Relive the glory of the once mighty Aksumite empire and rule over the Red Sea. Launch military expeditions into the Arabian peninsula and far beyond to hold a firm grip on your trading partners. Will your dynasty stand strong against internal conflicts or will your successor already be preparing your funeral. Only the strongest dynasty will survive…
- Archers fire +15% faster
- Receive +100 gold, +100 food when advancing to the next Age
- Pikeman and Halberdier upgrades free
- Shotel Warrior (infantry)
- Royal Heirs: Shotel Warriors are created nearly instantly
- Torsion Engines: Siege workshop units blast radius increased
- Towers and Outposts +3 LOS
Ethiopia was mentioned for the first time around 1200BC in the Greek epic poem the Iliad, although the term referred to the entire region south of Egypt. Starting in the 4th century AD, “Ethiopia” was used more specifically to refer to the kingdom of Aksum and its successor states, situated in the present-day countries of Eritrea and northern Ethiopia. The 15th century Book of Aksum, a collection of historical documents, explained this connotation to Ityopp’is, son of the biblical Cush and legendary founder of the city of Aksum.
The kingdom of Aksum (AD 100 – 940) was a major naval and trading power. Located at the mouth of the Red Sea, the empire profited from its central position in the maritime network between the Roman Empire, India and Arabia. The port of Adulis was an international trade hub for silk, spices, glass, gold and ivory. Although elephants have become an endangered species in the region, herds were abundant during the Middle Ages and, consequently, ivory was a major export product. Aksum’s commercial dealings were at the same time a primary motivation and source for military campaigns: from the 3rd century onwards, the kingdom regularly sent expeditions to the Arabian Peninsula and in the 4th century, King Ezana conquered the neighboring kingdom of Kush. Surpassed only by Rome, Persia and China, Ethiopia was one of the greatest world powers of that time.
At first, the Aksumites practiced a polytheistic religion. Most remarkably, they erected grand burial monuments, such as large stelae (up to 33 metres high) and tombs. Under the rule of King Ezana, Aksum adopted Christianity, which would remain the state religion throughout the Middle Ages. Nevertheless, both Jews and Muslims enjoyed toleration throughout the region. In AD 615, Ethiopia even gave shelter to some of the early followers of the prophet Muhammad, and would maintain generally good relations with Islamic powers until the 16th century.
The decline of the Aksumite empire was a slow process that began in the 8th century and was caused by several factors. First, the rise of Islamic states in the Arabian Peninsula and Northern Africa marked the end of Aksum’s dominance over trade in the Red Sea. Second, climate change and deforestation reduced agricultural output. Finally, a civil war around AD 940 weakened the kingdom, allowing Queen Yodit to kill the last Aksumite king. Historians still debate over whether this queen is to be seen as the founder of the Zagwe dynasty (AD 940- 1270) or whether this kingdom was established only after Mara Takla Haymanot overthrew her descendants in AD 1137. Likewise, the following history of the Zagwe remains shrouded in mystery.
Sources on the subject of the successor state of the Zagwe Dynasty are more common. In AD 1270, a local nobleman, Yekuno Amlak, questioned the legitimacy of the ruling king and usurped the throne, thus founding the long-lasting Solomonic dynasty. Through military expeditions and administrative reformation, Emperor Amda Seyon (AD 1314-1344) managed to consolidate the dynasty’s power and greatly expand Ethiopian territory. As with the Aksumite kingdom, the Ethiopian army consisted mainly of archers and infantry with spears and swords. Perhaps the most characteristic weapon was the Shotel, a curved sword used to dismount cavalry or to reach around shields.
At the end of the Middle Ages, the Solomonic dynasty, surrounded by Islamic states, sought to make contact with European kingdoms. After the failure of the Crusades, Europe was looking for Christian allies. Pursuing the legend of Prester John, a wealthy Christian king rumored to reign in the east, a Portugese expedition reached Ethiopia in AD 1490. This proved to be an important meeting, as the Adal Sultanate invaded and conquered most of Ethiopia four decades later. In response, Emperor Dawit II requested the help of the Portuguese, who sent 400 musketeers. Together, they were able to repel the invaders, and until the late 20th century the Solomonic dynasty would remain in control.