Fāsīladas (Basilides) 'Ālam Sagad (Seltān Sagad II)
Pages 13

In his second year came the epidemic Katana called Fangel which makes those attacked drop dead sud­ denly ; in his 21st year came the epidemic called Kabab hfl'fls, a disease caused by insufficiency of food. In his 22nd year he presided over a synod held at Aringo, and in his 35th year he burnt the books of the Franks, i.e. the Jesuit Fathers. All these facts were, no doubt, interesting enough to the native annalist, and they also have a certain importance for the modern historian, but it is clear that many stirring events happened in Abyssinia between 1632 and 1665, and that all mention of them has been suppressed by the Abyssinian annalist. At this time of day it is almost impossible for anyone to write a true account of the reign of Fasiladas, for the simple reason that neither the Abyssinian nor the Portuguese documents relating to it are trustworthy. Bruce wrote in his Travels (vol. III. p. 12) thus : “ The memoirs of these [Portuguese] mission­ aries, even when they were in the country, are to be read with great caution : being full of misrepresentations of the manners and characters of men, magnifying some actions, slighting others, and attributing to their favourites services that were really performed by their adversaries ; and, from the coming of Alphonso Mendes, till they were banished to Masuah, great part of their account is untrue, and the rest very suspicious. After their retiring to India, which is the time we are now speaking of, the whole that they have published is one continued tissue of falsehood and calumny, either hear-say stories communicated to them, as they say, by the remnants of zealots still alive in Abyssinia, or falsifications of their own, invented for particular purposes.” When we remember that Bruce only heard the views which his informants had inherited from their forebears, who had lived more than a century earlier and had not means of verifying them correctly, it is impossible to accept his statement quoted above. The available facts suggest to me that Fasiladas was a typical example of the bold, warlike, and capable kings of Abyssinia, possessing many fine qualities as well as certain

defects; but he was certainly not the craven, bloodthirsty and cruel monster that some of the Portuguese writers have made him out to be. On the other hand the Portuguese Fathers were not the shifty and cunning liars that some would have us believe them to have been. They were unwise in many of their actions, they made mistakes, they were impetuous, tactless, and injudicious often, and were led astray by their informants, but they were all the same men of integrity who sacrificed their lives and died horrible deaths for their religion and their ideals.