Ethiopian Empire

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Ethiopian Empire
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{{short description|1270–1974 empire in East Africa}}{{Use dmy dates|date=June 2012}}

{{nobold{{transl>am|Mängəstä Ityop'p'ya}})}}|conventional_long_name = Ethiopian Empire|common_name = Ethiopia/Abyssinia[Ethiopia (Ge'ez: ኢትዮጵያ)]|era = Middle Ages to Cold WarAbsolute monarchyNATHANIEL T. KENNEY JOURNAL=NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC (MAGAZINE) >VOLUME=127 PAGE=555, |year_start = |year_end = 1974{{small1936–1941: Government-in-exile}}}}}}|event_start = Italian Eritrea|date_start = 1890Derg|date_end = First Italo-Ethiopian War>Italo-Ethiopian War|date_event2 = 1895–1896|event3 = Treaty of Addis Ababa|date_event3 = 23 October 18961931 Constitution of Ethiopia>Constitution adopted|date_event4 = 16 July 1931Second Italo-Ethiopian War>Italian invasion of Ethiopia|date_event5 = 3 October 1935 – May 1936|event6 = Sovereignty restored|date_event6 = 5 May 1941|event7 = Admitted to the United Nations|date_event7 = 13 November 1945|event_pre = Empire established|date_pre = 1270Ethiopian Revolution>Monarchy abolishedMILWAUKEE SENTINEL >DATE=22 MARCH 1975 WORK=THE DAY PAGE=7, HENC VAN MAARSEVEEN >AUTHOR2=GER VAN DER TANG PUBLISHER=BRILL PUBLISHERS >YEAR=1978 ENCYCLOPEDIA=THE WORLD FACTBOOK PUBLISHER=CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY, WEB,weblink, Ethiopia, |p1 = Zagwe dynasty|flag_p1 = |s1 = Derg|flag_s1 = Flag of Ethiopia (1975–1987).svg|image_flag = Flag of Ethiopia (1897-1936; 1941-1974).svg|image_coat = Imperial Coat of Arms of Ethiopia (Haile Selassie).svgEmblem of Ethiopia>Coat of arms|flag = Flag of Ethiopia|flag_type = Flag|image_map = Ethiopian Empire in 1952.svg|map_caption = The Ethiopian Empire boundaries in 1952|image_map2 = Menelik II conquests map on world sphere.svg|map_caption2 = The location of the Ethiopian Empire during the reign of Yohannes IV (dark orange) compared with modern day Ethiopia (orange)Unspecified {{smallGondar {{small>(1635–1855)}}Amba Mariam {{small>(1855–1868)}}Mekelle {{smallAddis Ababa {{small>(1886–1974)}}}}"Ethiopia Stretches Her Hands unto God" (Psalm 68:31 paraphrased)}}TITLE=ETHIOPIA (1930-1975)ACCESSDATE=14 SEPTEMBER 2016, {{small|"Ethiopia, Be happy"}}{{center|(File:Ityopp'ya Hoy dess yibelish.ogg)}}|common_languages = Ge'ezAmharic{hide}Collapsible list
| title = Widely spoken
| Afar||Gurage||Hadiyya||Kafa||Sidamo||Somali||Tigrinya||Oromo||Wolaytta{edih}|religion = Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church|currency = {{Plainlist}}
Yekuno Amlak {{smallJOURNAL = AFRICA: RIVISTA TRIMESTRALE DI STUDI E DOCUMENTAZIONE DELL'ISTITUTO ITALIANO PER L'AFRICA E L'ORIENTEISSUE = 1LAST1 = NEGASHYEAR = 2006, Haile Selassie {{small>(last)}}|year_leader1 = 1270|year_leader2 = 1930–1974Emperor of Ethiopia>EmperorHabte Giyorgis {{small>(first)}}Mikael Imru {{small>(last)}}|year_deputy1 = 1909–1927|year_deputy2 = 1974Prime Minister of Ethiopia>Prime Minister|legislature = ParliamentConstitution of Ethiopia, 4 November 1955, Article 76 (source: Constitutions