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British Expedition to Abyssinia (wikipedia.org)
60 points by vinnyglennon 67 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 24 comments



700 dead 1,400 wounded on Ethiopian side, 2 dead for the British. And all because: Theodore, imprisoned several missionaries and two representatives of the British government in an attempt to get the attention of the British government, which had decided against his requests for military assistance

The good old days.


It certainly wasn't WW2 tactics, but it looks like a fitting strategy at the height of the British Emprire, maintaining image is important when you are the dominant superpower:

> Harold G. Marcus described the action as "one of the most expensive affairs of honour in history.

Allowing an unpopular and weakly defended emperor hold hostages to ransom could set a dangerous precedent no?


"... while the native hostages had their hands and feet amputated before being thrown over the edge of the precipice surrounding the plateau."

Good old days when governments weren't afraid to take horrible leaders head on.


Do you think that the British where driven by moral imperative to depose an evil ruler?


Apropos of nothing: the only other time I recall seeing the word "Abyssinia" is in the song "Re:Definition" by Mos Def & Talib Kweli:

Sinking they ship, like Moby Dick to Ahab

Son I'm way past the minimum, entering millennium

My raps will hold a gat to your back like Palestinians

Ancient Abyssinia, sure to hold the Gideon

Official b-boy gentlemen, long term, never the interim

Born inside the winter, when?

Day after December 10

* https://genius.com/Black-star-re-definition-lyrics

When Mos Def gives off the rhymes (about 1m28 in) the flow is just crazy smooth:

* https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fr6SrRQnZv4


Even more apropos of nothing: it’s also used in a famous episode of MAS*H, “Abyssinia, Henry”.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abyssinia,_Henry


Odd how this 3D relates to music - see my other comment...


Hard to believe that re:definition is 21 years old


romantic glasses on. in today’s honorless world, these historical acts are incredible. reminds me of the terrible fights against Burma, as well as the more recent shackleton expedition during ww1, and defence of hong kong during ww2. romantic glasses off.

these kind of acts can only happen when life is cheap. ask 10,000 people today to go to mars knowing that at least a few, at most all, will die. i guarantee almost no one will sign up. because we value life now like in no other period in human history. for better or worse.


>i guarantee almost no one will sign up. because we value life now like in no other period in human history

Plenty of people will sign up.

That won't stop whoever floated the idea from being fired and dragged through the mud. The majority doesn't really care about this sort of thing. A subset of society thinks life is still cheap, or at least no so ungodly expensive that it must be protected at all costs. However, the people who think life is infinity expensive are loud, vocal and their viewpoint is a simple absolute that is easy to defend so the rest of society caters to them.

Edit: And before anyone implies otherwise, I am specifically not passing a value judgement on either side.


As far as I can tell dangerous sports seem more popular than ever so I'm not sure that is true (I've known a few people who had died in motorbike accidents and in the mountains so I may be biased).

Also, I'd go to Mars!


Yeah, I think we're probably if anything more enthusiastic about elective risking of life than ever before. Risking one's life is a leisure activity! (Both in extreme sports, and in activities that we now know to be dangerous in a way that we didn't really understand before; drinking, smoking, excessive eating, etc)

However, risking _other peoples'_ lives (or at least conscious risking of other peoples' lives; the afore-mentioned extreme sports do sometimes incidentally risk other peoples' lives but the perpetrator isn't normally conscious of this) is certainly frowned upon more now than at any previous time in history, especially to no particularly good purpose (as in the link).


TIL: Queen Victoria truly was a Lady (not unlike the obviously idealized character of the BBC movie - IIRC it's called hagiography), and what could've otherwise been a massacre actually turned into a remarkable war expedition against the Emperor of Ethiopia Tewodros, who apparently was a dick. As a side note, the last of his successors (though fortunately not his descendant) claiming to be nothing less than King Solomon's heirs, was the man Bob Marley sang about, Ras Tafari! Incredible.


> TIL: Queen Victoria truly was a Lady

Victors get to write history and portray themselves as they desired. Everybody else gets to be the bad guy.


Yes, that gentlemen certainly fits the "bad guy" moniker.


Quite bonkers, and news to me. This must have been one of the more grandiose campaigns of the Victorians.


There is — of course — a relevant Flashman book


The Anglo-Egyptian conquest of Sudan was quite grandiose too.


Winston Churchill (a lieutenant at the time) participated in the last calvary charge by the British Army at Battle of Omdurman.

https://collection.nam.ac.uk/detail.php?acc=1957-04-4-1

It's amazing to realize that Churchill's army commission was granted by Queen Victoria and the last government he was in was under Queen Elizabeth II.


A more recent similar expedition was the Falkland war of 1982 where the British, at high cost, sent a force to retake the Falklands when they were siezed by Argentina: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falklands_War


Wondering if they would do the same for Hong Kong if mainlands breaks the pledge to not force changes until 2046? The costs would be incredible.


[dumb joke redacted]


It is pointed out right at the beginning of the wikipedia article that the country was already in a state of civil war.

"By October 1862 Emperor Tewodros's position as ruler had become precarious: much of Ethiopia was in revolt against him, except for a small area stretching from Lake Tana east to his fortress at Magdala. "


I don't see how the issues were trumped up? And I don't see any foundation to the claim that the country was left in bloody civil war?

It seems to me that the expedition mainly succeeded because the country was already divided, and the British were able to barter cooperation from the vaious other fractions.




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