The (re)Introduction of Nubia and Ethiopia to Europe during the crusading era, c.1100-c.1400

Simmons, Adam and Jotischky, Andrew and Ambler, Sophie Therese (2019) The (re)Introduction of Nubia and Ethiopia to Europe during the crusading era, c.1100-c.1400. PhD thesis, Lancaster University.

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This thesis analyses the exchange of knowledge regarding the African kingdoms of Nubia and Ethiopia between the wider Eastern Mediterranean and Europe. Whilst employing a varied linguistic (Latin, French, Italian, Spanish, Greek, Old Nubian, Arabic, and Gəʿəz) and theoretical (e.g. Network Analysis) approach, this thesis traces how such knowledge circulated and was, in turn, utilised for specific purposes. It argues that the onset of the Crusades formed the catalyst for the subsequent expansion of geographical knowledge following a period of centuries-long stagnation despite the expansive knowledge networks of Late Antiquity. Section One (Chs. I, II, III) (re)introduces Ethiopians and Nubians into European thought following their period of anonymity in the latter centuries of the first millennium, tracing the foundations of ancient knowledge at the beginning of the millennium and how this differed to that known during the early crusading years at the turn of the twelfth century. With the creation of the Crusader States, Section Two (Chs. IV, V, VI) analyses the development of knowledge as a result of increased undocumented dissemination, principally via undocumented networks and communal knowledge in the Holy Land. Finally, Section Three (Chs. VII, VIII) explores how this new information was utilised, particularly in the search for allies in the defence of the Holy Land. Through the growing early information of Prester John, which this thesis argues developed distinctly between the African Prester Johns of Nubia and Ethiopia, Europeans actively sought to communicate with the kingdoms. Ultimately, Europeans hoped for a military alliance and both kingdoms found themselves in varying crusade treatises following the fall of the Crusader States. Above all, this thesis argues that the post1402 interactions between Ethiopia and Europe were actually founded upon earlier notions of Nubia, which following the kingdom’s demise in the fourteenth century, forced European attentions to turn to Ethiopia instead.

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22 May 2019 11:20
Last Modified:
07 May 2024 23:28