of Nations: Volume I, Africa by Amos Jenkins Peaslee)|house1 = Senate|house2 = Chamber of Deputies|stat_year1 = 1950|stat_area1 = 1221900|stat_pop1 = 19,575,000|stat_year2 = 1974|stat_area2 = 1221900|stat_pop2 = 35,074,000Eritrea}}{{flag|Ethiopia}}|demonym = Endonym: ኢትዮጵያዊ (Ethiopian);• • •Exonym: Abyssinian (in non-native sources, derived from the Arabic name for the general region "Al-Habash" and the most widely prominent pan-ethnic group the Habesha) |area_km2 = |area_rank = |GDP_PPP = |GDP_PPP_year = |HDI = patron_saint=St. George (Patronages of Saint George)Markessini, Joan (2012). Around the World of Orthodox Christianity - Five Hundred Million Strong: The Unifying Aesthetic Beauty. Dorrance Publishing. ISBN 9781434914866. Morgan, Giles (2017). St George: The patron saint of England. Oldcastle Books. ISBN 978-1843449676.}}The Ethiopian Empire (, , {{transl|am|Mängəstä Ityop'p'ya}}), also known by the exonym "Abyssinia" (derived from the Arabic al-Habash), or just simply Ethiopia ({{IPAc-en|ˌ|iː|θ|i|ˈ|oʊ|p|i|ə}}; , , , {{audio|Ityopya.ogg|listen}}, Tigrinya: ኢትዮጵያ, Oromo: Itoophiyaa, Somali: Itoobiya, Afar: Itiyoophiyaa),BOOK, E. A. Wallis Budge, A History of Ethiopia: Volume I: Nubia and Abyssinia,weblink 1 August 2014, Routledge, 7, 9781317649151, was a monarchy that spanned a geographical area in the current states of Ethiopia and Eritrea. It began with the establishment of the Solomonic dynasty by Yekuno Amlak from approximately 1270 and lasted until 1974, when Emperor Haile Selassie was overthrown in a coup d'état by the Communist Derg. It was throughout much of its existence the most powerful state in the African Horn and managed to preserve and develop its ancient form of Christianity.The territory of present-day Eritrea, after the end of the Kingdom of Aksum, was the domain of the Bahr Negus ("King of The Sea") of which the territory was the Medri Bahri (from 1433 to 1896) which throughout history was also a province of the Ethiopian empire, followed by coastal occupation of the city Massawa of today's Eritrea from Habesh Eyalet and then by British occupation of Egypt in 1882. In 1890 was occupied by Italy and became Italian Eritrea. Ethiopia and Liberia were the only two African nations to remain independent during the Scramble for Africa by the European imperial powers in the late 19th{{nbsp}}century. Ethiopia remained independent after defeating Italians during the First Italo-Ethiopian War. Later, after the Second Italo-Ethiopian War, the Italian Empire occupied Ethiopia briefly for five years and established the Italian East Africa colony in the region. The Italians were later driven out with the help of the British army. The country was one of the founding members of the United Nations in 1945.By 1974, Ethiopia was one of only three countries in the world to have the title of Emperor for its head of state, together with Japan and Iran under the Pahlavi dynasty. It was the second-to-last country in Africa to use the title of Emperor; the only one later was the Central African Empire, which was implemented between 1976 and 1979 by Emperor Bokassa I.


