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
Minīlik II to PietroAntonelli, 8 May 1884
From King Minīlik II, 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
, this letter was translated by Antoine d’Abbadie. The “snider”, more properly the Snider-Enfield, referred
to was a breech-loading rifle widely used by the British army in the late nineteenth century.
RUBENSON TEXT.indd 95
Document no. 81
Minīlik II to PietroAntonelli, 9 March 1882
I have heard how Mr. Martini has written things against me, but I do not believe they have done
any damage. I would have been able to write to the Geographical Society of Italy and to the king
himself about what has happened here in this country. But it would be a
Seal: Minīlik, King of Shewa. The Lion of the tribe of Judah has prevailed.
Ankober, 22nd May 1883.
The representative of His Majesty the King of Italy, PietroAntonelli.
Seal: The Royal Italian expedition.
RUBENSON TEXT.indd 147
118c Amharic text
RUBENSON TEXT.indd 148
A treaty reached between the great Adal chief and the Italian government.
Friendship and peace will always prevail between the chiefs of Aseb and Maḥammad Ḥanfadhē and
One person from each side will be
news of Chiarini’s death (5 October 1879) and Cecchi’s captivity reached the outside
world, but by April 1880 it was known inter alia through the above letter from Ras Adal. It was, however, only at the
end of August 1881 that Ras Adal was able to have Cecchi liberated, and only in October that he could join PietroAntonelli, Alfred Ilg and finally Gustavo Bianchi north of the Abbay.
Whether “without excuses”, “senza scuse” in the Italian text, refers to the writer, “I feel no need to excuse myself”,
or the receiver, “don’t bother about excusing yourself”, is not