Rise of Axum: A Timeline-Part I: Reign of Ezana​

  |   Written by   Fitawrari-ፊታውራሪ   |   ታሪክ/ history
Dear readers the following fictional history/story timeline is taken from alternatehistory.com posted by Yelnoc (Negusa Nagast), Dec 30, 2009. it looks very interesting so I decided to share it here as follow.

Part I: Reign of Ezana

In 321 AD, Ezana, son of Ella-Amida was crowned King of Axum. At the time, he was still a baby and his mother, Sofya, served as his regent. Outside of his family, one of Ezana’s largest influences growing up was his childhood tutor, Frumentius, who handled the administrative part of his mother’s regency and taught the young boy much about the day-to-day process of running a kingdom. Frumentius was also a Syrian Christian of the Monophysite branch who converted Ezana and his brothers at a young age, making Ezana the first Christian ruler of Axum. In 328 AD, Frumentius was ordained Bishop of Ethiopia by the Patriarch of Alexandria, who acted without the permission of the patriarch of Constantinople. Ezana would eventually make him the head of the Ethiopian Church.

On Ezana’s 18th birthday, he was by the traditions of Axum confirmed a man. With this, his mother stepped down from the regency and he began to pursue his own agenda of expanding and enriching the kingdom. He appointed his two brothers, Se’azana and Hadefa, Princes of Axum and gave them a position in his court as his two closest advisors. Se’azana was his chief military advisor, a fearsome man who would reinvigorate the regiments of Axum, making many of Ezana’s future campaigns possible. Hadefa was his chief advisor on trade. It was he who established some of the most lucrative trade routes with India and also he who advised Ezana to mint coins with the image of the Cross on them when Ezana converted to Christianity. They would help him with the administration of the Kingdom and support him in his conquests.

In the mean time, the Kingdom was becoming rich with trade. Goods from Rome flowed down the Red Sea to Adulis, Axum’s major port, and from there to India and vice versa. The King’s coiffeurs were filled with money from the trade, as were the pockets of the average man. Grains, ivory, incense, salt, iron, gold, slaves, and exotic animals were all axumite exports and were bought for high prices in faraway lands. Besides enriching the people of Axum, this also spread the Kingdom’s influence and raised its prestige with other nations. Even more importantly, the money would be used by Se’azana under Ezana’s discretion to fund a rejuvenation of the army.

In roughly 343 AD, Ezana began his campaigns. He raised a vast army, commanded by him and divided into five regiments, one to him and each of his brothers, the other two commanded by Ousanas and Eon, both veteran warriors. They first marched against Sarane of Afan to the south and the Agwezat to the east, two Axumite provinces in a state of rebellion. After defeating both tribes, Ezana resettled the more troublesome members of the tribes outside of his realm, effectively ending any resistance in the region. He then turned his attention northward. The semi-nomadic Bega had been raiding into the Ethiopian highlands for centuries. The army swiftly crushed the Begans. Ezana offered to allow them to remain on their ancestral land if the surviving warriors would join his army as auxiliaries. When the Begans learned that he was offering them a chance to get rich they readily agreed; for Ezana had set his sight on Axum’s historical trade rival, Meroe.

Meroe, or Kush as it was sometimes referred to, was a major trading
kingdom along the Nile River, just south of Egypt. When trade switched from the Nile to the Red Sea in around 100 AD, the kingdom began a slow decline. One of Ezana’s pagan ancestors had invaded it roughly a century before and conquered much of southern Meroe, namely the Alwa people. Sometime afterwards, the Noba, or Nubatae as they were known to the Romans, rebelled and took much of northern Meroe for themselves. Ezana was determined to finish what his ancestor had started, to conquer the entire region and secure Axum’s northern border.

The invasion began in the spring of 350 AD, Ezana was aged 30. His army still consisted of the five regiments, but had the added strength of the Began auxiliaries who were sworn to his service. The army made boats and traveled north along the Atbara River to where it joined with the Nile. Here the first major battle was fought against Kushite forces in the town of Daro. The Axumites emerged victorious, routing the enemy and taking many prisoners. The town was renowned for its fine masonry and to commend his victory, Ezana ordered a large throne statue erected near the Daro.

After resting briefly, the army continued north. They were met with little resistance from the natives; in fact, they seemed a welcome change to the old overlords. Ezana arrived at the gates of Meroe, capital of Kush the following month. His army surrounded the city and his ultimatum was sent to the King; surrender or die. This King of Meroe was old and feeble, and you knew perfectly well that he could not hold out against the Axumites and, more importantly, his people would revolt if he tried. To his shame and his people’s joy, he surrendered to Ezana, and with him all of Meroe became Axum’s territory.

Following his brother, Se’azana’s advice, Ezana executed the King and appointed a respected yet pliant elder as “King” of the city, on the condition that the city was to remain a part of Axum and would act as such. The warning proved unnecessary; the people of Meroe had heard of Axum’s immense wealth and were looking to profit in it. With everything under control, Ezana and his army trudged north; into Noba.

The Noba were a tribe who had once been ruled by the Kushites, but had rebelled many years ago. They were determined not to let themselves be ruled by a foreign power, but endless warring with both Meroe and the Romans in Egypt had depleted their supply of able-bodied men. This crucial fact allowed Ezana to win a quick victory. He stationed Eon’s regiment here to put down any rebellions that might arise and to handle the day-to-day affairs of the region, and then led his army back to Axum, laden with the spoils of war.

Ezana dismissed the Begans, whose loyalty had been firmly solidified by all of the loot they had won after the campaign and marched triumphantly into Axum in the year of 352 AD. His return was marred by the news that his mother Sofya had died. It took him a year to recover from the loss, after which he arranged his marriage with a Princess of Meroe, so as to secure Axum’s rule over the new land. They had two sons, Israel, who died the week after he was born, and Mehadeyis.
In 356, when Ezana was 36 years of age, he led an expeditionary force consisting of his sole personal regiment across the Red Sea to reinforce the Axumite garrison in Tihama and try to open talks with the Himyarites, whom Axum had been at war with on and off for over a century. Upon landing, they were encircled by a horde of Himyarites and attacked. The regiment was able to make a successful fighting retreat back to the ship, but Ezana died with an arrow in his throat.


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