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Article

thirtieth and final sultan of the Moroccan Marinid dynasty, became titular head of the state at the age of one, after his father, Abu Saʿid Uthman III, was murdered. This development allowed ʿAbd al-Haqq’s regent, Abu Zakariyya Yahya al-Wattasi, to rule the state in his name. Upon Abu Zakariyya’s death in 1448, his nephew, ʿAli ibn Yusuf, took power, once again in the name of ʿAbd al-Haqq, whom the Wattasids kept excluded from real authority. Ten years later, in 1458, ʿAli ibn Yusuf al Wattasi died, and Abu Zakariyya’s son, Yahya, took over the all-powerful position as ʿAbd al-Haqq’s regent.

It was at this point that ʿAbd al-Haqq rebelled against Wattasid dominance in order to exercise his authority independently. After executing every member of the Wattasid family living in Fez, ʿAbd al-Haqq proceeded to punish Fezzi ulama who had countenanced the Wattasid co optation of power His ...

Article

Adhuu  

Trevor Hall

who was one of the first West Africans enslaved by the Portuguese in 1441, and transported by ship to Europe. He lived in Rio de Oro (modern-day Western Sahara). Information about his parents and marital status is not known; however, Adhuu was captured with a youth who may have been his relative. His reason for renown is that after he was enslaved in Portugal, he negotiated his freedom with Prince Henry the Navigator (1394–1460). Adhuu probably spoke Berber or Arabic, and communicated with Portuguese translators.

The Portuguese royal chronicler Gomes Eannes da Azurara witnessed Adhuu’s arrival in Portugal in 1441 Azurara said that Prince Henry had ordered Captain Antam Goncalves to sail from Portugal to West Africa and capture the first persons he found and transport them back to him Captain Goncalves sailed to Rio de Oro where he spotted human and camel tracks along the ...

Article

Born Nzinga Mbemba, Afonso I ascended the throne in 1506 after the death of his father, Nzinga a Nkuwu. Unlike his father, who had rejected Catholicism and limited contact with the Portuguese explorers, Afonso had been baptized as a Christian when the Kongo court converted in 1491. During his time as governor of Kongo's Nsundi province, Afonso entertained Portuguese priests and gained a reputation for Christian piety. When his father died, around 1590, Afonso returned to Mbanza Kongo, the capital, to seek the throne. His half brother, Mpanzu Kitima, raised a provincial army to remove Afonso from the capital. Afonso characterized the struggle as being between Christian and anti-Christian forces and later maintained that the Christians had won through the intervention of Saint James.

From the beginning of his reign Afonso sought to Christianize Kongo creating a financial base a school system a parish organization and a naturalized ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

leader of the Kongo kingdom, was born in the mid-fourteenth century. His birth name was Mvemba a Nzinga and he was the child of King João I Nzinga Nkuwu of Kongo and Nzinga a Nlaza, one of the king’s wives. When the Portuguese ship captain Diogo Cão first arrived in 1483, Afonso was a high-ranking officer in the kingdom. He consented to be baptized by Catholic missionaries. When a royal court faction opposed to Christianity arose after João I’s baptism in 1491, Afonso developed his authority in his own province of Nsundi. He allowed two Portuguese priests, Goncalve Vas and Rodrigue Anes, to live in his court.

Not surprisingly Portuguese missionaries and officials gave Afonso support especially after his father renounced Christianity In Nsundi Afonso used his privileged access to European trade goods to gain access to valuable high grade copper located north of the Congo River and ...

Article

Agaja  

Jeremy Rich

king of Dahomey, was born sometime in the later decades of the seventeenth century. According to oral traditions collected in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Agaja succeeded his brother Akaba to the throne in large part because of his support from influential royal women. Na Geze, a royal princess married to the ruler of the city-state of Ouidah located directly south of Dahomey, supported Agaja’s claims to power. Likewise, his eldest sister and Akaba’s twin Na Hangbe also intervened on the behalf of Akaba’s son Agbo Sassa. According to European slave traders’ accounts and oral narratives, Agaja battled Agbo Sassa for the throne around 1718. Apparently, Hangbe denounced Agaja as a usurper, to no avail; and her son was forced to flee to the north.

