Era of the Princes

The Era of the Princes, also called Zamana Masafent, was a brief period of history in Ethiopia that lasted from 1769 to 1855. By 1708, the central government was destroyed and the country had split up into three different provinces: Amhara, Shoa, and Tigray. The Amhara region was continually in internal faction and contributed poorly to defending Ethiopia against external enemies. Tigray, on the other had, played a major role in reinstating an imperial government and hosted a decisive battle at Adwa. On the other had, Shoa, for the most part, stayed out of the political situations that dealt with the Amhara and Tigray regions. However, Shoan kings did expand their territories southwards and established trade that produce an abundance of coffee and slaves. Ethiopia survived this era in its history because of Tigray and Shoa’s gaining steady power.

Most of Africa was not yet a colonial hotspot at this time. Ethiopia’s biggest foe was Egypt. Egypt had freed itself from Ottoman control and was now pursuing to expand southwards. The Egyptians attacked and seized lands in northern Tigray but French and British intervenes helped diminish Egypt’s attempts to expand south.

Europeans gained even more interest in Ethiopia for the duration of this period. Trade rejuvenated and tribal lords gained more access to firearms. In the north, Tigraen rulers were able to get hold of guns from the Turks by means of two-way transactions and used them to seize power. Europeans of many trades and profession visited the kingdom with more regularity. Missionaries sponsored by the Swiss, German, and English governments attempted to convert Ethiopians to protestantism. Most of the missionaries were met with dismayed attitudes and they, more often then not, fell in awkward positions with civilians and the church. Most Ethiopian rulers were more concerned with the prospective support and firearms the country would receive rather than the missionaries’ religious endeavors. The missionaries’ attempts failed but they did bring about awareness of the potential of technological advancement.

List of Rulers of the Zamana Masafent

1769Yohannes II
1769Takla Haymanot II
1769-79Solomon II
1779-84Tekle Giyorgis
1784-88Iyasu III
1788-89Tekle Giyorgis
1795Tekla Giyorgis
1795Baeda Maryam II
1796-97Solomon III
1799Solomon III
1799Tekla Giyorgis
1800Tekle Giyorgis
1801-18Egwala Tseyon
1818-21Iyoas II
1826Baeda Maryam III
1830-32Iyasu IV
1832 Gabra Krestos
1832-40Sahela Dengel
1840-41Yohannes III
1841-55Sahela Dengel