'; ICES20 at Mekelle University: 20th International Conference of Ethiopian Studies
Geralta mountains

20th International Conference of Ethiopian Studies (ICES20)
Mekelle University, Ethiopia

"Regional and Global Ethiopia - Interconnections and Identities"
1-5 October, 2018

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EVIDENCE OF THE FETHA NÄGÄST'S BROADER SOCIAL IMPACT ON EARLY MODERN ETHIOPIAN SOCIETY [Abstract ID: 0808-12]

David SPIELMAN, University of California Los Angeles

This study explores the practical use of the Fetha Nägäst (Law of Kings) in early modern Ethiopian society. It does so by drawing upon evidence contained in Portuguese Jesuit travel accounts, composed between the early 16th and mid 17th centuries. While the analysis draws upon only a few examples, the evidence contests previous scholarship that claims adherence and application of the legal principles and doctrines contained in the Fetha Nägäst were confined to the courts of the Kings, and impact on the broader society was meager. Further, this analysis suggests that the legal doctrines and principles of the Fetha Nägäst held a considerable amount of influence over a wider gamut of the Ethiopian population than previous scholarship has revealed.