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State and Land in Ethiopian History focuses on the relationship between the State and land tenure problems to the exclusion of many other significant aspects of customary land tenure in Ethiopia. The student of Ethiopian affairs cannot fail to be impressed by the major role played by the monarchy in the system of land holdings over the long span of the country s recorded history. It is important to remember, however, that the powers of the Emperors were not static but fluctuated greatly in the last half millennium or so for which we possess relatively good historical records, which had a significant effect on land tenure. This book traces the changing fortunes of the monarchy as well as examines the theoretical basis of its authority as formulated in contemporary writings. It also examines the manner in which the State affected the system of land tenure from Aksumite times to the eve of the Italian invasion of 1935. A chronological approach has been attempted wherever possible to explain the significant changes as well as the continuity which has characterized the history of Ethiopian land tenure. This book also covers a number of distinct, though related matters: the allocation of land by the sovereigns to the nobility; provincial governors and other officers of State; land grants to churches and monasteries; the operation of royal farms; the establishment of State capitals and their effect on systems of land tenure; land ownership by foreigners and minority groups; taxation, tribute, labor service and other obligations based on or related to the holding of land, as well as landlord tenant relations generally. Consideration is also paid to land problems related to the developments of the Menilek-Haile Sellassie period, including of roads and the railways, and in the case of Eritrea, the impact of foreign rule, as well as to the legislation of the period which witnessed the foundations of a modern State.
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Professor Richard Pankhurst is Sylvia Pankhurst's only child and was an adult throughout much of the period covered by this book. Using largely unpublished materials, he traces his mother's opposition to Italian Fascism and advocacy of Ethiopian independence. The author, who bore witness to his mother's political activities on behalf of Ethiopia, and other victims of Fascism, is a historian of the country where he resides with his wife Rita. He has written extensively on many aspects of Ethiopian history, and is the author of a biography of his mother's earlier life, Sylvia Pankhurst: Artist.
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