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Ethiopia in the "Book of All Kingdoms"

Last modified: 2015-08-29 by bruce berry
Keywords: ethiopia | book of all kingdoms | prester john | magdasor |
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Prester John's flag

Image by Eugene Ipavec, 21 Dec 2007

The 79th flag mentioned and illustrated in the Book of All Kingdoms is attributed to the mythical Prester John.  This as depicted in the 2005 Spanish illustrated transcription, a white flag with a black Latin Cross patty issuant from the bottom and flanked by two black croziers facing outwards.  According to the Halkyut Society edition (#71 on plate 15 between p.34-35), the manuscript "N" (the [f0fXXn]) shows this flag while the manuscript "S" (the [f0fXXs]) shows a red bordered shield Argent a triple cross patty Sable throughout at chief and campaign, and the manuscript "R" (the [f0fXXr]) shows a red bordered shield Argent a diminutive cross patty fichy (?) Sable between two croziers Or issuant from the flanks and facing inwards.

The anonymous author of Book of All Kingdoms describes the flag thus: "E las seńales del Preste Iohan son un pendón de plata con una cruz prieta, e de amas partes dos blagos d’esta manera" (The device of Preste Iohan is a white flag with a black cross having two crooks one on each side", as translated in the Halkyut Society edition).  The meaning of the croziers is implied (as quoted in [f0f05]) thus: "dos blagos d’esta manera, porque en tierra de Nubia e de Etiopía son dos emperadores, el uno el emperador de Graciona et el otro el emperador de Magdasor", meaning "two staffs like this because in the Nubian and Ethiopian lands there are two emperors, one the emperor of Graciona" (see Graciona in Sudan in the Book of All Kingdoms) "and the other the emperor of Magdasor" (see below).
António Martins-Tuválkin, 07 Dec 2007


Magdasor's flag

Image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 07 Dec 2007

The 80th flag mentioned and illustrated in the Book of All Kingdoms is attributed to the Emperor of Magdasor, which is earlier said to be the capital of Ethiopia.  This as depicted in the 2005 Spanish illustrated transcription as being a white flag with a black cross patty with two horizontal bars, and the vertical bar throughout.  The flag in the oval default shape of this source is identical to flag #74, Dongola in Sudan in the Book of All Kingdoms. The anonymous author of Book of All Kingdoms describes the flag thus: "El emperador de Magdasor á por seńales un pendón blanco con una cruz prieta atal" ("The Emperor of Magdasor has for a device a white flag with a black cross", as translated in the Halkyut Society edition).
António Martins-Tuválkin, 07 Dec 2007