D'mt and Kingdom of Aksum

File:Axumite Jar Spout (2822628227).jpg|thumb|left|A Kingdom of AksumKingdom of AksumEthiopia's human occupation began early, as evidenced by the findings{{Which|date=July 2018}}. It is believed that the ancient Egyptians claimed that Punt, known as gold country, was in Ethiopia in 980{{nbsp}}BC. According to the Kebra Nagast, Menelik I founded the Ethiopian empire in the 1st{{nbsp}}century BC, around when the Axumite Empire was established. In the 4th{{nbsp}}century, under King Ezana of Axum, the kingdom adopted Christianity (Ethiopian Orthodox Church) as the state religion. It was thus one of the first Christian states.{{Harvp|Adekumobi|2007|p=10}}After the conquest of Aksum by Queen Gudit or Yodit, a period began which some scholars refer to as the Ethiopian Dark Ages. According to Ethiopian tradition, she ruled over the remains of the Aksumite Empire for 40 years before transmitting the crown to her descendants. In 1063{{nbsp}}AD the Sultanate of Showa describes the passing of their overlord Badit daughter of Maya.BOOK, Oliver, Roland, The Cambridge History of Africa, Volume 3, Cambridge University Press, 106,weblink 9780521209816, 1975,

Makhzumi and Zagwe dynasty

The earliest Muslim state in Ethiopia, the Makhzumi dynasty with its capital in Wahal, Hararghe region succeeds Queen Badit.BOOK, Braukhaper, Ulrich, Islamic History and Culture in Southern Ethiopia: Collected Essays, 2002, LIT Verlag Münster, 21,weblink 12 March 2017, 9783825856717, The Zagwe kingdom another dynasty with its capital at Adafa, emerged not far from modern day Lalibela in the Lasta mountains.{{Harvp|Pankhurst|2001|p=45}} The Zagwe continued the Orthodox Christianity of Aksum and constructed many rock-hewn churches such as the Church of Saint George in Lalibela. The dynasty would last until its overthrow by a new regime claiming descent from the old Aksumite kings.

Solomonic dynasty

(File:Yekuno Amlak.png|thumb|left|Contemporary portrait of Yekuno Amlak, founder of the Ethiopian empire)In 1270, the Zagwe dynasty was overthrown by a king claiming lineage from the Aksumite kings and, hence, from Solomon. The eponymously named Solomonic dynasty was founded and ruled by the Abyssinians, from whom Abyssinia gets its name. The Abyssinians reigned with only a few interruptions from 1270 until the late 20th{{nbsp}}century. This dynasty governed large parts of Ethiopia through much of its modern history. During this time, the empire conquered and annexed various kingdoms into its realm. The dynasty also successfully fought off Italian, Ottoman and Egyptian forces and made fruitful contacts with some European powers.

Adal Sultanate invasion

{{further|Abyssinian–Adal war}}In 1529, the Adal Sultanate's forces led by Ahmad ibn Ibrahim al-Ghazi invaded the Ethiopian Empire in what is known as the Abyssinian–Adal war. The Adal occupation lasted fourteen years. During the conflict, the Adal Sultanate employed cannons provided by the Ottoman Empire. In the aftermath of the war, Adal annexed Ethiopia, uniting it with territories in what is now Somalia. In 1543, with the help of the Portuguese Empire, the Solomonic dynasty was restored.File:YagbeaSionBattlingAdaSultan.JPG|thumb|Abyssinian King Yagbea-Sion and his forces (left) battling the Sultan of Adal and his troops (Le Livre des Merveilles, 15th century)]]