Once Agaja had seized the throne he launched a series of reforms within the kingdom and led numerous campaigns against Dahomey s neighbors One ...

Article

Agaja  

Elizabeth Heath

The third ruler of the Dahomey Kingdom, Agaja succeeded his brother, Akaba, in 1708. Agaja was a shrewd and powerful king, expanding the kingdom and making it one of the most powerful in West Africa. He spent much of his early reign instituting administrative reforms that centralized and strengthened the kingdom: he created an elite corps of female guards, enlarged the royal army, and employed a group of military spies who acquired information about neighboring groups. These innovations proved crucial to his victorious conquest of the Allada and Whydah Kingdoms in the 1720s. The acquisition of these coastal kingdoms gave the previously landlocked Dahomey access to the sea and, consequently, European trade.

Agaja's ambition to control the transatlantic slave trade that flowed through these ports brought him into rivalry with the neighboring Yoruba kingdom of Oyo, whose attacks on Dahomey forced Agaja to surrender in 1730 and ...

Article

Agonglo  

Robin Law

king of Dahomey (in modern Benin), was the son of Kpengla, his predecessor as king of Dahomey (r. 1774–1789). His official “Queen Mother” (kpojito), appointed as such after his accession to the throne, was a woman called Senume, but it is not clear whether she was also his biological mother. Contemporary European sources give his name as Wheenoohew, but this is not recognized in Dahoman tradition. He was also alternatively called Adarunza, but this seems to be a generic surname which (also in other variants, such as Adahoonzou) was applied by Europeans to all kings of the dynasty (Agonglo being counted as Adarunza VIII).

Agonglo s accession to the throne was contested with two other princes presenting themselves as candidates and his political position at the beginning of his reign appears to have been insecure requiring him to conciliate his senior officials and the populace more generally ...

Article

Ness Creighton

Egyptian government official, was a leader of the Qasimiyya bey household and political faction. He rose to power in the under the Mamluks shortly before the death of the chieftain of an opposing faction named Ridvan Bey. Alternate forms of his name are Ahamad Bey bi-Qanatir al-Sibaʾ and Ahmad Bey Bushnaq. Ahmad Bey appears to have been one of a number of Bosnian soldiers from the Ottoman capital inserted into the Qasimi faction in an effort to counter the rising power of the Faqari faction in general, and Ridvan Bey in particular. Turkish chronicles of the period refer to Ahmad Bey, his brother Shaʾban Bey, and his nephew Ibrahim Bey Abu Shanab all as “Yeni Kapth,” an epithet that most likely refers to the Yeni Kapi quarter on the Marmara coast of Istanbul.

Ahmad Bey had grown to be the only rival of Ridvan Bey the powerful faction leader of ...

Article

George Michael La Rue

sultan of the Sudanese kingdom of Darfur (c. 1682–1722) was born in Jabal Marra to Sultan Musa and an unknown woman; his full name was Ahmad Bukr bin Musa bin Sulayman. He built up Darfur as a regional power, energetically worked to expand the role of Islam, and invited new ethnic groups to settle in the sultanate.

As the youngest of his father s eight sons Ahmad Bukr came to power after his oldest brother proved unfit There are few fixed dates in his history but he was very successful in his military campaigns routing such local rivals as the Gimr in a seven year campaign and driving the invading forces of Wadai out of his territory They had reached the Kabkabiyya region north of Jabal Marra and he countered by sending to Egypt for firearms and to Bagirmi a sultanate west of Wadai for allies To consolidate his ...

Article

Kathleen Sheldon

queen mother in Ghana, where she served as asantehemaa from around 1809 until about 1819, when she was removed from office after being involved in a failed rebellion against Osei Tutu Kwame. Her father was Apa Owusi, who held the position of mampon apahene, or chief of the locality of Mampon; her mother, Sewaa Awukuwa, was a member of the Asante royal family. It appears from some sources that Adoma Akosua was married to a son of Asantehene Osei Kwadwo.

