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R. Conrad Barrett

Numidian author and orator was born a citizen of Rome in c 125 CE in the town of Madauros in the province of Africa an area that had become Roman territory in 146 BCE His home town was 140 miles 225 kilo meters southwest of ancient Carthage the site of the modern city of Tunis Perhaps as a child Apuleius learned first the native Berber dialect certainly he heard Greek in his home and outside it as well as the language of all government Latin This language became Apuleius s major one he had it seems a solid but not equal facility in Greek After schooling in Carthage the major city of the province Apuleius traveled to Athens Greece for further study where he studied rhetoric and philosophy to learn more especially about the thought of Plato He then went to Rome for more education in rhetoric all of it ...

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Stacey Graham

bishop and patriarch of Alexandria, theologian, author, and doctor of the Church, is significant for his staunch opposition to Arianism, his prolific theological works, and his exile-ridden episcopate during a tumultuous time for Church and imperial politics. His most influential work is the seminal hagiography of Western monasticism, Life of Anthony.

Athanasius was born in Alexandria Egypt probably in the year 296 though possibly as late as 300 At an early age he came to the attention of Alexander the patriarch of Alexandria who ordained him as a priest and brought him into the patriarch s service Alexandria in the fourth century cultivated a mixture of intellectual philosophical and religious schools of thought from its long standing pagan Jewish and Christian communities The city was economically vital as the main grain supplier for the imperial capital at Constantinople and it ranked third among the four patriarchates in the early ...

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Donald Yacovone

minister, author, and abolitionist, was born in North Bridgewater (later Brockton), Massachusetts, to James, a successful businessman, and Sarah Dunbar Easton. Easton'sTreatise on the Intellectual Character, and Civil and Political Condition of the Colored People of the U. States (1837) was the nation's first systematic study of racism and stands with David Walker's Appeal (1829) as among the most important writings by African Americans during the early nineteenth century. The seven children of the Easton family blended African, American Indian, and white ancestry. Thus, the concept of “race,” as whites began to redefine it in the early nineteenth century, possessed little meaning to the Eastons. Indeed, one of Hosea Easton's brothers married into North Bridgewater's most distinguished white family.

James Easton had been a much respected businessman in the greater Boston area and a Revolutionary War veteran and viewed ...

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Martha L. Wharton

evangelist and writer, was born near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to parents whose names remain unknown. In 1802, when Zilpha was twelve, her mother died during the birth of her twenty-second child, leaving Zilpha's father to raise the three children who had survived infancy. Unable to support the family, her father sent her older brother to their grandparents' farm far from Philadelphia and consigned Zilpha to a local Quaker couple, Pierson and Rebecca Mitchel. Within eighteen months Zilpha's father died. Zilpha felt fortunate to stay with the Mitchels for the next six years, until she reached the age of eighteen.

Zilpha had enjoyed a close relationship with her father and was deeply grieved by his passing The emotional turmoil associated with his death led her to a deeper contemplation of the state of her soul though she felt that she had no religious instruction or direction to guide her ...

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Brycchan Carey

slave, writer, and abolitionist, was, according to his autobiography, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African, born in the village of Essaka in Eboe, an unknown location in the Ibo-speaking region of modern Nigeria. Equiano recorded that he was the son of a chief and was also destined for that position. However, at about the age of ten, he was abducted and sold to European slave traders. In his narrative, Equiano recalls the Middle Passage in which “the shrieks of the women, and the groans of the dying, rendered the whole a scene of horror almost inconceivable” (58). Despite falling ill, Equiano survived the voyage and was taken first to Barbados and then to Virginia, where in 1754 he was bought by Michael Pascal a captain in the Royal Navy Pascal s first act was to rename the ...