Early modern period

{{further|Oromo migrations}}In 1543, Emperor Gelawdewos beat Ahmad ibn Ibrahim al-Ghazi armies and Ahmad himself was killed at the Battle of Wayna Daga, close to Wegera. This victory allowed the Empire to reconquer progressively the Ethiopian Highlands.Richard Pankhurst, The Ethiopian Borderlands (Trenton: Red Sea Press, 1997), pp. 241f. In 1559 Gelawdewos was killed attempting to invade Adal Sultanate, and his severed head was paraded in Adal's capital Harar.JOURNAL, Akyeampong, Emmanuel, Dictionary of African Biography, Oup USA, 1-6, 451,weblink 9780195382075, 2 February 2012, File:Cristofano dell’Altissimo, Portrait of Lebnä-Dengel. c. 1552-1568.jpg|thumb|left|Dawit II of Ethiopia (Lebna Dengel), Emperor of Ethiopia (nəgusä Nagast) and member of the Solomonic dynastySolomonic dynastyThe Ottoman Empire, distated by the defeat of its ally Gragn, made another attempt at conquering Ethiopia, from 1557, establishing Habesh Eyalet, the province of Abyssinia, by conquering Massawa, the Empire’s main port and seizing Suakin from the allied Funj Sultanate in what is now Sudan. In 1573 Harar attempted to invade Ethiopia again however Sarsa Dengel successfully defended the Ethiopian frontier.BOOK, Pankhurst, Richard, The Ethiopian Borderlands: Essays in Regional History from Ancient Times to the End of the 18th Century, 1997, The Red Sea Press, 375,weblink 9780932415196, The Ottomans were checked by Emperor Sarsa Dengel victory and sacking of Arqiqo in 1589, thus containing them on a narrow coast line strip.The Afar Sultanate maintained the remaining Ethiopian port on the Red Sea, at Baylul.Richard Pankhurst, The Ethiopian Borderlands: Essays in Regional History from Ancient Times to The End of the 18th Century Asmara: Red Sea Press, Inc., 1997. p. 390Oromo migrations through the same period, occurred with the movement of a large pastoral population from the southeastern provinces of the Empire. A contemporary account was recorded by the monk Abba Bahrey, from the Gamo region. Subsequently, the empire organization changed progressively, with faraway provinces taking more independence. A remote province such as Bale is last recorded paying tribute to the imperial throne during Yaqob reign (1590-1607).Braukämper, Islamic History and Culture in Southern Ethiopia: Collected Essays (Hamburg: Lit Verlag, 2002), p. 82(File:Fasilides Palace 02.jpg|thumb|Fasilides Palace)By 1607, Oromos were also major players in the imperial politics, when Susenyos I, raised by a clan through gudifacha (or adoption), took power. He was helped by fellow Luba age-group generals Mecha, Yilma and Densa, who were rewarded by Rist feudal lands, in the present-day Gojjam districts of the same name.Solomon GETAHUN, A History of Ethiopia's Newest Immigrants to the United States: Orphans,weblink Susenyos reign was also marked by his short-lived conversion to Catholicism, which ignited a major civil war. His son Fasilides I reverted the move.The reign of Iyasu I the Great (1682-1706) was a major period of consolidation. It also saw the dispatching of embassies to Louis XIV's France and to Dutch India.During the reign of Iyasu II (1730-1755), the Empire was strong enough to undertake a war on the Sennar Sultanate, where the emperor leading its army to Sennar itself, was afterwards forced to reatreat upon defeat, along the Setit river. Iyasu II also confered the dignity of Kantibai of the Habab (northern Eritrea) after homage by a new dynasty.Anthony d'AVRAY, Lords of the Red Sea: The History of a Red Sea Society from the Sixteenth to Ninetheenth century, Harrasowitz Verlag, p.50weblink The Wallo and Yejju clans rise to power culminated in 1755, when Emperor Iyoas I ascended to the imperial throne in Gondar. They would be one of the major factions contending for imperial power during the ensuing Zemene Mesafint, starting from 1769, when Mikael Sehul, Ras of Tigray killed Iyoas I and replaced him with Yohannes II.The Early Modern period was one of intense cultural and artistic creation. Notable philosophers from that area are Zera Yacob and Walda Heywat. The city of Gondar became the capital in 1636, with several fortified castles built in the town and in its surrounding areas.

Princes' Era

File:Téwodros II.jpg|thumb|Emperor Tewodros II's rise to the throne marked the end of the Zemene MesafintZemene MesafintFrom 1769 to 1855, the Ethiopian empire passed through a period known as the "Princes Era" (in Amharic Zemene Mesafint). This was a period of Ethiopian history with numerous conflicts between the various ras (equivalent to the English dukes) and the emperor, who had only limited power and only dominated the area around the contemporary capital of Gondar. Both the development of society and culture stagnated in this period. Religious conflict, both within the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and between them and the Muslims were often used as a pretext for mutual strife. The Princes Era ended with the reign of the Emperor Tewodros II.

