The Prince and the Plunder

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

Category: Magdala – Ethiopia

Framed letter bearing the great seal of King Theodore and a lock of his hair

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Theodore’s hair and letter in National Army Museum

100023Database entry: Framed letter bearing the great seal of King Theodore and a lock of his hair taken after death, 1868 (c).

This lock of hair was taken from the body of the Coptic Christian King of Abyssinia, Tewodros II (or Theodore) following his defeat and subsequent suicide. The king had seized a number of European hostages and in April 1868 Lieutenant-General Sir Robert Napier’s army stormed his stronghold at Magdala to rescue the hostages.

NAM Accession Number
NAM. 1959-10-71-1

National Army Museum Copyright

National Army Museum, Army gallery

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The divided drum

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A ceremonial drum was seized at Magdala and sliced into three pieces, so that it could be handed out as battle honours to three regiments involved in the raid.

The present day descendants of those regiments have refused to return the drum pieces, despite appeals.

The pieces went to the present day Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, the King’s Own Royal Borderers and the Duke of Wellington’s regiment.

The third that is pictured here is still owned by the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards. Soon after the campaign, it was coated in Victorian silver and mounted on an Ethiopian shield, also taken from Magdala. (more…)

State seal – purchase not loot

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Theodore’s seal (purchased not looted) in Ethnological Museum, Berlin

emuseumplus-1Catalogue entry:

[Automatic translation]

State seal of Abyssinia
Gerhard Rohlfs (14.4.1831 – 2.6.1896), collector
Sudan (country / region)
historical name: Abyssinia
Diameter: 4.6 cm
Height: 5.5 cm
Height: 2 mm (disc)
Weight: <2 kg
ID No. III A 249
Collection: Ethnological Museum | Africa
© Photo: Ethnological Museum of the National Museums in Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz
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from the file E 1126/1868: Report by Mr. Rohlfs to Wilhelm von Prussia
… it is handed over to the king (see also III A 250a, b; III A 251).
1. The older seal of the king Theodore from silver and with the double inscription in Amharic un Arabic, which is the same and means “ras Kassa sultan el habescha” or “the governor Kassa king of Abyssinia”. This seal was in the possession of Eduard Zander, formerly sent by the Duke of Anhalt for collecting half to Abessinen, and later hired by King Theosor as “alter ego”, i. he had to do with the royal clothes, in battles and skirmishes the enemy missiles from the king and on himself. The seal was purchased.

For the sake of completeness, the article mentioned under 4 is to be mentioned here, although it is no longer in the museum here; it was a crown that was reclaimed by the king on 27.02.1869. (Cf. act. 214/69). The crown was sent as a gift to Victoria from England to England (see Acts 286/69). Photos of the Crown were delivered to the museum. Rohlfs ran the crown “during the plundering of the mountain Magdala on 13.04.1868” … “by an English infantry soldier (probably 33rd Regiment).”