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The Golden Trade of the Moors: West African Kingdoms in the Fourteenth Century Paperback – July 18, 2009
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"Bovill is a gifted teller of tales . . . it is a delightfully written and well-organized account of a vast and neglected field of history . . . a unique source book on Saharan trade routes, caravan organization and Sudanese history. . . . Mr. Bovill not only reveals a firm grasp of history but of anthropology and economic geography." -- New York Times
"Bovill writes, as a historian, of the Sahara's golden age, threading his way clearly and with learning through a maze of Berber and Sudanese dynasties. . . ." - -- Spectator
About the Author
About Robert O. Collins: Robert O. Collins, professor of history at the University of California, Santa Barbara, is the author of Shadow in the Grass: Britain in the Southern Sudan, 1919-1956 and The Waters of the Nile: Hydropolitics and the Jonglei Canal, 1900-1988, as well as 24 other books.
- Publisher : Markus Wiener Publishers; 2nd Revised ed. edition (July 18, 2009)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 332 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1558760911
- ISBN-13 : 978-1558760912
- Item Weight : 15.8 ounces
- Dimensions : 6 x 0.74 x 9 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #784,140 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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the high plateau and the Sahara to the Sahel, and from the Sudan to the bottom of North Africa's hump. Bovill, relying on
written history (and some archaeology), traces the history of northern Africa from pre-Carthaginian times to the
beginning of the 20th Century. We are introduced to Carthaginian interests in black slaves and Roman trade (and warfare)
with the Garamantes, Vandals, Byzantium's involvement in the region and the subsequent Arab conquest and spread of Islam,
the rise of Ghana and Mali, the Sanhaja Berber's Islamic puritan dynasty (Almoravids) which spread its control across
Northwest Africa and into Muslim Spain before being overthrown by the Almohads (another puritan sect), the Almoravid
invasion of Ghana, the rise of Timbuktu, the rise of the Songhai Empire, the (Moroccan) Al-Mansur's rise to power and
wealth and the invasion of the Sudan (especially of the Songhai Empire), the increasing independence of the the Berber
governors of the Sudan and the growing independence of the Arma (mulattoes), the rise of the Kanem and Bornu and of the
Hausa states, the Fulani religious and slave wars and their ultimate demise as the Europeans began to extend their control
over the region.
Northern Africa, as Bovill tells us, is occupied by both light-skinned and dark-skinned people. The former include the
late-coming Arabs and the ancient residents - the Berbers. The Berbers can be sub-divided into the Western tribes of the
Botr (including the Zenata who formed the important Marinid dynasty of Morocco), the Branes (including the very powerful
Sanhaja peoples), the numerous and widely spread Tuaregs of the central Sahara and a few other tribes. Of these, the first
two are westernmost and are generally called Moors (thereby distinguishing them from the more independent Tuaregs and the
Moriscos who returned from Spain during and after the Spanish reconquest of al-Andalus). The Tebu, Fezzanese and Haratins
and Zhagawas make up the majority of the people of the Sahara who were dark-skinned. Further South, various dark-skinned
people from the Wolofs of Senegambia, the Soninke (of ancient Ghana) the Mandingo (of ancient Mali) to the Songhai populated
Bovill also introduce us to the famous historian and legalist, Ibn Khaldun and various European and Muslim travelers through
the region: Ibn Battuta, Leo Africanus (al-Hassan ibn Muhammad al-Wazzani) and Mungo Park. The mutual importance of the
Berbers and Europeans in trade matters is also discussed. The Europeans needed gold (to trade in the East) and slaves from
Africa while the Berbers needed military and other goods for local and trans-Saharan warfare as well as silk, spices, sugar
and the like.
Although the book provides a substantial amount of information, it is sometimes a less than complete history. For example,
the rise of the Banu Marin (Marnids) and their dynasty in Morocco and Ottoman influence and control east of Morocco are
barely mentioned. On the other hand, the discussion of the arrival of the Bedouin tribes and their relation to the lack of
habitability of much of the Tell (Africa's Mediterranean coastline) was especially interesting.
Well written, easily read and highly informative, this book was well worth reading and should sit on the book shelf, next to
Hugh Thomas' TRANSATLANTIC SLAVE TRADE and Thornton's AFRICA AND AFRICANS IN THE MAKING OF THE ATLANTIC WORLD, of any