Reign of Emperor Tewodros II and scramble for Africa

In 1868, following the imprisonment of several missionaries and representatives of the British government, the British engaged in the punitive Expedition to Abyssinia. This campaign was a success for Britain and the Ethiopian emperor committed suicide.From 1874 to 1876, the Empire, under Yohannes IV, won the Ethiopian-Egyptian War, decisively beating the invading forces at the Battle of Gundet, in Hamasien province.The 1880s were marked by the Scramble for Africa. Italy, seeking a colonial presence in Africa, invaded Ethiopia and following a successful conquest of some coastal regions, forced the Treaty of Wuchale upon Shewa (an autonomous kingdom within the Ethiopian Empire), creating the colony of Eritrea.File:Menelik - Adoua-2 (cropped).jpg|thumb|upright=1.2|left|Menelik II observes the battle of Adwa against the Italian invasion army in 1896. It was the only time an African army decisively defeated a European colonial army and ensured Ethiopia's independence during the scramble for Africa. Le Petit Journal, 1898.]]Due to significant differences between the Italian and Amharic translations of the Treaty of Wuchale, Italy believed they had subsumed Ethiopia as a client state. Ethiopia repudiated the treaty in 1893. Insulted, Italy declared war on Ethiopia in 1895. The First Italo-Ethiopian War resulted in the 1896 Battle of Adwa, in which Italy was decisively defeated. As a result, the Treaty of Addis Ababa was signed in October, which strictly delineated the borders of Eritrea and forced Italy to recognize the independence of Ethiopia.Beginning in the 1880s, under the reign of the Emperor Menelik II, the empire's forces set off from the central province of Shoa to incorporate through conquest inhabited lands to the west, east and south of its realm.JOURNAL, John Young, Regionalism and Democracy in Ethiopia, Third World Quarterly, 19, 2, 1998, 192, 3993156, 10.1080/01436599814415, The territories that were annexed included those of the western Oromo (non Shoan Oromo), Sidama, Gurage, Wolayta,International Crisis Group, "Ethnic Federalism and its Discontents". Issue 153 of ICG Africa report (4 September 2009) p. 2. and Dizi.JOURNAL, Haberland, Eike, An Amharic Manuscript on the Mythical History of the Adi kyaz (Dizi, South-West Ethiopia), Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, 1983, 46, 2, 240,weblink 18 December 2017, 10.1017/S0041977X00078836, Among the imperial troops was Ras Gobena's Shewan Oromo militia. Many of the lands that they annexed had never been under the empire's rule, with the newly incorporated territories resulting in the modern borders of Ethiopia.JOURNAL, Great Britain and Ethiopia 1897–1910: Competition for Empire, Edward C. Keefer, International Journal of African Studies, 6, 3, 1973, 470, 216612, 10.2307/216612, Delegations from the United Kingdom and France{{snd}}European powers whose colonial possessions lay next to Ethiopia{{snd}}soon arrived in the Ethiopian capital to negotiate their own treaties with this newly-proven power.

Italian invasion and World War II

{{further|Second Italo-Ethiopian War|East African Campaign (World War II)}}(File:ETH-BIB-Kaiserpalast, "der grosse Gibi" aus der Luft-Abessinienflug 1934-LBS MH02-22-0222.tif|thumb|The Emperor's palace, 1934)In 1935 Italian soldiers, commanded by Marshal Emilio De Bono, invaded Ethiopia in what is known as the Second Italo-Ethiopian War. The war lasted seven months before an Italian victory was declared. The Ethiopian Empire was incorporated into the Italian colony of Italian East Africa. The invasion was condemned by the League of Nations, though not much was done to end the hostility.During the conflict, Italy used sulfur mustard in chemical warfare, ignoring the Geneva Protocol that it had signed seven years earlier. The Italian military dropped mustard gas in bombs, sprayed it from airplanes and spread it in powdered form on the ground. 150,000 chemical casualties were reported, mostly from mustard gas. In the aftermath of the war Italy annexed Ethiopia, uniting it with Italy's other colonies in eastern Africa to form the new colony of Italian East Africa, and Victor Emmanuel III of Italy adopted the title "Emperor of Abyssinia".On 10 June 1940, Italy declared war on the United Kingdom and France, as France was in the process of being conquered by Germany at the time and Benito Mussolini wished to expand Italy's colonial holdings. The Italian conquest of British Somaliland in August 1940 was successful, but the war turned against Italy afterward. Haile Selassie returned to Ethiopia from England to help rally the resistance. The British began their own invasion in January 1941 with the help of Ethiopian freedom fighters, and the last organized Italian resistance in Italian East Africa surrendered in November 1941, ending Italian rule.

