The Prince and the Plunder

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

Author: Andrew Heavens

Service book ‘bought at the tent door’ on the march back from Maqdala (Add. 3682) *

Published / by Andrew Heavens / Leave a Comment

What: A service book with hymns and prayers arranged for the hours, including coloured images of: Daniel in the lion’s den, St. George and the dragon, Virgin and child with angels and a priest, Täklä Haymanot and the dragon, and the crucifixion.

Where: Cambridge University Library, West Rd, Cambridge CB3 9DR

The library has scanned in the pages here – https://cudl.lib.cam.ac.uk/view/MS-ADD-03682/1

Provenance: According to the catalogue page: William Simpson, an illustrator for the Illustrated London News, bought it from an Ethiopian during the Napier Expedition as the troops returned to Aden after the defeat of Tewodros II: “This book of Devotion, 350 or 400, years old, I bought from an Abyssinnian [sic], at the tent door, during the return march from Magdala, 1868”.

A manuscript of the Amestu Amada Mestir which ‘no doubt’ came from Maqdala *

Published / by Andrew Heavens / Leave a Comment

What: One of at least 10 manuscripts in the university’s collection that the 19th century scholar William Wright said “no doubt came from Magdala”. He could be referring to a manuscript most recently listed in a 1961 catalogue of Cambridge’s Ethiopian manuscripts – possibly MS XXXIII (Add. 1861).

Where: Cambridge University Library, West Rd, Cambridge CB3 9DR

This post is less clear cut than most of the rest on this website – hence the asterisk in the title. It does not definitely identify a specific Maqdala manuscript in the library. Instead it identifies a possible candidate by following references in footnotes, catalogue entries and online databases.

In a footnote to the Catalogue of the Ethiopic manuscripts in the British Museum acquired since the year 1847, published less than 10 years after the Abyssinian Expedition in 1877, the author William Wright wrote:

"The University Library of Cambridge, for example, possesses several Ethiopic manuscripts, which no doubt came from Magdala, though only two of them, I think, are actually so marked. Among these is a fine copy of the Gospels, of the latter part of the xviith cent.; a manuscript of the xviiith cent., containing the rest of the New Testament, viz., St. Paul's Epistles, the Acts, the Revelation of St. John, and the seven Apostolic Epistles; and a splendid copy of the Old Testament, written for Maryam Sena, the queen of Sarzza Dengel, in the twenty-sixth year of that king's reign, A.D. 1588. It contains : the Octuteuch, Samuel and Kings, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Wisdom, Job, Isaiah, the twelve minor Prophets (imperfect), Jeremiah (including Baruch, Lamentations, and the Epistle of Jeremiah), 4th Esdras, Daniel (including Susanna, etc ), and Ezekiel. Another volume, of the xvith or xviith cent., contains Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Wisdom. Besides these there are a Kerlos and an 'Arganona Dengel, both of the xviiith cent. ; a couple of Psalters ; the Gospel of St. John (brought from Southern India by Dr. C. Buchanan), of the xviith cent.; the Amestu 'A'mada Mestir in Amharic; and one or two more of less note."

The passage does not go further than that. There are no mentions of reference numbers or classmarks to help pin down a specific document in Cambridge.

Almost 100 years later, in 1961, Cambridge University Press published a Catalogue of Ethiopian manuscripts in the Cambridge University Library. That book, by Edward Ullendorf and Stephen Wright, lists :

MS XXXIII (Add. 1861) - Described as a Kala Haymanot, Amada Mestir. A note at the end of the entry reads: "Acquired at a sale in 1878 (therefore probably brought back to Britain by a member of Napier's Abyssinian expedition of 1867/8)."

[Click on the manuscript number to see the entry in the catalogue. You may have to sign up for a free membership on Archive.org to "borrow" the scanned-in book for an hour.]

This could have been the one mentioned in William Wright’s footnote listing works that “no doubt” came from Maqdala. Whether “no doubt” means ‘definitely’ or ‘probably’ is something else to consider.

