“The Eighteen Million Täwaḥǝdo Victims of Martyr-Saint Adyam Sägäd Iyasu”: Towards a Better Understanding of Lasta–Tǝgray Defiance of the Royal Centre of Gondärine Ethiopia (1630s–1760s)
Keywords:Manuscripts, Gädl, Politics, Religion, Christianity, Christology, Unctionists, Religious Controversy
AbstractTwo gädls, briefly examined in this study, portray Iyasu I as a Ṣägga Lǝǧ partisan. Ṣägga Lǝǧ is one of two views dismissed as heresy at the 1878 Boru Meda synod. This synod settled the Christological controversy that beset the Ethiopian Church for two and a half centuries, by declaring Karra, the polemical name for Täwaḥǝdo, as official orthodoxy. What is strange about the accounts of the two gädls is that they seem to contradict one
of the doxas of Ethiopian historiography, which is that Iyasu I was a diehard Täwaḥǝdo. This study resolves this enigma by showing that during the Gondärine period the Täwaḥǝdo teaching, which enjoyed the recognition of the royal centre as orthodoxy, was Ṣägga Lǝǧ. Such revision of the historiography of the doctrinal controversy in turn paves the way for a better understanding of the rebellion of Lasta and southern Tǝgray, against the monarchial centre of Gondärine Ethiopia. So far, the history of this rebellion
is poorly understood due to the wrong assumption that the Karra teaching championed by the Lasta–Tǝgray group at the time was the same Täwaḥǝdo of the monarchial centre. No historian could thus entertain the possibility of a long lasting rebellion in the name of Karra. This study shows that throughout much of the Gondarine period, Karra was rather the doctrine of a third party that defied the centre using Lasta and southern
Tǝgray as safe-heavens.
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