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Land and Society in the Christian Kingdom of Ethiopia From the Thirteenth to the Twentieth Century cover
  • ISBN: 9780252024825
  • ISBN10: 0252024826

Land and Society in the Christian Kingdom of Ethiopia from the Thirteenth to the Twentieth Century

by Donald Crummey

  • List Price: $68.00
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: Univ of Illinois Pr
  • Publish date: 07/01/2000
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Donald Crummey's monumental work is the first extended history of Ethiopia to focus on the system of taxation and tribute, called gult, that underpinned the region's social and political structure for some seven centuries.

Land and Society in the Christian Kingdom of Ethiopia offers an original perspective on how the rulers of Ethiopia -- one of the great subcenters of agricultural innovation and development -- used land to support their dominion. Crummey draws on all the surviving documents pertaining to the holding and granting of agricultural land in the Ethiopian highlands from the thirteenth to the twentieth century. By examining how social relations affected the conditions for economic production and how people of power drew on the wealth created by society's basic producers, he provides new insight into how ordinary farming and herding folk were incorporated into and affected by the institutions that ruled them.

Crummey makes imaginative use of previously overlooked documents, particularly property records that were written in the margins and flyleaves of Ethiopian manuscripts. Primarily liturgical manuscripts that often contained records of the holdings of religious institutions, these documents also shed light on lay strategies of accumulation and transmission of wealth in land. Based on these records, Crummey determines that the persistence over centuries of a continuing pattern of social inequality can only be explained by the social character of gult as a foundation of enduring relations between the tribute payer and the tribute receiver.

Presenting new evidence to suggest that the nature of landed property and social class in Ethiopia was considerably moresophisticated than hitherto recognized, Land and Society in the Christian Kingdom of Ethiopia constitutes a major challenge to previous assumptions and understandings about land and social relations in this highly structured society.

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