When the ruling queen mother, Asantehemaa Konadu Yaadom, died in 1809, there were two women with a strong genealogical claim to succeed her. One was Konadu Yaadom’s own daughter, Yaa Dufi, and the other was Adoma Akosua. Adoma Akosua was a matrilateral cousin of Asantehene Osei Tutu Kwame (their mothers were sisters); as such she was eligible to be named asantehemaa and she was selected for ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

king of Kongo, was born in the middle of the sixteenth century. His birth name was Nimi a Lukeni Lua Mvemba. Little is known of his early life, and the name of his father has not survived. His mother, Isabel Lukeni Lua Mbemba, remarried King Henrique I of Kongo after Álvaro’s father had passed away. Henrique I died fighting Téké warriors from the northern Anziku kingdom only a year after ascending to the throne in 1567. The Kongolese people already had suffered greatly during a civil war for the succession of the kingdom following the death of Diogo i in November 1561. It is unclear how Álvaro gained the throne. Between 1584 and 1588 the Kongolese ambassador to the Vatican Duarte Lopes claimed that Álvaro had been acclaimed king by a majority of the major noble families but some historians believe he wrested power through force In ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

king of Kongo, was born in the middle of the sixteenth century to King Álvaro I and a slave wife. At the death of his father in 1587 Álvaro had to struggle against a number of male and female members of the royal family in order to ascend to the throne According to a Jesuit at the court Álvaro II defeated one of his brothers in a single combat duel in order to claim the crown To strengthen his power Álvaro created a large army of Tio slave soldiers that grew to over sixteen thousand men They were purchased at the Malebo Pool of the Congo River on the outskirts of Kongolese territory With this force Álvaro could dominate the aristocratic families and the provinces in a much more centralized fashion than his predecessors For example Álvaro appointed royal judges to oversee tribunals in each province Upon the death ...

Article

Amina  

LaRay Denzer

sarauniya (queen) of Zazzau (present-day Zaria, Nigeria), was the legendary warrior and state builder who established the kingdom of Zazzau as a major Hausa state in the sixteenth century. Also known as Aminatu, she may have been born about 1533, but this is uncertain. She was the eldest daughter of Bakwa Turunku, the twenty-second sarki (ruler) of Zazzau (now Zaria). There are conflicting accounts about the gender of this ruler. Historian Abubakr Saʾad believes that she was a woman and argues that she very likely was the sarauniya of Kufena, the predecessor kingdom to Zazzau. Among the estates under her authority was Turunku. When an interregnum occurred, she was either appointed ruler or seized control of Kufena and in 1537 moved her capital to Zazzau which she named after her second daughter to secure land for expansion and better water supplies Her reign was mostly peaceful except for ...

Article

José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva is best known for helping Brazil achieve independence in 1822. It is less often recognized that the year after independence he authored a plan for “the slow emancipation of the blacks.” In this plan he argued: “It is time, and more than time, for us to put a stop to a traffic so barbaric and butcherlike, time too for us to eliminate gradually the last traces of slavery among us, so that in a few generations we may be able to form a homogeneous nation, without which we shall never be truly free, respectable, and happy.”

Andrada e Silva argued that slavery was morally wrong and economically inefficient a violation of God s laws and the laws of justice and a corrupt influence over Brazil s inhabitants Slave labor he believed resulted in the slaveholders idleness and gave ordinary Brazilians little incentive to ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

king of the Merina state of central Madagascar and a pivotal figure in its eighteenth-century expansion, was born around 1745 in the northern Malagasy town of Ikaloy. His father, Andriamiaramanjaka, was a member of the Zafimamy royal family of the northern independent kingdom of Alahamadintany. His mother, Ranavalonandriambelomasina, was the daughter of Merina monarch Andriambelomasina, who ruled Merina from roughly 1730 to 1770. He also was the nephew of Andriambelomasina’s successor, Andrianjafy, who was the king of Merina from 1770 to 1787.

He stayed with his father in Ikaloy until he was roughly twelve when he moved to the Merina court As a young man Andrianampoinimerina became a wealthy merchant and probably engaged in slave trading At the same time he presented himself as a defender of ordinary commoners fearful of slave raiding threats from neighbors like the Sakalava kingdom and unjust officials Supposedly Andriambelomasina had stipulated that ...