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Julia Sun-Joo Lee

slave and antislavery reformer, was born in Camden County, North Carolina, the youngest of his mother's children. The names of his parents are unknown. As he recounts in his Narrative of the Life of Moses Grandy, at least eight of his siblings were sold to other slave owners by their master, Billy Grandy. Moses Grandy remembered the day in his childhood when a younger brother was taken away to be sold and his panicked and grief-stricken mother tried to resist. According to his narrative, she was beaten unconscious, then tied to a peach tree and beaten again.

Grandy often played with his master's son, James who was the same age as he When Grandy was about eight years old Billy Grandy died and Grandy was given to James Until James came of age Grandy was hired out by auction at the beginning of each year He had ...

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Yuval Taylor

slave and writer, was born in King George County, Virginia. His father was Benjamin Grymes, a wealthy Virginia planter; his mother was a slave of a neighbor, Dr. Steward who was therefore William Grimes s first owner Grimes under three different names served ten masters as a house servant plantation worker stable boy and coachman in Virginia Maryland and Georgia He was severely mistreated more than once coming close to death from too much whipping Grimes made a number of unsuccessful escape attempts on one occasion he tried to break his own leg and on another pretended to starve himself Cunning and combative he several times induced his masters to sell him in order to improve his situation with mixed results he also entered into several bloody fights with other slaves A superstitious man he was frequently haunted by ghosts and was troubled by a woman ...

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Kara M. McClurken

minister and abolitionist, was born William Waugh Grimes in Alexandria, Virginia, the eldest of five children of Thomas Grimes and Elizabeth Ann Waugh. Little is known about Grimes's early life other than that he started earning a living at the age of nine, after his father died. In 1841 Grimes traveled to Washington, D.C., to see the inauguration of William Henry Harrison, and he was employed during the early part of the decade by several members of Congress, including Millard Fillmore, then a Whig congressman from New York. In 1847 Grimes married Mary Ann Brown. Following the death of President Zachary Taylor on 9 July 1850, Grimes worked in the White House for the Fillmore family; he remained there until 1855, when he left to work full time as a minister in the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church.

Grimes joined Union Bethel African ...

Article

John Alden Williams

Egyptian Arab scholar, writer, patron, and administrator under the Ayyubid rulers of Aleppo, was born Jamal al-Din Abu al-Hasan Ali ibn Yusuf ibn Ibrahim ibn Abd al-Wahid al-Shaybani to a judge’s family in Qift in Upper Egypt, the town on the Nile nearest to the Red Sea, and thus on the most convenient route from Egypt to the two holy cities of Arabia for those going on the Hajj in that era.

There is ambiguity in the sources for his biography that may be due to the gratitude of the encyclopedic biographer and geographer Yaqut al Rumi or al Hamawi whose patron Ibn al Qifti became near the end of Yaqut s life Ibn al Qifti s maternal grandmother was an Abyssinian slave girl This was not a distinguished pedigree and typically such a woman would have been a slave concubine The chronicler Yaqut reports improbably that she was raised ...

Article

Moroccan writer and explorer, was born in Tangier, Morocco, into a well-respected Berber family of judges who adhered to the Maliki school of jurisprudence. Toward the end of his life he recounted his journeys in a book entitled A Gift to the Observers Concerning the Curiosities of Cities and the Marvels Encountered in Traveling. The work is one of the principal sources available to modern researchers for the social, economic, and political conditions of the fourteenth-century Islamic world. Although not as well known, Ibn Battuta’s travels were more extensive than the journeys of his younger European contemporary, Marco Polo. Over a period of twenty-eight years, he crossed the breadth of Africa and Asia and visited the equivalent of approximately forty-four modern countries. He combined his travels with scholarly pursuits, or with professional posts such as that of judge (qadi in cities along the way A native speaker ...

Article

Barbara Worley

Like the majority of North Africans, Ibn Battutah (whose full name was Abu ‘Abd Allah Muhammad ibn’Abd Allah al-Lawati at-Tanji ibn Battutah) was ethnic Berber, and his family traced its ancestry to the nomadic Luwata ethnic group originating in Cyrenaica west of the Nile Delta. Born into the Muslim religious elite in Tangier, Morocco, he would have received a classical literary education in addition to rigorous studies in Islam.

