Medieval Africa, 1250-1800

Medieval Africa, 1250-1800

Medieval Africa, 1250-1800

Medieval Africa, 1250-1800

Synopsis

This radically revised and updated companion volume to the authors' well-known Africa since 1800 (now in its fourth edition) takes African history from about 1250 AD, when African societies were expanding their political and economic scope, and when Islamic influences were already reaching across the Sahara and down the Indian Ocean coastline. It continues through the period of early European contact from the fifteenth century onward, with much emphasis on expanding Atlantic trade.

Excerpt

This book has emerged in response to an invitation by Cambridge University Press to prepare a Revised Edition of The African Middle Ages 1400–1800 published by them in 1981. We felt that after so long an interval the degree of revision needed to be radical and that this might be best achieved by settingan earlier startingdate for the work as a whole. On the one hand this would enable us to look at the entire continent from a more distinctively African viewpoint, free from the bias inevitably imparted by the reliance from the outset on European written sources. On the other hand it would ensure that each of our regional chapters, the strongest no less than the weakest, would have to be redesigned to accommodate the new angle of approach. For the rest, we have divided our treatment of Mediterranean Africa into three chapters rather than two, and we have added a completely new chapter on the least known region of the continent, which is that lyingat its geographical centre to the north of the Congo basin. Thus, while we have reused many passages from the earlier work, so much of the writing is new that we feel it right to give it a different title.

Like its predecessor, Medieval Africa, 1250–1800 should be seen as a companion volume to our earlier book, Africa since 1800, now in its Fourth Revised Edition and still in wide demand. We hope that, in its new form, it may serve to encourage more teachers and students to explore the pre-modern history of Africa, which has so much of real interest to teach us about how small societies faced the challenges of very diverse, and often hostile, environments and yet managed to interact sufficiently to create significant areas of common speech and culture, to share ideas and technological innovations, and to meet the outside world with confidence at most times earlier than the mid-nineteenth century.

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