The 1961 catalogue also suggests there may be more than 10 Maqdala manuscripts in Cambridge. Of the 67 manuscripts listed in the Ethiopian collection of the Cambridge University Library, Ullendorff writes that their provenance is “in the main, from two sources; (a) MSS brought back by individual members of the British Expedition to Ethiopia in 1867-8; and (b) the gift of a number of MSS … from the Library of the late C.H. Armbruster”.

Armbruster donated 20 manuscripts to Cambridge. According to Rita Pankhurst’s pioneering 1973 paper, The library of Emperor Tewodros II at Mäqdäla (Magdala), “this leaves some 47 of which, in Ullendorff’s view, a good proportion may have been brought to Britain by members of Napier’s expedition”.

A Psalter which ‘no doubt’ came from Maqdala *

Published / by Andrew Heavens / Leave a Comment

What: One of two psalters in the university’s collection that the 19th century scholar William Wright said “no doubt came from Magdala”. Those two could be any of the eight psalters most recently listed in a 1961 catalogue of Cambridge’s Ethiopian manuscripts – from MS XIII (Or. 1886) to MS XX (Add. 1489).

Where: Cambridge University Library, West Rd, Cambridge CB3 9DR

This post is less clear cut than most of the rest on this website – hence the asterisk in the title. It does not definitely identify specific Maqdala manuscripts in the library. Instead it identifies the eight possible candidates by following references in footnotes, catalogue entries and online databases.

In a footnote to the Catalogue of the Ethiopic manuscripts in the British Museum acquired since the year 1847, published less than 10 years after the Abyssinian Expedition in 1877, the author William Wright wrote:

"The University Library of Cambridge, for example, possesses several Ethiopic manuscripts, which no doubt came from Magdala, though only two of them, I think, are actually so marked. Among these is a fine copy of the Gospels, of the latter part of the xviith cent.; a manuscript of the xviiith cent., containing the rest of the New Testament, viz., St. Paul's Epistles, the Acts, the Revelation of St. John, and the seven Apostolic Epistles; and a splendid copy of the Old Testament, written for Maryam Sena, the queen of Sarzza Dengel, in the twenty-sixth year of that king's reign, A.D. 1588. It contains : the Octuteuch, Samuel and Kings, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Wisdom, Job, Isaiah, the twelve minor Prophets (imperfect), Jeremiah (including Baruch, Lamentations, and the Epistle of Jeremiah), 4th Esdras, Daniel (including Susanna, etc ), and Ezekiel. Another volume, of the xvith or xviith cent., contains Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Wisdom. Besides these there are a Kerlos and an 'Arganona Dengel, both of the xviiith cent. ; a couple of Psalters ; the Gospel of St. John (brought from Southern India by Dr. C. Buchanan), of the xviith cent.; the Amestu 'A'mada Mestir in Amharic; and one or two more of less note."

The passage does not go further than that. There are no mentions of reference numbers or classmarks to help pin down specific documents in Cambridge.

Almost 100 years later, in 1961, Cambridge University Press published a Catalogue of Ethiopian manuscripts in the Cambridge University Library. That book, by Edward Ullendorf and Stephen Wright, lists the following psalters :

MS XIII (Or. 1886)
MS XIV (Or. 1889)
MS XV (Or. 753)
MS VXI (Or. 977)
MS XVII (Or. 1029)
MS XVIII (Add. 1005)
MS XIX (Add. 1006)
MS XX (Add. 1489)

[Click on the manuscript number to see the entry in the catalogue. You may have to sign up for a free membership on Archive.org to "borrow" the scanned-in book for an hour.]

Two of these could have been the ones mentioned in William Wright’s footnote listing works that “no doubt” came from Maqdala. Whether “no doubt” means ‘definitely’ or ‘probably’ is something else to consider.

The 1961 catalogue also suggests there may be more than 10 Maqdala manuscripts in Cambridge. Of the 67 manuscripts listed in the Ethiopian collection of the Cambridge University Library, Ullendorff writes that their provenance is “in the main, from two sources; (a) MSS brought back by individual members of the British Expedition to Ethiopia in 1867-8; and (b) the gift of a number of MSS … from the Library of the late C.H. Armbruster”.

