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Ezana - An Axumite King

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  • Neal Robbins
    Ezana was a monarch of the ancient Axumite Kingdom. He ruled during the years 330-356 A.D. The Axumite kingdom included portions of what are now in Ethiopia,
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 17, 2006
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          Ezana was a monarch of the ancient Axumite Kingdom. He ruled during the years 330-356 A.D. The Axumite kingdom included portions of what are now in Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Yemen.
          Ezana became king when his father Ella Amida died. Since Ezana was still a child at the time, his mother Sofya served as regent until Ezana was old enought to rule. Ezana was a significant king; he was the first Axumite ruler to accept Christianity. King Ezana had a Syrian Christain tutor named Frumentius. He appointed Frumentius as leader of the Ethiopian Church.
          The Arian Roman emperor Constantius wrote a letter to Ezana. Constantius requested that Ezana be sent to Alexandria to be questioned about "errors of doctrine". Constantius apparently ignored the request.
          Ezana conducted some military campaigns against the Nubians. His victories over them are recorded on the Ezana Stone. These records are written in Sabaean, Ge'ez, and Greek; thus they are a trilingual inscription.
          The Church of St. Mary of Zion was built during Ezana's reign. It unfortunately was destroyed twice in later times, but was rebuilt. The first destruction occurred during the 10th century A.D. A Nubian queen named Yodit Gudit invaded the Axumite kingdom and caused some devastation. The invasion resulted in the slaughter of much of the Axumite royalty.
         The church was again destroyed in the 16th century A.D. This happened when Ahmed Ibn Al Ghazi led his forces into Axum. The Axumite emperor Gelawadiwos reconstructed the Church of St. Mary  and Emperor Minas made some additions to it. 
          Some accounts say that the original Church of St. Mary of Zion in Axum had twelve altars. The high altar was said to have been dedicated to St. Mary. Mary as given the title "Eternal Queen of Ethiopia".
          Emperor Fasiledes completely rebuilt this church in the early 17th century. This structure is the one that exists today.
          Axumite coins began to have crosses on them during the reign of Ezana. Some coins of his reign have been found in India. This indicates that Ethiopia and India were trading at the time.
          One Axumite coin (minted during the rule of Ezana) found in Ethiopia has an inscription that says "May this please the people". It is written in Greek; the Axumites used Greek to a considerable extent for a while.
       
      Neal Robbins
       
      P.S. It was said that King Ezana had the Ark of the Covenant brought to Axum and placed in the Church of St. Mary of Zion for a while. Some stories say that it was then taken out of the church and hidden somewhere to prevent theft.


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