Maria Theresa Asmar

Maria Theresa Asmar (1804 – before 1870) was a Chaldean Catholic[1] from Tel Keppe, Ottoman Empire, who wrote Memoirs of a Babylonian Princess, which consists of two volumes and 720 pages. This book was written in the early 19th century, describing her travels through Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine and the harem system used in Turkey. It was translated into English in 1844. Maria Theresa Asmar died in France before the Franco-Prussian War,[citation needed] and was known as Babylon's Princess in Europe.

Maria Theresa Asmar
Maria Theresa Asmar.png
Diedbefore 1870

Facing tremendous obstacles, Asmar, a Chaldean Catholic woman, set up a school for women in Baghdad and welcomed with open arms western Christian missionaries, who then bribed the Turkish government to give them the licence for the school and forbid Maria to carry on with her project. Left frustrated and angry to have been treated this way by fellow Christians, she sought sanctuary with the Arab Bedouins. She set about recording their daily lives, everything from the weddings and celebrations to their assaults on other tribes. She explains in great detail Bedouin life.

In her book, she describes how her family fell to martyrdom - all except for herself. She eventually took refuge with the Emir Beschir, the governor of Lebanon. From there she moved on to Europe where she was repeatedly robbed and fell into poverty. Her old friend from Lebanon, too, fell into poverty when he had been dethroned, thus leaving Maria without anything to sustain herself financially. After staying twelve years in Europe - she wrote her book, making an account of the events that led up to that point.


  • Memories of Maria Theresa Asmar An Iraqi Woman's Journey into Victorian London (2009), Emily Porter PhD (editor). Fadaat House for Publishing, Distributing and Printing, Amman, Jordan.


  1. ^ Asmar, Maria Theresa (1845). Memoirs of a Babylonian Princess. Philadelphia: G.B. Zieber & CO. pp. 14, 152.

External linksEdit