Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




England, France, and Belgium began to search in the mid-nineteenth century for new commercial opportunities along the Red Sea. At the same time, Ethiopia was emerging from half a century of civil war to move toward the establishment of a unified state. Impelled by curiosity, expanding domestic needs, and the growing importance of the Red Sea trade route, Europeans looked sbuthward to establish commercial, cultural, and diplomatic connections with the Christian society that traditionally had dominated the Horn of Africa. At the time that more European missionaries, traders, adventurers, and diplomats reached her boundaries, Ethiopia was being reunited under strong leadership and looking for Christian allies against expanding Egyptian power. Between the 1840's and 1860's, both Europeans and Ethiopians were pressured by the push for trade through a prospective Suez Canal and the explosive fragmentation of the Ottoman empire. There was every reason for Europeans and Ethiopians to come to a mutually beneficial modus vivendi. Nevertheless, by the end of the 1860's, the tenuous commercial and diplomatic ties established between Europe and Ethiopia* had snapped. The English expedition into Abyssinia was the apotheosis of the failure of a European nation to understand and to establish regular diplomatic and commercial relations with the most powerful and unified country in East Africa. The intent of this paper is to explore from both the European and Ethiopian points of view the factors that led to diplomatic failure.


A Thesis Presented to the Department of History and the Faculty of the Graduate College University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts University of Nebraska at Omaha. Copyright 1979, Barbara in den Bosch

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