Brief History of Wollo
The province of Wollo , formerly known as its name “Amhara” is a province in north-central Ethiopia. It was traditionally known as the province of “Bet-Amhara” or home/origin of the Amhara (central and southern mod Wollo). Wollo its known as "the land of love", culture and as mausoleum of different ethnic groups, primarily the Amhara, as well as containing Oromo , Agew, Afar , and Argobbas.
Historically the northern part of Wollo was part of the Axumite empire , although evidence suggests there was Axumite presence as far south as Kombolcha. The Estifanos monastery in Lake Hayq, built in the 8th century indicates the transfer of traditional power. However, after Axum fell, the Zagwe Dynasty , an Agew dynasty based in Lasta, in North-Western Wollo ruled. Soon, in 1270 they were overthrown by a prince named Yekuno Amlak. Originally from the Amhara province, he claimed descendance from the last Axumite emperor Dil Naod & re-established the Solomonic Line. Gaining support from his home province of Amhara and Shewa, he became emperor , the seat of power was again transferred from Lasta to Amhara and his dynasty would continue to rule until 1974. 📍
Wollo would serve as the cultural homeland of the Ethiopian empire, being the site of numerous castles and churches while Shewa would serve as the political base. In 1527 however, the invasions of Gragn ravaged Wollo particularly, and forcibly converted many of its inhabitants to Islam. The expulsion of his invading force however was soon followed by the Oromo invasions, which also sacked the old province. As as result many of the old district names were renamed into the names of the Oromo clans who occupied it. Amhara became "Wallo", Bet Giorgis became Werre-Illu, Angot became Raya etc, and the seat of power was concentrated westwards to the area of Lake Tana.
It soon became an important base of Oromo political hegemony, particularly from Yejju and controlled the powerless emperors during the Zemene Mesafint (1769-1855). The province continued to be dominated by Oromos until Emperor Tewodros. It became an important region & is romanticized now as a land of tolerance and co-existence
Brief History of Ethiopian Provinces: Gonder
The province of Gonder, formerly known as Begemder was a province located in north-western Ethiopia above Lake Tana. It contained the historical regions of Begemder, Semien, Qwara, Welkayt, Dembiya, and more. It served historical seat and capital of Ethiopia from 1635 by Emperor Fasilidas.
The first mention of presence dates to the 3rd century when Axumite emperors recorded expeditions crossing the Tekeze River to extract tribute. The Tekeze river historically served as the boundary between the Tigray province to its east and the Amhara to its west. The name Begemder was first mentioned in the 14th century. Begemder (which at that time only located east of Lake Tana, along with Amhara (modern Wollo) were homogeneously Christian Amhara and were the site of several churches, but the northern province of Semien was inhabited by Jewish Bete Israel peoples who resisted conversions. In the 16th century, after the defeat of Ahmed Gragn, the Kingdom was faced with subsequent Oromo invasions from the south. Amhara and Shewa, the previous political center of Ethiopia were invaded and occupied by the Oromo Lubas and as a result the kingdom was forced to shift the capital north-west to the Lake Tana, the former provinces abandoned at the mercy of the new occupants. 📍
Emperor Fasilidas famously founded Gonder in 1635 (although the area was previously the site of royal castles in Emfraz a century before). He built many spectacular castles in the area known as Fasil Gebbi and started the Gonder dynasty, described as the Golden period in Ethiopian history due to its peaceful reign, stability and wealth. His descendants such as Iyasu built several castles and churches. Gonder itself grew massive, becoming the 2nd largest city in Africa. However. central rule soon declined, culminating in the Zemene Mesafint, where emperors were nothing but figureheads and power was held with the Yejju Oromo regents who ruled in Gonder. This was ended by Tewodros, a native of Qwara who reunited the country. Although its importance declined, Gonder continued to remain the symbolic capital of Ethiopia until the foundation of Addis Ababa, in Shewa.
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