The Prince and the Plunder

A book on how Britain took one boy and piles of treasures from Ethiopia

A 17th century manuscript including the Fetha Nagast (MS 595)

Published / by Andrew Heavens / Leave a Comment

What: An Ethiopian manuscript, dated 1696, of the Fetha Nagast legal code and part of the Christian treatise Didascalia Apostolorum. Described as having “beautiful and even script” throughout

Where: Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, Unter den Linden 8, Potsdamer Straße 33, Westhafenstraße 1, Berlin

One of two manuscripts that Graf von Seckendorf bought after the Battle of Magdala and presented to King Wilhelm, according to A. Dimmmann’s 1878 book Verzeichnis der abessinischen Handschriften, Berlin, Königliche Akademie der Wissenschaften – G. Vogt (Die Handschriften-Verzeichnisse der königlichen Bibliothek zu Berlin, Band 3).

“… und sodann im Jahr 1869 die Prachthandschrift 19 und die werthvolle Nr. 42 von Sr. Majestät dem König Wilhelm, an welchen sie Graf von Seckendorf, Lieutenant im ersten Garderesiment zu Fufs, verehrt hatte: der letztere hatte sie in Abessinien nach dem Sturm auf Magdala angekauft”

As it says the purchase happened after the storming of Maqdala, it is likely referring to the auction of plunder that took place after the battle.


Listed as No. 42 in von Seckendorf’s catalogue. The entry in the catalogue describes the manuscript as Ms. or. fol. 595

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