Armbruster donated 20 manuscripts to Cambridge. According to Rita Pankhurst’s pioneering 1973 paper, The library of Emperor Tewodros II at Mäqdäla (Magdala), “this leaves some 47 of which, in Ullendorff’s view, a good proportion may have been brought to Britain by members of Napier’s expedition”.

A Psalter which ‘no doubt’ came from Maqdala *

Published / by Andrew Heavens / Leave a Comment

What: One of two psalters in the university’s collection that the 19th century scholar William Wright said “no doubt came from Magdala”. Those two could be any of the eight psalters most recently listed in a 1961 catalogue of Cambridge’s Ethiopian manuscripts – from MS XIII (Or. 1886) to MS XX (Add. 1489).

Where: Cambridge University Library, West Rd, Cambridge CB3 9DR

This post is less clear cut than most of the rest on this website – hence the asterisk in the title. It does not definitely identify specific Maqdala manuscripts in the library. Instead it identifies the eight possible candidates by following references in footnotes, catalogue entries and online databases.

In a footnote to the Catalogue of the Ethiopic manuscripts in the British Museum acquired since the year 1847, published less than 10 years after the Abyssinian Expedition in 1877, the author William Wright wrote:

"The University Library of Cambridge, for example, possesses several Ethiopic manuscripts, which no doubt came from Magdala, though only two of them, I think, are actually so marked. Among these is a fine copy of the Gospels, of the latter part of the xviith cent.; a manuscript of the xviiith cent., containing the rest of the New Testament, viz., St. Paul's Epistles, the Acts, the Revelation of St. John, and the seven Apostolic Epistles; and a splendid copy of the Old Testament, written for Maryam Sena, the queen of Sarzza Dengel, in the twenty-sixth year of that king's reign, A.D. 1588. It contains : the Octuteuch, Samuel and Kings, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Wisdom, Job, Isaiah, the twelve minor Prophets (imperfect), Jeremiah (including Baruch, Lamentations, and the Epistle of Jeremiah), 4th Esdras, Daniel (including Susanna, etc ), and Ezekiel. Another volume, of the xvith or xviith cent., contains Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Wisdom. Besides these there are a Kerlos and an 'Arganona Dengel, both of the xviiith cent. ; a couple of Psalters ; the Gospel of St. John (brought from Southern India by Dr. C. Buchanan), of the xviith cent.; the Amestu 'A'mada Mestir in Amharic; and one or two more of less note."

The passage does not go further than that. There are no mentions of reference numbers or classmarks to help pin down specific documents in Cambridge.

Almost 100 years later, in 1961, Cambridge University Press published a Catalogue of Ethiopian manuscripts in the Cambridge University Library. That book, by Edward Ullendorf and Stephen Wright, lists the following psalters :

MS XIII (Or. 1886)
MS XIV (Or. 1889)
MS XV (Or. 753)
MS VXI (Or. 977)
MS XVII (Or. 1029)
MS XVIII (Add. 1005)
MS XIX (Add. 1006)
MS XX (Add. 1489)

[Click on the manuscript number to see the entry in the catalogue. You may have to sign up for a free membership on Archive.org to "borrow" the scanned-in book for an hour.]

Two of these could have been the ones mentioned in William Wright’s footnote listing works that “no doubt” came from Maqdala. Whether “no doubt” means ‘definitely’ or ‘probably’ is something else to consider.

The 1961 catalogue also suggests there may be more than 10 Maqdala manuscripts in Cambridge. Of the 67 manuscripts listed in the Ethiopian collection of the Cambridge University Library, Ullendorff writes that their provenance is “in the main, from two sources; (a) MSS brought back by individual members of the British Expedition to Ethiopia in 1867-8; and (b) the gift of a number of MSS … from the Library of the late C.H. Armbruster”.

