Battle of Baçente

Battle of Baçente
Part of the Abyssinian–Adal War and Ottoman–Portuguese conflicts (1538–57)
DateFebruary 2, 1542
LocationAmba Senayt, Tigray Province, Ethiopia[1]
Result Portuguese victory
Portuguese Empire Adal Sultanate
Commanders and leaders
Cristóvão da Gama Ahmad ibn Ibrihim al-Ghazi
400 Portuguese musketeers 1500 archers and "buckler men"
Casualties and losses
8 killed, 40 wounded

The Battle of Baçente was fought on February 2, 1542 when a Portuguese army under Cristóvão da Gama took a hillfort held by Adalite forces in northern Ethiopia. The Portuguese suffered minimal casualties, while the defenders were reportedly all killed.

Queen Sabla Wengel advised against this attack, arguing that Gama should wait until her son the Emperor Gelawdewos could march north from Shewa and join the Portuguese. However, Gama was concerned that if he marched around this Muslim-held strongpoint, the local peasantry would be disappointed and stop providing supplies for his troops.[2]

After a probing attack to learn the defenders defences, which Queen Sabla Wengel initially mistook for a defeat, Gama ordered an attack from three side directions on the following day. The defenders were annihilated, with neglegible losses to the Portuguese. Nine horses and a number of mules were captured, which afterwards proved useful. A mosque, which had originally been a church before the hillfort was occupied by Imam Ahmad ibn Ibrahim al-Ghazi's men, was reconsecrated as a church and dedicated to "Our Lady of Victory", and mass was celebrated there the next day. The expeditionary force spent the rest of February there, recovering from the battle.[3]

The Portuguese "Baçente" has been identified as referring to Amba Senayt in Haramat by R.S. Whiteway.[1]


Wikisource has original text related to this article:
  1. 1 2 R.S. Whiteway, editor and translator, The Portuguese Expedition to Abyssinia in 1441-1543, 1902. (Nendeln, Liechtenstein: Kraus Reprint, 1967), p. lii f.
  2. Whiteway, p. 32.
  3. Whiteway, pp. 33-7.

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