Liberia Vol. I: Portuguese Assisted break up of Moorish dynasty of Beni-Marin

Liberia Vol. I: Portuguese Assisted break up of Moorish dynasty of Beni-Marin

“Portugal, ever since the capture of Ceuta in 1415 (the event which had set Prince Henry of Portugal thinking on West African discovery), had been striving to conquer for herself an empire over Morocco. Spain–that is to say, Castille– was shut off from any such ambition in the first half of the fifteenth century because the Moorish kingdom of Granada still stood between the territories of the kingdom of Castille and the nearest part of the Morocco coast. Portugal by degrees laid hands on most of the principal ports, promontories, and islets along the coast of Morocco from Ceuta (the Roman Septa) to Mogador.”


“By the middle of the fifteenth century, the Portuguese were masters of the northern horn of Morocco, that peninsular projection towards Europe which extends from Tangier and Ceuta, on the north, to the River Aulkus on the south. This intrusion of the Portuguese was singularly disconcerting to the Arabised Moors of Morocco, who, reinforced from time to time by fresh bands of Arabs coming right across Northern Africa from Egypt, or by some northward rush of Muhammadan Berbers from the Niger, had renewed over and over again the invasion of Spain, if not a bold seafaring people) from the Moorish kingdom of Granada across the Straits of Gibraltar.”



“Consequently, the Moorish hosts threw themselves with fanaticism again and again on the barrier of Portuguese fortresses and armies. The intrusion of the Portuguese in the fifteenth century had assisted to break up the Moorish dynasty of the Beni-Marin. Moorish opinion was in disarray. That portion of it which was founded on the less fanatical coast population descended from the Romans, Spaniards, Goths, Byzantines, and Christian Berbers was half inclined to waive in its allegiance to the Crescent and join the Empire of the Cross under Portugal. This reactionary feeling provoked another Mahdi in one of the Sharifs of Sijilmassa in Southern Morocco.”

“This man finally led the Moorish armies against the Portuguese. The young King Sebastiao had just succeeded to the crown of Portugal and was full of crusading ardor. He dashed to the front in Morocco and lost the battle of Kasr-al-kabir against the Moorish forces under the last prince of the Marinide dynasty, Abd-al-Malek, and the first of the Sharifian, Abu’l Abbas Ahmad al-Mansur. Realizing that he had not only lost the battle but the Portuguese empire in Morocco, he rushed on death. He died unmarried. The house of Avis was left with but one royal representative, the Cardinal Henry, who assumed the royal power, and died two years afterward.”

“Phillip II. of Spain, taking advantage of the disputed claim to the Portuguese crown, forced on the notables of the country his own rights through his wife, and by dint of cajolery, bribes, and threats he was chosen as King of Portugal. This union of the crowns of Spain and Portugal gave rise to many results and even affected the future of Liberia. The merchants of England, France, and the Low Countries had long been envious of the Portuguese monopoly on the West Coast of Africa, in Brazil and the Guians, the Malay Peninsula and Archipelago, China and Japan.”

“The Turks of Egypt and the Arabs of Western and Southern Arabia were furious at the way in which the Portuguese had ousted them from the strong places of Eastern Africa and Zanzibar, of the Red Sea, Aden, and the Straits of Ormuz in the Persian Gulf. But England, France, and the Low Countries were ostensibly at peace with Portugal, and Portuguese valor and marvelous resourcefulness in the Eastern seas imposed submission on the Turks and Arabs. The act of Philip II. in uniting the kingdoms of Spain and Portugal put an end to this check on the greed and in the Eastern seas imposed submission on the Turks and Arabs.”

“The act of Phillip II. in united the kingdoms of Spain and Portugal put an end to this check on this greed and ambition of other Powers. In the first place, the same fatal paralysis which the rule of Madrid had exercised over Spanish operations in America was to numb much of the enterprise carried on during the next seventy years in the Portuguese settlements of Asia, Africa, and America. 

“The Portuguese were enraged and disgusted at their “captivity” (as the Spanish rule was called), and worked with less heart at their defense of a magnificent empire no longer their own. But England, being intermittently at war with Spain, and in her hatred of Spain allowing piracy on the part of British subjects when ostensibly at peace with the cold Flemish Philip, seized with avidity an excuse for ousting Portugal from her gains. France followed precisely the same course, and the bitterest foe of the Portuguese was Holland.”

“The Dutch, affecting to consider all that was Portuguese as belonging to Spain (against whom they were in revolt), made descents on the Guianas and Brazil, ousted the Portuguese from the Gold Coast in West Africa and from Angola, replaced their fugitive settlements in South Africa by a Dutch colony, and took from them Mozambique in East Africa, the islands of Ceylon, Java, Sumatra, Flores, and Celebes.  But so far as the purpose of this book is concerned, it is more to the point to notice that at the beginning of the seventeenth century the French replaced the Portuguese (as a ruling power) on the Senegal River and at Cape Verde, and as traders on the Liberian coast and elsewhere.”

“The English under Elizabeth now deemed the time opportune for gaining a foothold in West Africa. Forts were built at the mouth of the River Gambia in 1588, and towards the close of the sixteenth century English trading-settlements were erected at or near Sierra Leone, and during the seventeenth century, Great Britain became one of the leading Powers of the Gold Coast.”

“At the beginning of the seventeenth-century travelers record that the natives along the Liberian Coast were becoming tri-lingual; that is to say, in addition to their native language they could speak Portuguese and English. Dutch, French, and English adventurers who visited the Liberian coast in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries noticed the extraordinary hold that the Portuguese language had acquired over natives of the littoral, especially in the Vai country.”

“The early Portuguese visitors or settlers had intermarried much with native women, and hundreds of Mulattos, still speaking Portuguese, and resolutely firm in their Christianity, were dwelling on the Senegal River, on the Gambia, and on most of the rivers of Guinea as far as Sierra Leone, perhaps as far as the River Gallinas on the borders of Liberia, down to the beginning of the nineteenth century.” 

Source: Liberia Volume I 

El Aemer El Mujaddid

American born Moor, Author, History Researcher, Modernist, 720 Entrepreneur/ Corporate Mogul in the making; who observes & analyzes human nature for data mining purposes. Knowing is Half the Battle, Wisdom is needed for appropriate application of knowledge and right reasoning.

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