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Pedro Páez

(1,424 words)

Author(s): Cohen, Leonardo
BiographyPedro Páez Xaramillo, one of the most notable members of the Society of Jesus, was born in Olmedo de las Cebollas in 1564 to a noble Castilian family. On 18 June 1584, he was admitted into the Society of Jesus at the house of probation in Villarejo de Fuentes, Cuenca. From about 1584 to 1587, he studied philosophy at the Jesuit college of Belmonte, Cuenca, where he established a friendship with one of his teachers, the Navarrese theologian Tomás de Ituren, who encouraged him to pursue f…

 Expeditio Aethiopica, and letters

(1,163 words)

Author(s): Cohen, Leonardo
‘Ethiopian expedition’, and letters Afonso Mendes Date: 1622-55 Original Language: Latin DescriptionAfonso Mendes’ Expeditio Aethiopica, written in Latin, is primarily concerned with ecclesiastical matters, but includes a description of his journey through the Danakil dessert, which is especially relevant to the question of Muslim-Christian relations. It seems that Mendes worked on this book until 1654. In one of his last letters, which Mendes sent to Pedro de Valadares in that same year, Mendes explains that…

 História geral de Etiópia a Alta ou Preste Ioam

(2,863 words)

Author(s): Cohen, Leonardo
‘A history of Upper Ethiopia or Prester John’ Balthazar Tellez Date: 1660 Original Language: Portuguese DescriptionThe  História geral de Etiópia a Alta ou Preste Ioam, e do que nella obraram os Padres da Companhia de Iesus. Composta na mesma Ethiopia pelo Padre Manoel d’Almeyda, natural de Vizeu, Provincial e Visitador, que foy na India. Abraviada com Nova Releyçam, e Methodo, pello Padre Balthazar Tellez, Natural de Lisboa, Provincial da Provincia Lusitana: Ambos da mesma Companhia (Coimbra, 1660) is comprised of six books (736 pages in the 1660 edition). It is not …

 História da Etiópia

(2,005 words)

Author(s): Cohen, Leonardo
‘History of Ethiopia’ Pedro Páez Date: 1621 Original Language: Portuguese DescriptionPedro Páez composed História da Etiópia in the early 17th century. In 1615, he began gathering the material for this work, which started as an attempt to refute the treatise – riddled with errors and fanciful elements – that the Dominican Luis de Urreta had produced some years earlier. Páez’s endeavour became a pioneering work in Ethiopian historiography and ethnography. Besides being a first-hand testimony to the events of the ti…

Balthazar Tellez

(485 words)

Author(s): Cohen, Leonardo
BiographyBalthazar Tellez (also Teles) was a Jesuit author. The son of a British captain, he entered the Society of Jesus as a novice at Coimbra in 1610, taking his simple vows that year and his solemn vows in 1631. He taught humanities, philosophy and theology for nine years at the colleges of Braga, Coimbra, Evora and Lisbon, where he rose to senior leadership positions. In 1624, he published Summa universae philosophiae in Lisbon.Tellez was later appointed rector of the Irish seminary of St Patrick, a seminary at the Santo Antão College, and superior of São Roqu…

Täklä Śəllase

(605 words)

Author(s): Cohen, Leonardo
BiographyTäklä Śəllase was an Ethiopian priest and the royal chronicler during the reign of the Emperor Susənyos (1606-32). Of Oromo origin, he grew up among the monks of the Däbrä Libanos monastery. He was nicknamed ‘Ṭino’, a name that in the Oromo language refers to a person of short stature. Towards the end of the rule of the Emperor Śarśa Déngél, Täklä Śəllase led a group of priests who sang the q ə ne, a type of hymn expressing adoration, praise or thanksgiving, improvised by the d ä bt ä ra (lay ecclesiastics) during the celebration of the Divine Office.Under the influence of Jesuit mi…

Zä Dəngəl, Emperor of Ethiopia

(769 words)

Author(s): Cohen, Leonardo
BiographyZä Dəngəl reigned for one year as Emperor of Ethiopia (1603-4) under the throne name Asnaf Sägəd II. He was the nephew of Emperor Śärìä Dəngəl, and ruled during a turbulent period when the Ethiopian monarchy was weak and constantly challenged. Dynastic struggles erupted after the demise of Śärìä Dəngəl, who initially promised the crown to Zä Dəngəl. However, in 1596, the empress and her power-hungry sons-in-law,  ras Atnatewos, the governor of the province of Goǧǧam, and Kəfəlä waḥəd, governor of Təgray, persuaded the dying sovereign to bequeath the th…

Afonso Mendes

(951 words)

Author(s): Cohen, Leonardo
BiographyAfonso Mendes was appointed as the third Catholic patriarch of Ethiopia by King Philip IV of Spain and Portugal in 1621 (following João Nunes Barreto and Andre de Oviedo). His service coincided with the last years of the reign of the Emperor Susənyos (r. 1607-32), in the period in which Catholicism was established by the emperor as the official religion of Ethiopia.  Mendes was born in the province of Alentejo, close to the Spanish border. His first acquaintance with the Society of Jesus was during his studies at Coimbra. In February 1593, at the…

 Chronica de Susenyos, rei de Ethiopia

(665 words)

Author(s): Cohen, Leonardo
‘Chronicles of Susənyos, King of Ethiopia’ Täklä Śəllase Date: 1629 Original Language: Ge'ez DescriptionEven though the usefulness of royal chronicles is limited by the fact that they are ‘official’ traditions and are representative of a particular stratum of the Amharic-Təgreñña society in Ethiopia, they have nevertheless played an important role in the reconstruction of Ethiopia’s past, being the vehicle through which local perceptions of historical developments are expressed. Says John McCann: ‘Even if th…

Manoel de Almeida

(526 words)

Author(s): Cohen, Leonardo
BiographyManoel de Almeida was born in Viseu, Portugal. Despite his parents’ objection, he became a novice in the Society of Jesus when he was 14 years old. He later studied at Coimbra and met distinguished members of the Society, such as Afonso Mendes, the future Catholic patriarch of Ethiopia, and the Portuguese provincials Simão Álvares and Álvaro Tavares.After his novitiate, de Almeida studied literature and philosophy (for two and four years, respectively). During this time, the Jesuits Francisco Vieira and Alberto Laercio travelled to Portugal f…

 Carta do Emperador de Ethiopia pera sua Santidade de 26 de junho do anno de 1604

(632 words)

Author(s): Cohen, Leonardo
‘Letter from the Emperor of Ethiopia to his Holiness, of 26 June 1604’ Zä Dəngəl, Emperor of Ethiopia Date: 1604 Original Language: Portuguese DescriptionAccording to Pedro Páez, although Zä Dəngəl was inclined to accept Catholicism, he preferred to keep this secret. The emperor was interested in marrying his son to the daughter of King Philip III of Spain (and Portugal) in order to consolidate the union between the two kingdoms. On 26 June 1604, he wrote letters to Pope Clement VIII, King Philip III, and Aires de Saldanha, the Viceroy of India, which Páez included them in História da Etióp…

 História da Etiópia a alta, ou Abassia

(946 words)

Author(s): Cohen, Leonardo
História da Etiópia‘History of Ethiopia‘ Manoel de Almeida Date: 1645 Original Language: Portuguese DescriptionDe Almeida began his História da Etiópia a alta, ou Abassia in Gorgora, Ethiopia, at the end of the 1620s. After his return to Goa and the failed Jesuit attempts to return to Ethiopia, he abandoned the work, and only in 1639, under instructions of the general of the Society, did he return to it, completing it between 1643 and 1645. However, although the Jesuit historian Balthazar Tellez published an abridged …