Ibn Battutah wrote poetry in addition to traveling across Africa, Arabia, Asia Minor, India, and China. Most important of his works are his descriptions of the life and culture of peoples of the Niger Basin and Central Sahara, among the earliest and by far the most detailed. After Ibn Battutah returned from his voyages he recounted his observations to Ibn Juzayy, who recorded and edited them at Fès, in Morocco.

At the age of twenty-one, Ibn Battutah set out on ...

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Marian Aguiar

Ibn Khaldun wrote a monumental history of North Africa, the Kitab al-Ibar. But his most significant contribution, in the eyes of many contemporary scholars, is the Muqaddimah, perhaps the first systematic philosophical study of history and society. Ibn Khaldun was born in Tunis in the region of Tunisia to a family that for centuries had played a prominent political role in Andalusia, or southern Spain, before fleeing to North Africa to escape the Christian reconquest. As a young man he received a formal education in the Qur’an (Koran), Arabic poetry and Islamic law, preparing him for a life among the ruling class of North Africa. In 1349 both his mother and father died as the black plague ravaged Tunis. As a young married man, Ibn Khaldun joined the royal court in Tunis, and later in Fès, Morocco After a rebellion upset the court he was accused of treason and ...

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Richard J. Bell

Methodist preacher and seaman, was born in the port town of Old Calabar, in Nigeria, West Africa, to Margaret and Hambleton Robert Jea. At age two Jea and his family were captured in Old Calabar and transported to America on a slave ship. With his parents and several siblings he was immediately sold to the family of Oliver and Angelika Tiehuen, members of the Dutch Reformed Church who owned land outside New York City. This knowledge comes from Jea's narrative, The Life, History, and Sufferings of John Jea, the African Preacher, written and published in 1815; it is the only source of information about most of Jea's life and travels.

The newly enslaved family was set to work as field hands and quickly felt the hardship of poor conditions and physical abuse Jea found little comfort in the message of obedience and humility preached to ...

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Lucia C. Stanton

blacksmith and slave narrative author, was born a slave at Monticello, the Virginia plantation of future U.S. president Thomas Jefferson, to the slaves George, a foreman and overseer, and Ursula, a pastry cook and laundress. In 1773 Thomas Jefferson had purchased Isaac's parents from two different owners in Powhatan County. George rose from foreman of labor to become, in 1797, overseer of Monticello—the only slave to reach that position. Ursula, who had been a “favorite house woman” of Martha Jefferson's, was given charge of many of the domestic operations of the plantation.

The slave couple s third son Isaac spent his childhood at Monticello near his mother From an early age he performed simple tasks for the Jefferson household lighting fires carrying water and fuel and opening gates When Thomas Jefferson became governor of Virginia during the American Revolution Isaac and his family accompanied ...

Article

Reginald H. Pitts

inventor, entrepreneur, and historian, was born in what is now Gardiner, Maine, the son of Matthias Lewis, a farm laborer of Mohegan Indian ancestry. Nothing is now known of Lewis's mother. Sometime after 28 July 1800 Lewis's father married Lucy Stockbridge of Pittston, Maine, the daughter of African slaves. It is not known whether this marriage legalized a longstanding relationship or was Matthias's actual second marriage.

Although little is known of Lewis's early life, it appears that he first went to sea in ships that worked the Atlantic rim and the coastal trade down to the Caribbean. It is known that Lewis wanted to become a missionary to Africa; after his death, his neighbors remembered, “it was said … that the Congregational Church in Hallowell [where Lewis moved around 1820 had in consequence of the intelligence he had manifested in youth obtained for him an ...