Fall of monarchy

File:Haile Selassie (1969).jpg|thumb|Haile SelassieHaile SelassieIn 1974 a pro-Soviet Marxist–Leninist military junta, the "Derg", led by Mengistu Haile Mariam, deposed Haile Selassie and established a one-party communist state. Haile Selassie was imprisoned and died in unclear circumstances, a rumor being that he was suffocated with an ether-soaked pillow.BOOK,weblink Necessary Journeys, Jack, Ian, Granta, 2001, 978-1-929001-03-3, 124, harv, Ian Jack,


According to Bahrey,Bahrey. (1954). History of the Galla. In C.F. Beckingham and G.B.W. Huntingford there were ten social groups in the feudal Ethiopia of his time, i.e. at the end of the 16th century. These social groups consisted of the monks; the debtera; lay officials (including judges); men at arms giving personal protection to the wives of dignitaries and to princesses; the shimaglle, who were the lords and hereditary landowners; their farm labourers or serfs; traders; artisans; wandering singers; and the soldiers, who were called chewa. According to modern thinking, some of these categories are not true classes. But at least the shimaglle, the serfs, the chewa, the artisans and the traders constitute definite classes. Power was vested in the Emperor and those aristocrats he appointed to execute his power, and the power enforcing instrument consisted of a class of soldiers, the chewa.Transitional government of Ethiopia, National Conservation Strategy, 1994,weblink


From the reign of Amde Tseyon, Chewa regiments, or legions, formed the backbone of the Empire military forces. The Ge’ez term for these regiments is ṣewa (ጼዋ) while the Amharic term is č̣äwa (ጨዋ).The normal size of a regiment was several thousand men.Mordechai ABIR, Ethiopia and the Red Sea, p.51weblink Each regiment was allocated a fief (Gult), to ensure its upkeep ensured by the land revenue.Mordechai ABIR, Ethiopia and the Red Sea, p.49weblink 1445, following the Battle of Gomit, the chronicles record that Emperor Zara Yacoq started garrisoning the provinces with Chewa regiments.{| class="wikitable"! Name of regimentDeresse AYENACHEW, Evolution and Organisation of the Ç̌äwa Military Regiments in Medieval Ethiopia, Annales d'Ethiopie, p.93,weblink Region! Translation| Bäṣär waǧätSerae, Dawaro, Menz, Gamo-Gofa>Gamo| Enemy of the waǧät| Ǧan amoraDobe’a, Tselemt, Efratana_Gidim>Gedem | Eagle of the majesty| č̣äwa BaleBale Province, Ethiopia>Bale| | č̣äwa MayaMedri_Bahri>Bahir Negash| | Bäṣur amoraGamo-Gofa>Gamo| Spear of the eagle| Bäṣär šotäl | Damot| Spear of the foeMajor divisions of the military were :
  • Regiments at the court, under high court officials
  • Regiments in the provinces, under regional Rases or other officials
  • Regiments in border regions, or more autonomous provinces, such as Hadiya, Bahir Negash, Bale, under azmač who were military officials appointed by the king.Deresse AYENACHEW, Evolution and Organisation of the Ç̌äwa Military Regiments in Medieval Ethiopia, Annales d'Ethiopie, p.88,weblink
One of the Chewa regiments, known as the Abe Lahm in Geez, or the Weregenu, in Oromo, lasted, and participated to the Battle of Adwa, only to be phased out in the 1920s.Tsehai Berhane-Selassie, Ethiopian Warriorhood, Boydell & Brewer, p.104).The modern army was created under Ras Tafari Makonnen, in 1917, with the formation of the Kebur Zabagna, the imperial guard.

See also

{{History_of_Ethiopia}}{{colbegin}} {{colend}}




  • BOOK, Adejumobi, Saheed A.,weblink The History of Ethiopia, Greenwood Publishing Group, Westport, harv, 2007, 978-0-313-32273-0,
  • BOOK, Pankhurst, Richard,weblink The Ethiopians: A History, Blackwell Publishing, Oxford, 2001, 299 Pages, harv, 978-0-631-22493-8,
  • BOOK, Shillington, Kevin, Encyclopedia of African History, Vol. 1, Routledge, London, 2004, 1912 Pages, 978-1-57958-245-6,

Further reading

  • BOOK, Salvadore, Matteo, The African Prester John and the Birth of Ethiopian-European Relations, 1402-1555, 2016, Routledge, 1472418913, harv,

External links

  • {hide}wikisource inline |list=
    • EB1911, Abyssinia, 1, x, x,
    • EB1911, Ethiopia, 9, x, x,
    • COLLIER'S, Abyssinia, x, x,
{edih}{{History of Eritrea}}{{Empires}}{{Medieval Horn of Africa}}{{Former Monarchies}}

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