1-20 of 25 results  for:

  • Legendary Figure x
  • 1400–1774: The Age of Exploration and the Colonial Era x
Clear all

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

Asselin Charles

a mixed-race member of a noble Scottish family, was the illegitimate daughter of Captain John Lindsay of the Royal Navy and a slave of African origin, Maria Belle. Her parents met in the West Indies where Maria may have been captured from a Spanish ship. Belle may have spent part of her childhood in Pensacola, Florida, where Captain Lindsay was stationed for a year, from 1764 to 1765. He brought the child to England. His uncle, William Murray, first Earl of Mansfield, and his wife were childless. They were already raising another motherless great-niece, Elizabeth Murray, and they took Dido into their household, perhaps as a companion for Elizabeth. She was baptized on 20 November 1766 in St George s Bloomsbury London the parish church of Lord Mansfield s London house in Bloomsbury Square Her age is given as 5 years and her father is recorded as a ...

Article

Sylvia M. DeSantis

wife of the famous Seminole war leader Osceola, born in Alabama around 1802, was a Creek woman of Afro-Indian descent, also known as “Morning Dew.” Che-cho-ter may have been the daughter of a former slave and a prominent Creek or Seminole man. She was one of two wives taken by Osceola during the turbulent years in which the United States first occupied the Florida Territory. During those years, the U.S. government was attempting to make the Florida Territory safe for the institution of slavery by evicting the Seminoles from their homeland.

Osceola was the son of an English trader, William Powell and a Muscogee Indian woman of Creek heritage The Seminoles who first became prominent in European records during the late eighteenth century were a nation of Florida Indians who had close ethnic and cultural ties to the Creeks of Georgia and Alabama Historians believe that Osceola first ...

Article

Cudjoe  

D. A. Dunkley

otherwise known as Captain Cudjoe, was a leader of the Leeward Maroons, so named because they were situated in the wind-sheltered mountainous area known as the Cockpit Country in western Jamaica. The Windward Maroons were on the opposite side of the island, in eastern Jamaica. Cudjoe was born around 1690, though some researchers have dated his birth at 1680. He was born after the island became a colony of the English, who captured it from the Spanish in 1655. Cudjoe began life in the parish of St. James, the eastern part of which would form the parish of Trelawny in 1771. His name is sometimes written as “Cudjo” or “Kojo” and corresponds to the West African Ashanti name “Kodjó” and the Akan name “Kwadwó” or “Kwadjó.” The latter is the Akan word for Monday, with the ending dwó or djó associated with peace.

In their oral ...

Article

Michael Berthold

backwoods legend, was born on Sourland Mountain, New Jersey, the daughter of Cuffy Baird, a Revolutionary War fifer who may have seen action at the battles of Trenton (1776) and Princeton (1777), and Dorcas Compton. Although they had different masters, both of Dubois's parents were slaves. Dubois may in part have inherited her own ferocious desire for freedom from her mother, who tried repeatedly but unsuccessfully to buy her own freedom. Dubois was owned by Dominicus (Minna) Dubois, a strict yet accommodating master much more congenial to Silvia than was his wife, who beat Silvia badly. Aside from Dubois's memories of moving as a young girl to the village of Flagtown and as a teenager to Great Bend, Pennsylvania, where her master kept a tavern, little biographical information exists about her childhood.

An imposing physical presence the adult Dubois stood approximately 5 10 ...

Article

Wolfgang Effenberger Lopez

a mythical figure very popular in the colonial-era oral traditions of Central America, especially those of El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Cuto derives from the indigenous Nahuatl word cutuctic, meaning “cut” or “shortened,” whereas partideño refers to a herdsman in the Spanish-language tradition. A translation to English would be “Cowboy Shorty.” From the seventeenth century (perhaps beforehand) up to the present day, stories about El Cuto Partideño have been reproduced by indigenous, mestiza, and ladina communities of partly African descent. Most often the cowboy is portrayed as a social bandit and cattle rustler, a Robin Hood figure stealing from the rich to share with the poor. But in other interpretations, he kidnaps women and takes them to his hideout. The figure is sometimes a ladino a mixed race person of Hispanic culture from the hot lands of the cattle country coastal plain of Central America although he ...

