The Prince and the Plunder

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

Author: Andrew Heavens

A manuscript of the History of King Lalibela (OR 718)

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What: A 19th century Ethiopian manuscript of the History of King Lalibela of Lasta and the building of the churches

Where: The British Library, 96 Euston Rd, London NW1 2DB

Ref: OR 718
Digital version – http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/FullDisplay.aspx?ref=Or_718

Provenance:
Stamped on first page: “Presented by the Secretary of State for India Aug. 1868”
Listed as part of the “Magdala collection” in William Wright’s Catalogue of the Ethiopic manuscripts in the British Museum acquired since the year 1847

Fragment of Bible ‘found’ near Senafe (Or. 2273)

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What: A fragment of a Bible “found” near the British mssion’s camp of Senafe by a Mr. J.T.C. Prince and presented to Baron van Heemstra van Froma en Eibersburen

Where: Leiden University Libraries

Listed in Inventory of the oriental manuscripts of the Library of the University of Leiden – part 3: manuscripts Or. 2001-Or. 3000

Or. 2273
Ethiopian, ff.
Fragment of the Bible in Ethiopian.
Provenance: Purchased by auction from the collection of Baron van Heemstra van Froma en Eibersburen, who had been presented with the manuscript by Mr. J.T.C. Prince, who had found the manuscript near the camp of Sanafé, during the English expedition to Ethiopia. Another manuscript found by Mr. Prince from Gouda is Or. 1924, above. (Initials of Mr. Prince must still be established??)
(Hebr. 124)

Arabic manuscript ‘found’ in Maqdala (Or. 1924)

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What: An Arabic manuscript found by a Mr. J.F.E. Prince “in the camp of the emperor Theodorus II in Magdala”

Where: Leiden University Libraries

Listed in the Inventory of the oriental manuscripts of the Library of the University of Leiden – part 2: manuscripts Or. 1001-Or. 2000

Or. 1924
Arabic, paper, 104 ff., dated 1257 AH (1841 AD), copied from the autograph.
The part on al-muhlikat from an ethical work by Ibrahim b. al-Husayn b. `Ali al-Faradi al-Qadiri (718/1318), GAL S II, 147. CCO V, p. 256 (No. 2660) gives a survey of the contents. CCO 2660 (V, pp. 256-257). See Voorhoeve, Handlist, p. 448.

Provenance: Gift received in 1869, or shortly after, from Mr. J.F.E. Prince from Gouda, who had found the manuscript in the camp of the emperor Theodorus II of Abessynia (reigned 1855-1868) in Magdala. Mr. Prince had participated in the British punitive expedition to Magdala in 1868. The fragments of a printed work in Ethiopic (6 ff.), which according to CCO V, p. 225, were kept with this MS have been removed in the meantime. Their present whereabouts are unknown. Another manuscript found by Mr. Prince is Or. 2273, below. (Ar. 1216)

Shield with lion’s mane possibly made for Emperor Tewodros

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What: A shield and lion’s mane made for Emperor Tewodros, taken by the British Museum’s expert on the expedition, Richard Rivington Holmes

Where: The British Museum, Great Russell St, Bloomsbury, London WC1B 3DG

Provenance: Maqdala mentioned at length in acquisition notes. Shield described as possibly made for Tewodros.

There are images nd more details on the British Museum’s database entry – https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/E_Af1868-1001-1

The entry reads: 

“It is possible this shield was made for Tewedros II himself. It was described as ‘royal’ at the point of aquisition and as ‘the most richly ornamented of the royal shieds’ in R. Holmes to J. Winter Jones 20th July 1868 (British Museum Central Archive, Original Papers Volume 94, April to July 1868, no. 7629).

Detail
Museum number: Af1868,1001.1
Date: 19thC (mid)
Made for: Tewodros II, Emperor of Ethiopia
Acquisition name: Field Collection by: Sir Richard Rivington Holmes
Acquisition date: 1868

Red silk royal robe

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What: A red and gold royal robe taken by the British Museum’s expert on the expedition, Richard Rivington Holmes

Where: The British Museum, Great Russell St, Bloomsbury, London WC1B 3DG

Provenance: Maqdala referenced at length in the museum’s acquisition notes.

See images and more details in the British Museum’s database – https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/E_Af1868-1001-24

The catalogue entry reads: “Royal robe made of silk brocade. Partially lined with cotton.”

Details
Museum number: Af1868,1001.24
Date: 19thC(mid)
Previous owner/ex-collection: Sir Richard Rivington Holmes
Acquisition date: 1868