Munhumutapa Empire before and after Changamire Dombo conquests

The Rozvi Empire, also known as the Rozvi State, was a kingdom established by Changamire Dombo and that existed from about 1684 to 1834. It was the greatest state in Zimbabwe from the late seventeenth to the early nineteenth centuries.

Changamire Dombo was a relative of the Munhumutapa and was one of the local Shona leaders. He gained the title Changamire (lord) and developed an effective army known as the the Rozvi, that, by the 1670s, became a major force in the northeast of the Zimbabwean plateau. The Rozvi empire emerged from the Munhumutapa empire as Dombo defeated the Portuguese, driving them out from their key marketplaces in the Zambezi Valley.

See History of Zimbabwe Timeline.
See National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe.


The area of the Rozvi Empire covered parts of present day Zimbabwe, Botswana and South Africa. The capital of the empire was at Butua in the Southwest.

Rozvi Empire Economy

The economic power of the Rozvi Empire was based on cattle. The mining of minerals however, especially gold mining, continued. The gold was traded for luxury imports.


The Rozvi empire was weakened by a series of droughts in the 1970s which were followed by local chiefs and spirit mediums seizing power. Eventually, due to the Mfecane wars that forced some Nguni speaking groups from Shaka's Zulu kingdom, the Rozvi empired faced attacks from these groups.

The empire was defeated by the Ndwandwe armies of Nxaba and Zwangendaba. In the early 1830s the last Rozwi ruler was killed in his capital of Khami, resulting in the collapse of the empire.

Rulers of the Rozvi Empire

  • Changamire Dombo
  • Mambo Chirisamhuru
  • Mambo Mutinhima
  • Changamire Tohwechipi Chibamubamu
  • Mambo Chingombe
  • Tumbare
  • Chingombe Mudavanhu
  • Mutanda Ngabate (female ruler)
  • Gumboremvura
  • Rupengo
  • Chinomona