
Primary Documents in Chronological Order
117
Primary Documents Distinct from the Case of Gälawdéwos
124
The Era of the Princes
144
Lands of Bäata Gondär
147
Sources for the Land Grants of Täklä Haymanot 176977
148
Sources for the Land Grants of Sälomon 177779
149
Churches Benefiting from Land Grants in the Early
150

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