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Erlikh, Haggai (1973) A political biography of Ras Alula 1875-1897. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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Ras Alula played a significant role in the political history of northern Ethiopia during the period between the Egyptian invasion of 1875 and the Italian defeat at Adwa in 1896. This son of a peasant managed to avoid the local social scale by becoming the best general of the Tigrean Emperor Yohannes. As such, he helped his master to consolidate Tigrean hegemony in Ethiopia and was appointed as the governor of the problematic frontier province of the future Eritrea. External threats to this province made him a key figure in Ethiopia's relations with its African neighbours and with European powers. Alula's power, based on his imperial rank and provincial function, was at its height during the period of 1884-1887. His activities during those years culminated in military victories (at Kurit against the Mahdists and at Dogali against the Italians) but resulted in the collapse of his dual basis of power: Eritrea and the Tigrean emperor. Back in Tagre after the death of Yohannes in 1889, Alula's only way to avoid returning to the lower rungs of the feudal ladder was to preserve the Tigrean hegemony. Thus, as the counsellor of Yohannes's heir, Ras Mangasha, Alula became throughout the period of 1889-1893 the most persistent fighter for a Tegre independent of the Shoan Emperor Menilek II. His policy, however, based on uniting the Tigrean elite under Mangasha and attracting the Italians in Eritrea to join hands against the em-peror was unsuccessful. The Tigrean nobles never forgot his humble origin and the Italians could not forgive him for Dogali. Thus, in 1894, Alula fully recognised Menilek's hegemony just to return to the position of a 'King's man'. As such he fought in the battle of Adwa and met lis death a year later.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 14:59

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