Colonial powers and Ethiopian frontiers 1880–1884 is the fourth volume of Acta
Aethiopica, a series that presents original Ethiopian documents of
nineteenth-century Ethiopian history with English translations and scholarly
notes. The documents have been collected from dozens of archives in Africa and
Europe to recover and present the Ethiopian voice in the history of Ethiopia in
the nineteenth century. The present book, the first Acta Aethiopica volume to
appear from Lund University Press, deals with how Ethiopian rulers related to
colonial powers in their attempts to open Ethiopia for trade and technological
development while preserving the integrity and independence of their country. In
addition to the correspondence and treatises with the rulers and representatives
of Italy, Egypt and Great Britain, the volume also presents letters dealing with
ecclesiastical issues, including the Ethiopian community in Jerusalem.
Dated in the month of Jumād al-Ākhir, the 15th, Friday, the
year 1301 Hijra.
ASMAE, AE 2. Arabic original. A part of the text is not clear since the edge of the paper has been cut. Thus, our
translation is in some parts tentative.
RUBENSON TEXT.indd 209
Document no. 159
MinīlikII to Pietro Antonelli, 8 May 1884
From King MinīlikII, King
of Shewa, Kefa, and all its
dependencies, i.e. the lands of
the Galla; [may it] reach Mr.
How are you? By the grace
of God I find myself in a state
Seal: The seal of Bejirond Lewṭē.
Ghali Collection, no. 156, Arabic original. This Arabic text has been extremely difficult to decipher and understand,
thus the above translation must be regarded as a paraphrase. For the author, see doc. 24.
RUBENSON TEXT.indd 79
Document no. 66
Yohannis IV to MinīlikII, 15 Jan. 1882
May the message of the Elect of God
Yohannis, King of Zion, King of Kings
of Ethiopia, reach King Minīlik, an
Israelite indeed, in whom there is no
guile. Peace be to you and the peace of
including a reference to ‘Abdallāh Shaḥīm, who ratified the convention only in November 1880 (see doc. 19), a much more precise
definition of the area sold, including the island Sennabor, the right to raise the Italian flag, and detailed accounts of
payments and previous agreements. This long version was probably produced for the Italian legal system and was
never sealed or signed by the sultans.
RUBENSON TEXT.indd 15
Document no. 10
MinīlikII to Victoria, 3 June 1880
RUBENSON TEXT.indd 16
May [this message] sent by King
Document no. 36
MinīlikII to Umberto I, 30 March 1881
Message sent by King Minīlik, King of Shewa, to King Umberto I, King of Italy, Jerusalem and
How is Your Majesty? I, by the grace of God, am well, and all my army is well. May God glorify
Your Majesty for having sent to me the decoration of the Cross of the Kingdom of Italy and for all
the other very beautiful gifts, and the letter.
Now, by this letter, I let Your Majesty know that Captain Cecchi has been released and is [here]
with me. I have done much work and made as many efforts as I could to save this
. The Italian
version states: “On this the 21st day of the month of May in the year 1883 (Gregorian calendar) corresponding to 14th
Ginbot 1875 (Ethiopian Calendar) in the city of Ankober, the representative of His Majesty King MinīlikII and the
representative of the government of His Majesty the King of Italy have hereunto affixed their respective signatures
so that the treaty reaches the city of Rome as early as possible for the necessary ratification.” Both Amharic and
Italian drafts are found in ASMAI 36/2–13; one is also printed in AP.DD, XV, pp. 62–63. For