Article

Iyasu I  

Claire Bosc-Tiessé

also known as Iyasu the Great, king of Ethiopia (r. 1682–1706) under the name Adyam Seged, was the son of King Yohannes I (r. 1667–1682) and Queen Seble Wengel. After the death in June 1676 of his eldest brother, Yostos, who was intended to succeed their father, he inherited the government of the region of Semen, in the north of Gonder. In 1677–1678, he accompanied his father on a military campaign against the Lasta region but rebelled against him in 1681. Iyasu then negotiated his succession, so when Yohannes died on 19 July 1682, he came to throne.

In September 1683 in Gonder Iyasu married Walatta Seyon who was from the northern region of Hamasen They had only one daughter Walatta Rufael Iyasu s four sons who later came to the throne were children of his concubines Tekle Haymanot was the son of Melekotawit who later encouraged ...

Article

Iyasu I  

Iyasu was the son of Emperor Johannes I and grandson of Emperor Fasiladas. He came to the throne in 1682, at a time of decline in imperial power that had begun during his grandfather’s reign. Through his brilliance as a military leader, Iyasu temporarily halted the trend of decline, reestablishing control over rebellious vassals and conquering areas to the south of his domain. In addition to his military and political exploits, Iyasu was a patron of arts and letters and sponsored buildings in the city of Gonder. He also attempted to settle doctrinal differences within Ethiopia’s Coptic Church, but without long-lasting success. Iyasu was deposed by his son Takla Haymanot in 1706 and assassinated. A series of ineffectual emperors followed Iyasu until the middle of the nineteenth century. During this period, imperial power declined and the empire lost territory.

Article

Joe  

Glenn Allen Knoblock

survivor of the battle of the Alamo, was a slave about whom little is known. He was living with his master in Harrisburg, Texas, in May 1833 and was sometimes rented out as a laborer. One man that rented him was a young lawyer named William Barret Travis. Having arrived in Texas in 1831, Travis was undoubtedly in need of hired help while establishing his law practice. He purchased Joe on 13 February 1834, while living in San Felipe. The time that Joe was owned by Travis, though short, came during the most legendary time in Texas history.

Joe's specific activities from 1834 to 1836 are unknown that Joe would remain a slave he likely knew well as his master was occupied during his first years in Texas working to gain the return of runaway slaves harbored at the Mexican garrison at Anahuac However Joe s ...

Article

John Garst

“steel-driving man” and legendary hero, may have been a historic person born a slave in Mississippi, Virginia, or some other Southern state. In ballad and legend he is simply “John Henry,” but “John Henry” is a common combination of given names, so Henry may not have been his surname.

Songs about John Henry were collected as early as 1905. In 1916 the former West Virginia governor W.-A. MacCorkle confused him with John Hardy, an African American gambler and murderer who was hanged in Welch, West Virginia, in 1894 and is the subject of his own ballad. By the mid-1920s the ballad “John Henry” was being recorded commercially by Riley Puckett (1924), Fiddlin' John Carson (1924), and other white “hillbilly” performers, and shortly thereafter recordings by such African American bluesmen as Henry Thomas (1927) and Mississippi John Hurt (1928 began ...

Article

Marian Aguiar

Though some histories remember the man whose birth name was Khidr as Khayr ad-Din, the name was actually a title first held by Khidr’s brother, Aruj. The Turkish brothers are believed to have been born on the island of Lesbos or Mytilene. They gained a reputation for their prowess as Corsairs preying on the commerce of the sixteenth-century Mediterranean Sea. A legendary figure, Khayr ad-Din captured the imagination of both Western and Eastern writers for centuries after his death. Also known as Red Beard the Pirate, he has been the subject of such works as the eighteenth-century play Barbarossa.

Historians have debated the motives behind the brothers’ intervention in North Africa. Whether they saw the potential for profit and power, or they came to the assistance of fellow believers, in 1511 Khidr and Aruj landed in Algiers to overthrow Spanish rule Although the Spanish did not hold the ...