Article

Devona A. Mallory

minister and author, was born in the New York Colony to a family of free blacks. The names and occupations of his parents are not known. When he was four years old his father died. Marrant and his mother moved to Florida and Georgia; subsequently Marrant moved to Charleston, South Carolina, to live with his sister and brother-in-law. He stayed in school until he was eleven years old, becoming an apprentice to a music master for two additional years. During this time he also learned carpentry. His careers in music and carpentry ended in late 1769 or early 1770, when he was converted to Christianity by the famous evangelical minister George Whitefield.

Over the next few years Marrant converted many Native Americans, including members of the Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, and Chickasaw nations. In 1772 he returned to his family for a short time For the next ...

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Sterling Lecater Bland

slave narrative author, was born in Canaan, Connecticut, the child of slaves. James's father, Jupiter Mars, was born in New York State. He had a succession of owners, including General Henry Kiliaen Van Rensselaer, with whom Jupiter served in the Revolutionary War. He was subsequently owned in Salisbury, Connecticut, and later by the Reverend Mr. Thompson, a minister in North Canaan, Connecticut. Mars's mother, whose name remains unknown, was born in Virginia and was owned there by the woman who became Thompson's wife. His mother, who had one child while living in Virginia, was relocated to Connecticut when Mrs. Thompson moved to Canaan to join her husband. The Reverend Thompson married Mars's parents, and they had James and four other children, three of whom died in infancy.

Of Mrs Thompson James Mars told his father that if she only had him South where she could have ...

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Laura M. Chmielewski

convert to Methodism and religious contemplative, was born probably in New York City, of unknown but most likely enslaved parents. All the details of Zilpah Montjoy's life are derived from Abigail Mott's 1826Narratives of Colored Americans, a collection of biographical sketches of prominent and, in Mott's view, exemplary black Christians that includes Richard Allen, Benjamin Banneker, Paul Cuffe, Gustavus Vassa (Olaudah Equiano), and Phillis Wheatley as well as more obscure figures such as Billy and Jenny Poor Pompey and Old Dinah The circumstances surrounding Zilpah Montjoy s birth and parentage are unknown According to her biographer Montjoy spent her early life in domestic slavery in New York City serving masters who invested nothing in her spiritual development beyond calling her by a name that had biblical origins Montjoy was reportedly bound so tightly to her work that throughout her youth she ...

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Paul Walker

outlaw, was born the slave of Samuel Mifflin of Philadelphia, father of the governor of Pennsylvania. He traveled to England when he was seventeen and devoted his life to crime, traveling in Britain and Europe, robbing individuals and coaches at gunpoint. On his return to America in 1790 he was executed for rape at New Haven.

Mountain's biography contains some of the usual elements of slave narratives, but the majority of his story consists of descriptions of the people he robbed, the places the robberies took place, and the value of the loot. The narrative was recorded in 1790 by David Daggett the justice before whom Mountain was tried The frontispiece states that Daggett Has Directed That The Money Arising from the Sales Thereof Be Given to the Girl Whose Life Is rendered Wretched by the Malefactor This raises question of whether Mountain was coerced into making a ...

Article

Sumaiya Hamdani

North African judge and author, was born sometime around the turn of the tenth century CE (or early 900s), into a North African Sunni family residing in what is today Tunisia, and yet he rose to become the preeminent author and legal authority for a Shia dynasty that established itself in North Africa in 909 and eventually ruled an empire that included Egypt, Syria, and Arabia until 1171. His full name was Al-Qadi (or judge) Abu Hanifa al-Nuʿman (first name) b. (son of) Muhammad b. Mansur b. Ahmad b. Hayyun al-Tamimi (tribal name).

Although al-Nuʿman was prolific and prominent, extremely little is known of his family and life before he joined the service of this Shiite dynasty, the Fatimids, in 925. A North African biographical dictionary from a slightly later period notes that his father Muhammad was among the few Sunni Muslim ulama or religious scholars of North ...