The end of the period known as Zamana Masafint, the ‘Era of the Princes’ (ca. 1780-1855), heralded the dawn of a new era in Ethiopian history, whose developments went on to leave an imprint for the succeeding generations. The warring traditions and regional conflicts for regional hegemony and control of the monarchy residing in Gondar that characterized this period were left aside and in their place a renewed interest on the central government was rekindled. Such a move towards centralizing tendency was ensured with the coming to power of Kassa Hailu of Quara, the future Tewodros II. Born in the tradition of the Zamana Masafint, Kassa Hailu treaded carefully along the warring tracks of the period to make himself the king of kings of the country.
Figure 1: Tewodros II in a French engraving
Tewodros and his Modernisation Project
The reign of Tewodros II was emblematic of the historical developments that can be alluded to many periods of the country’s history. For example, his perennial conflicts with regional war lords can be taken as the continuation of the Zamana Masafint traditions though Tewodros tried hard to ensure the success of his centralizing mission. Moreover, his relation with the Church was one characterized by collision rather than collusion. The ruler wanted to bring the Church into the circle of his ‘modernizing’ initiatives