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Cattle Tax “Queima” in Northern Ethiopia during the Oromo Migration Period


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Other Title
  • オロモ進出期に於けるエチオピア北部の牛税ケイマ
  • オロモ シンシュツキ ニ オケル エチオピア ホクブ ノ ギュウゼイ ケイマ
  • Cattle Tax ^|^ldquo;Queima^|^rdquo; in Northern Ethiopia during the Oromo Migration Period

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During the first half of the seventeenth century, the Amhara, a major agrarian people of the Christian kingdom of northern Ethiopia, fought against the pastoral Oromo who had begun to enter the kingdom's territory since the first half of the sixteenth century. The Jesuits reported that the Emperor Susneyos (r. 1607-1632) levied cattle tax called “Queima”. Although scholars have enumerated it as an item of taxation of the kingdom, studies of this tax have been strangely neglected by them. The purpose of this paper is to clarify the reasons of introduction and abolition of this tax, to estimate its revenues, and to examine its role in the northern Ethiopian history, based on the Jesuits documents and Ge'ez (Classical Ethiopic) documents. The conclusion proposed is as follows: (1) The Emperor Gälawdewos (r. 1540-1559) introduced “Queima” in the first half of the 1550s. It is probable that he introduced this new tax to rehabilitate his kingdom after the war against the Muslims. (2) The Emperor Yohännes I (r. 1667-1682) abolished “Queima” in 1667. His decision can be explained by the following reasons. First, the burden of this tax was heavy. Secondly, the Emperor needed to conciliate people's dissatisfaction with the oppression of his predecessor the Emperor Fasilädäs (r. 1632-1667). Thirdly, he could obtain many herds of cattle during the military expeditions against the Agaw around the Lake Tana. (3) From the second half of the sixteenth century to the first half of the seventeenth century, the war between the Amhara and the Oromo was at its worst. As a principal item of taxation, “Queima” supported financially this war and the rule of the kingdom. It seems reasonable to conclude that this cattle tax contributed to the survival of the Christian kingdom of northern Ethiopia under the pressure of the Oromo migration.


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