Armbruster donated 20 manuscripts to Cambridge. According to Rita Pankhurst’s pioneering 1973 paper, The library of Emperor Tewodros II at Mäqdäla (Magdala), “this leaves some 47 of which, in Ullendorff’s view, a good proportion may have been brought to Britain by members of Napier’s expedition”.

A manuscript of the Arganona Dengel which ‘no doubt’ came from Maqdala *

Published / by Andrew Heavens / Leave a Comment

What: One of at least 10 manuscripts in the university’s collection that the 19th century scholar William Wright said “no doubt came from Magdala”. He could be referring to one of three books most recently listed in a 1961 catalogue of Cambridge’s Ethiopian manuscripts – possibly MS XXIV (Add. 696), MS XXV (Add. 2632) or MSXXVI (OR. 1717).

Where: Cambridge University Library, West Rd, Cambridge CB3 9DR

This post is less clear cut than most of the rest on this website – hence the asterisk in the title. It does not definitely identify a specific Maqdala manuscript in the library. Instead it identifies three possible candidates by following references in footnotes, catalogue entries and online databases.

In a footnote to the Catalogue of the Ethiopic manuscripts in the British Museum acquired since the year 1847, published less than 10 years after the Abyssinian Expedition in 1877, the author William Wright wrote:

"The University Library of Cambridge, for example, possesses several Ethiopic manuscripts, which no doubt came from Magdala, though only two of them, I think, are actually so marked. Among these is a fine copy of the Gospels, of the latter part of the xviith cent.; a manuscript of the xviiith cent., containing the rest of the New Testament, viz., St. Paul's Epistles, the Acts, the Revelation of St. John, and the seven Apostolic Epistles; and a splendid copy of the Old Testament, written for Maryam Sena, the queen of Sarzza Dengel, in the twenty-sixth year of that king's reign, A.D. 1588. It contains : the Octuteuch, Samuel and Kings, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Wisdom, Job, Isaiah, the twelve minor Prophets (imperfect), Jeremiah (including Baruch, Lamentations, and the Epistle of Jeremiah), 4th Esdras, Daniel (including Susanna, etc ), and Ezekiel. Another volume, of the xvith or xviith cent., contains Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Wisdom. Besides these there are a Kerlos and an 'Arganona Dengel, both of the xviiith cent. ; a couple of Psalters ; the Gospel of St. John (brought from Southern India by Dr. C. Buchanan), of the xviith cent.; the Amestu 'A'mada Mestir in Amharic; and one or two more of less note."

The passage does not go further than that. There are no mentions of reference numbers or classmarks to help pin down a specific document in Cambridge.

Almost 100 years later, in 1961, Cambridge University Press published a Catalogue of Ethiopian manuscripts in the Cambridge University Library. That book, by Edward Ullendorf and Stephen Wright, lists :

MS XXIV (Add. 696) - listed with the slightly different name Arganona Wedasse, 18th century
MS XXV (Add. 2632) - listed with the slightly different name Arganona Wedasse, but 19th century
MSXXVI (OR. 1717) - listed with the slightly different name Arganona Wedasse, probably early 18th century

[Click on the manuscript number to see the entry in the catalogue. You may have to sign up for a free membership on Archive.org to "borrow" the scanned-in book for an hour.] 

One of these could have been the one mentioned in William Wright’s footnote listing works that “no doubt” came from Maqdala. Whether “no doubt” means ‘definitely’ or ‘probably’ is something else to consider.

The 1961 catalogue also suggests there may be more than 10 Maqdala manuscripts in Cambridge. Of the 67 manuscripts listed in the Ethiopian collection of the Cambridge University Library, Ullendorff writes that their provenance is “in the main, from two sources; (a) MSS brought back by individual members of the British Expedition to Ethiopia in 1867-8; and (b) the gift of a number of MSS … from the Library of the late C.H. Armbruster”.

Armbruster donated 20 manuscripts to Cambridge. According to Rita Pankhurst’s pioneering 1973 paper, The library of Emperor Tewodros II at Mäqdäla (Magdala), “this leaves some 47 of which, in Ullendorff’s view, a good proportion may have been brought to Britain by members of Napier’s expedition”.