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When We Ruled *2nd Edition - 50 Greatest Africans - Negus Negaste Ezana & Hannibal Barca
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The 2nd Edition
An Introduction by
Robin Walker

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africa5.jpg50 Greatest Africans - Negus Negaste Ezana & Hannibal Barca


23. Negus Negaste Ezana of Ethiopia (flourished 330 AD)
The first Christian Emperor in the world

Cathedral of St Mary of ZionEzana proclaimed Ethiopia to be a Christian state in the early fourth century AD, one of the oldest surviving Christian nations in the world. An inscription of the period recorded a prayer of the Negus Negaste (i.e. King of Kings): "May the Lord of Heaven make strong my kingdom! And as He has this day conquered for me my enemy may he conquer for me wheresoever I go … (I will rule) the people with righteousness and justice, and will not oppress them." The coins and inscriptions illustrate the reality of this. The early coins of Ezana's time show the crescent-and-disk emblem of the old deity Mahrem. The later coins issued just after 330 AD show the Christian cross with the motto: "May the country be satisfied" - the first coins in the world to carry this Christian design.

Another feature attributed to Ezana's reign was the introduction of a new written script - the vocalised Ethiopic. A refinement of the Proto-Ethiopic/Sabaean script of the Yeha period, vocalised Ethiopic influenced the Armenian and Georgian scripts of Eastern Europe. A Russian historian, Y. M. Khobishanov noted that: "Soon after its creation, the Ethiopic vocalised script began to influence the scripts of Armenia and Georgia. D. A. Olderogge suggested that Mesrop Mashtotz used the vocalised Ethiopic script when he invented the Armenian alphabet".

Several monuments date back to Ezana's time such as the Ta'akha Maryam, the Cathedral of Saint Mary of Zion, several other churches, and also convents. Scholars have attempted to reconstruct the Axumite castle complex of Ta'akha Maryam, now in ruins, using evidence provided by the obelisks and other monuments. The palace was a massive four-towered structure of stone and timber with windows of timber frames. It rose to a lofty height, being of four storeys. Axum also contained the Cathedral of Saint Mary of Zion, one of the oldest Christian cathedrals on Earth. Francisco Alvarez described this monument in around 1520 AD as follows: "In this town, we found a noble church; it is very large, and has five naves of a good width and of great length, vaulted above, and all the vaults are covered up, and the ceiling and sides are all painted; it also has a choir after our fashion. This church has a very large circuit, paved with flagstones like gravestones, and it has also a large enclosure, and is surrounded by another large enclosure like the wall of a large town or city."
All of this information is extracted from When We Ruled. To find out more about this book CLICK HERE




24. Hannibal Barca of Carthage (lived 247-183 BC)
Carthaginian general and father of modern military strategy

HannibalIn 219 BC Hannibal Barca, perhaps the best known personality in Carthaginian history, seized Saguntum in Spain. Polybius, the Roman historian, reported that this breached an existing treaty and was interpreted by the Romans as a declaration of war. A year later the second Punic War commenced. In May of that year, Hannibal raised an armed force of 90,000 men on foot and 12,000 men on horseback. By the summer, they reached Rhône. However, they were now a much-reduced force of 50,000 soldiers, 9,000 horsemen, and 37 elephants. Celts and Gauls flocked to his standard, however, and increased their numbers. They hated Roman imperial rule and saw the Carthaginian campaign as a way of getting back at the Romans. Hannibal's forces crossed the Alpine passes at the end of the year. Being in winter, it was a difficult and costly crossing. Many people and animals, unfamilliar with such cold, died. From the north they marched on Italy, however. Penetrating deep into Italian territory, they seized Cannæ in 216 BC, killing 70,000 Roman soldiers. Carthage, on the other hand, lost 5,500 soldiers and 200 horsemen in the same campaign. Next they marched on Rome but were unable to breach the walls. They camped there for years. Sir James Frazer, the author of The Golden Bough wrote, Hannibal "hung with his dusky army like a storm-cloud about to break, within sight of the sentinels of Rome". In 215 BC he sent two officers to Sicily to seduce the local rulers to break their loyalties to Rome.

The Romans, however, made inroads. By 210 BC they destroyed Carthage's new allies in Sicily and the following year, Scipio, the Roman general, commanded an invasion of Spain. A year later the Roman army seized the gold and silver mines of that land which was the basis of Carthage's wealth. In around 206 BC a King of Numidia, an African state to the west of Carthage, changed alliances as Carthage began to lose. Allying himself with Rome, he persuaded Scipio to bring the war to Africa. In 204 Scipio invaded Africa causing Hannibal and Mago, his brother, to leave Italy and return home. The Romans engaged them at the Battle of Zama in 202 BC. Assisted by 10,000 horsemen, supplied by Numidia, the Romans triumphed. Scipio had planned for and frustrated Hannibal's secret weapon - the use of elephants.

The terms of the peace treaty of 201 BC were harsh. Carthage was compelled to return lands that once belonged to Numidia. They were forbidden to make war on any people without the consent of Rome. They must hand over elephants and must not acquire others. They must abandon all ships except ten. Finally, they must pay a huge reparation of 10,000 talents over fifty years. Following the treaty, Scipio had the Carthaginian fleet burned.

Carthage made some sort of recovery during this period with Hannibal still at the helm. "The business of that city was again as flourishing as it had ever been," says Mr Reade, a British historian. "Again ships sailed to the coasts of Cornwall and Guinea; again the streets were lined with the workshops of industrious artisans". The archaeological finds support the notion that the city recovered. Carthage even proposed to pay off the reparation due to Rome in 10 years. The Romans, however, refused. Eventually, the Romans demanded that the Carthaginians hand over Hannibal. Instead, he fled into exile in 196 BC.
All of this information is extracted from When We Ruled. To find out more about this book CLICK HERE



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African Rulers
50 Greatest Africans

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