Article

Stephen Cory

political and military leader, who was born to a Muslim family on the Greek island of Mytilene, Khayr al-Din and his older brothers, Baba ʿAruj and Ishaq, launched a successful corsair enterprise along the Mediterranean coast of North Africa in the early sixteenth century. Battling against Spanish expansionism in the Maghreb, the brothers (generally known as the Barbarossas) established multiple strongholds, the most important of which was the city of Algiers. Following the death of ʿAruj and Ishaq in 1518, Khayr al-Din officially recognized Ottoman authority over his realms and he served as kapudan pasha (commander of the Ottoman fleet) from 1534 to 1544. Khayr al-Din’s efforts helped to solidify the Ottoman presence in North Africa, in opposition to Spain, by the mid-sixteenth century.

Historians know very little about the first two decades of Khayr al-Din’s life. He entered the light of history in 1504 when he ...

Article

Kofi  

Jeremy Rich

anticolonial slave rebel leader, was born somewhere in southern Ghana sometime during the early eighteenth century. His name was extremely common in Akan-speaking communities such as the kingdom of Asante. Kofi was shipped from his homeland across the Atlantic and eventually made his way to the Dutch colony of Guyana. Kofi was said to have been a domestic servant. He worked with Accara and several other men to organize a major revolt along the Kanje River. On 23 February 1763 slaves rose up and burned plantations beginning at the Magdalenenburg settlement They also killed over thirty white settlers A yellow fever epidemic scoured the colony and provided Kofi with the perfect opportunity to launch the attack The goal of the rebels was to flee from the colony A small military expedition ordered by the Guyanese colony s governor Van Hogenheim failed utterly to curb the rebels Settlers from the ...

Article

Kofi  

Kofi worked as a cooper, making and repairing wooden casks on a plantation on the Berbice River. He emerged as leader of one faction of the Berbice slaves who rose up in rebellion in 1763 The rebels successfully held most of the territory of Berbice for ten months After ...

Article

Chouki El Hamel

Moroccan scholar, diplomat, and traveler, was born al-Hasan b. Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Wazzan al-Fasi al-Gharnati (hereafter, al-Wazzan) in Granada, Spain, to a wealthy family (some sources place the date of his birth between 1488 and 1496). In 1492, Granada fell into the hands of the Spanish Castilians, after which Iberian Muslims were forced to migrate to North Africa. In this context, the al-Wazzan family moved to Morocco and settled in the city of Fez. They were able to preserve their socioeconomic status and participated in diplomatic and commercial activities. In his book Description of Africa al Wazzan mentions that after his family settled in the region of Fez he used to accompany his father on business trips to the Rif region and the Middle Atlas mountains to collect taxes on behalf of the Wattasi sultan He also accompanied his uncle on a diplomatic mission to Timbuktu at age ...

Article

Elizabeth Heath

The son of a wealthy family, Leo Africanus was born in Spain but moved to Fès, Morocco, as a child. There he was educated and later employed by his uncle as a clerk. Africanus’s first trip to the western Sudan, around 1512, was part of a diplomatic and commercial mission to the Songhai Empire led by his uncle on behalf of the rulers of Fès. During this trip Africanus traveled extensively throughout the region and visited its major trading cities, including Tombouctou, Djenné, Gao, and Sijilmasa. He recorded his observations on all of the region’s major states: the Songhai and Mali empires, the Hausa States and Bornu, as well as the Bulala state occupying the former Kanem empire. This trip provided much of the research for his later publications.

Between 1516 and 1518 Africanus made several trips to Egypt and possibly a trip to Constantinople. In 1518 during ...

Article

Kathleen Chater

was born in Jamaica, the daughter of house slaves of Sir Simon Clarke, a member of the Council of Jamaica. Nothing is known of Amelia’s early life in Clarke’s household, but she had a condition, albinism, that was to change her future.

Albinism is an inherited genetic condition that prevents production of the normal amount of the skin pigment melanin. Although Amelia’s features were those of her parents of African origin, her skin, eyes, and hair were abnormally fair. It now seems distasteful to gawk at physical peculiarities, but this was not the case in the eighteenth century. Amelia and others like her were not regarded with revulsion or embarrassed pity, as they might be today, but as evidence of the wonders of nature. Clarke was determined to improve his family fortunes, and he decided that such a remarkable source of interest could not remain unexploited.

When she was about ...