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EARLY SOLOMONIC COURTLY PATRONAGE PRACTICES AND CONTACTS WITH THE WIDER CHRISTIAN WORLD IN PRE-JIHADIC ETHIOPIA [Abstract ID: 0511-05]
This paper discusses the diplomatic contacts maintained between the early Solomonic rulers of Ethiopia with the wider Christian world, and the impact of these contacts on the religious material culture produced in Ethiopia in the late 15th and early 16th centuries. This paper suggests a new perspective, demonstrating that Ethiopia was a successful international broker of far-reaching diplomatic relations, with its own political and religious agenda. It argues against the notion that changes in courtly culture were simply precipitated through the agency of single individuals, such as the Venetian Nicolo Brancaleon; instead, it reads these changes as part of a larger Ethiopian attempt to actively re-shape and re-frame Ethiopian traditions, fulfill specific imperial agendas as well as courtly needs within pre-jihadic Ethiopian society.