Africa in 1600


Map Code: Ax01581

The Saadi dynasty of Morocco, would, in a decade, sound the death knell for two African empires. Their campaign (1590–91) destroyed the Songhay and annexed their lucrative trading networks; earlier the crushing of the ‘crusade’ of King Sebastian (1578) had led quickly to Portugal’s absorption by Spain. Moroccan control of Timbuktu soon succumbed to trans-Saharan logistical challenges, with the Hausa states and Kanem-Bornu reaping the benefit. Portugal’s union with Spain conferred commercial advantages, providing it with a monopoly of the trans-Atlantic slave trade with Spain’s vast New World colonies. However, it also became embroiled in Spanish wars with the British and Dutch. The Dutch, in particular, pursued that war to Africa, capturing Portuguese forts at Elmina and Luanda in the 1630s. In the east, the Portuguese propped up the waning Christian rulers of Ethiopia, whilst battling the Islamic city-states of the coast and the Ottomans to maintain their commercial control.

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