Article

Ari Nave

Oral traditions recorded by Jesuit missionaries in the late eighteenth century suggest that Andriambélomàsina, ruler of the Imerina (the territory of the Merina ethnic group) from 1730 to 1770 , directed that his eldest son Andrianjàfy succeed him, followed by his grandson Ramboàsalàma, son of his eldest daughter. Andrianjàfy, however, intended for his own son to take his place and plotted to kill Ramboàsalàma, who, fearing for his life, fled to the north. Supported by a dozen Merina chiefs, Ramboàsalàma returned in 1787, overtaking the city of Ambohimànga and exiling his uncle, who was later killed.

Ramboàsalàma was crowned Andrianampoinimerina, “the prince in the heart of Imerina.” After consolidating power through treaties and marriage alliances and establishing a capital at Antananarivo in about 1795 Andrianampoinimerina also known as Nampoina began to expand the Merina Empire Eventually he controlled much of the island conquering and consolidating the Betsileo Sihanaka ...

Article

Anton  

Jean Mutaba Rahier

In 1553 Anton and twenty-two other slaves embarked from Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, as part of merchandise bound for the Peruvian port of Callao. The ship wrecked off the coast of Esmeraldas, and the twenty-three slaves killed their Spanish captors and escaped into the forest.

At that time various small indigenous groups inhabited central Esmeraldas: the Niguas, Yumbos, Campaces, Lachas, and Malabas. The first contact of the maroons was with the Niguas and the Yumbos. As the groups clashed, the maroons enjoyed an advantage in combat, owing to the surprise provoked by their arrival and the firearms they had liberated from the shipwreck. Anton was nicknamed “the big sorcerer,” and his witchcraft skills were also a decisive factor in instilling fear into the Niguas and gaining their respect.

Through Anton's leadership the maroons increasingly dominated the indigenous communities. Sebastian Alonso de Illescas gradually established himself as Anton s ...

Article

A governor under Ali, Muhammad rebelled against Ali's son and successor and in 1493 ascended the throne. Two years later he went on a prolonged pilgrimage to Mecca that became legendary both in Europe and the Middle East for its pomp and ostentation. On his return, Muhammad set out not only to enlarge his empire, but also to transform the previously African state into an Islamic kingdom. Although he failed in that effort, he restored Tombouctou as a center of faith and learning and favored Muslim scholars with grants of land and high posts in government. Refining the administrative machinery inherited from Ali, he established directorial positions—similar to those of modern cabinet ministers—for finance, justice, agriculture, and other affairs. Although more a statesman than a warrior, he added vast territories to his realm, extending his influence as far west as the Atlantic Ocean. In 1528 Muhammad was overthrown by ...

Article

Jay Spaulding

Funj king nicknamed “the Red,” saw the Funj kingdom (in present-day Sudan) reach its apogee of power under his rule (AH 1103/1692 CE to AH 1128/1716 CE). Badi was a competent ruler, if perhaps not the equal of his second predecessor and namesake, who had been reputed the wisest man in the kingdom. The king resided at the capital city of Sinnar in a great palace complex of packed earth surrounded in part by a palisade of thorn boughs and surmounted by a lofty five-story tower. Before the gates of the palace lay the fashir, a great open square where state festivals were held and where a great weekly market took place. Slave attendants policed the market while leading Badi’s royal lions; it was considered judicious to give them something. On Fridays, Badi and his entourage processed across the fashir to the royal mosque for noonday prayers after ...

Article

Jay Spaulding

king of Sinnar in present-day Sudan (r. AH 1136/1724 CE to AH 1175/1762 CE), was nicknamed “Abu Shulukh,” perhaps because of conspicuous facial cicatrization. He assumed the throne as a youth on the death of his father, Nol. The regent Doka, remembered as “the Good Wazir,” ruled the kingdom until 1142/1729–1730, and from the latter year until 1156/1742–1743 the regency was held by Badi’s maternal uncle, Ismaʿil. Badi emerged from his minority in 1744 during the Second Ethiopian War; it was said that the Sudanese victory could be attributed to his leadership in prayer.

Upon his personal assumption of power Badi took steps to change fundamentally the organization of the government of Sinnar He was the first king to personify the rejection of matrilineal succession among the nobility of Sinnar Badi s father Nol although he himself belonged to the old elite made his son Badi the ...