NIGHTBRINGER | The Arthurian Encyclopedia


Kingdom of Axum
Ethiopia, Ethyope

The Kingdom of Aksum is historically associated with the region that is now Ethiopia. Aksum was an ancient kingdom and civilization located in the northern part of present-day Ethiopia, centered around the city of Aksum. It was a powerful and significant kingdom that existed from around the first century AD to roughtly the seventh century AD.

According to Heinrich von dem Türlin, the King of Ethopia, Noir, was one of Arthur’s knights, but in Malory, its king, who is also the king of Egypt, is allied to Lucius the Roman, and is killed at the battle of Soissons by Arthur’s knights.

The Holy Grail Quest
In some versions of the Arthurian legends, particularly those that focus on the Quest for the Holy Grail, there are references to a mysterious and distant land associated with the Grail. This land is sometimes identified as the Kingdom of Prester John, a legendary Christian kingdom often associated with exotic and fantastical elements.

The Kingdom of Prester John is sometimes linked to Ethiopia, and Aksum is a possible location for this mythical kingdom. The legends describe Prester John as a wise and powerful Christian ruler who possesses the Grail and rules over a rich and mysterious realm.

Joseph of Arimathea and the Grail
According to some medieval legends, Joseph of Arimathea, the figure known for providing his own tomb for the burial of Jesus, was said to have traveled to various lands, including Britain and Ethiopia, after the Crucifixion.

In some stories of the Grail stories, it is Joseph of Arimathea who brings the Grail to Britain, and his journey sometimes involve interactions with Ethiopians or people from the East.

Geographical Ambiguity
It’s worth noting that medieval European authors often had limited knowledge of the actual geography of distant lands, and they sometimes combined elements of real places with elements of mythology and imagination in their writings. The Kingdom of Aksum was known to some medieval Europeans through trade and religious connections, and it’s possible that references to Aksum or Ethiopia were incorporated into Arthurian tales in ways that blended historical reality with fictional elements.

Diu Crône | Heinrich von dem Türlin, c. 1230
Le Morte Darthur | Sir Thomas Malory, 1469-1470