Acta Mercuri / Gadla Marqorewos

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[pp. 741-743]

ACTA MERCURII / "GADLA MARQORĒWŌS"

(15th cent.)

Ed. and Latin transl.: C. Conti Rossini, Vitae Sanctorum indigenarum n. 15, Paris 1904

T.: Conti Rossini E:4

[According to the "Gadla Marqōrewōs" (Acta Mercuri), King Dawit of Ethiopia marched with a huge arrmy against the "tyrant of Egypt" in order to obtain the release of the Jacobite Patriarch (unnamed). He advanced towards Egypt as far as Sennar. On that occasion King Dawit met the saintly Abbot Marqōrewōs ( + 1419 A.D.). As king Dawit I reigned in Ethiopia from 1382 to 1411 A.D. (date of his abdication), the incident described by the Acta would have taken place between 1382 and 1411 A.D.]


... Letters were received from the Patriarch of Alexandria, in which he said: 'I am suffering vexations; my afflictions are countless and great indeed. Not only I, but also all the metropolitans and bishops, the churches and Christians are troubled by the tyrant of Egypt. By doing so, he broke the agreement agreed, under an oath, by his father, Emir,[1] the son of As, with my father Benjamin.[2] Were you here, I certainly would not be oppressed as I am. Come, I beg you, come with your army; do not worry about the hoofs of the horses and mules. Just save me from the hands of the tyrant of the Egyptians.'

Our king Dāwīt, on reading this letter, felt deeply sorrowful, called up his troops and arrived at the land [p. 742] of Sarawē, and thence to Hamasēn. While he was there, he called on our father Marqōrewōs. The king marched with a huge army consisting of innumerable soldiers, for he was indeed a wonderful king. We shall write what we received (as a tradition) from our ancient fathers. The historians wrote that the king's camp consisted of six-hundred thousand soldiers (celerum), not counting those (who belonged) to the governors, the magistrates and nobles. The chick-peas and lentils sowed by order of the commanders of the first regiments (aqmina) sprouted, blossomed, came into ears, and ripened before the rear-guard troops had passed, so that the soldiers of the rear-guard harvested and ate them - for the crop was ready for harvest in three months' time after sowing. The troops of our king Dāwīt marched one detachment after the other without intervals, nor were the commanders far from another. This is what we found written in the history book "Maṣḥafa Nobiyāt".

Our king Dāwīt arrived in the land of Sennar. The tyrant of Egypt, on learning this news, took fright and felt lost (literally: as if the world had become narrow before him). He begged the Patriarch to make peace with him and signed it. Then the Patriarch sent a letter (to king Dawit), accompanied with the Cross of Jesus, saying: "Be tranquil now, and go back to your country, for I have concluded a peace agreement. God bless your kingdom and increase your army.’ etc. [3] ... (omissis) ...

Our king Dāwīt, having seen the Patriarch's letter rejoiced because of the peace which had been made with the ruler of Egypt. He received from the legates the [p. 743] Cross of Jesus sent by the Patriarch and went back in peace. He first reached the land of Hamasēn, where he had a meeting with our father Marqōrewōs ... (Conti Rossini, pp. 55 - 56). In the Name of the Father ... (etc.). We shall write the deed of donation of villages and lands which our father Marqōrewōs received from the hands of our king Dāwīt, when he came back from the land of Sennar after he had received the Cross sent him by the Patriarch on the occasion of the announcement of the peace made with the ruler of the Egyptians. (ibid., p. 57).

  1. 'Amrū b. al-'Āṣ
  2. The Monophysite Patriarch Benjamin of Alexandria, Benjamin I (636-661)
  3. The episode related by "Acta Mercurii" would have taken place under the reign of King Dawit I, 1382-1411. At first sight, it seems to be a counterfeit copy of the episode of the expedition of King Cyriacus of Nubia, recorded by John the Deacon (q.v.).