“A reference to the map of Abul Hassan Ali Ben Omar (1230) shows us this Western Nile, under the name of Nil Gana, falling into the Atlantic in about the latitude of the Gambia.”

“The map of Ibn Said (1274) has it, under the name of Os Nili Ganah, a little more northward. That of Abulfeda (1331) with the same name, yet a little more northward.”

“The retention of the belief in this river as a branch of the Nile by the Arab geographers is shown by an Arabic map, preserved to us by M. Jomard in his Monuments de la Georgraphie, by a Moor named Mohammed Ebn Aly Ebn Ahmed al Charfy of Sfax, and bearing date 1009 of the Hegira, which corresponds with A.D. 1600.”

“That the river itself was Senegal is shewn by Azurara, the chronicler of the conquest of Guinea in the time of Prince Henry, who speaks of it as the Ryo do Nillo, which they call the Canega. Both in the Pizzigani map and in the Catalan map which records the voyage of Ferrer, this river, whose existence was thus learned from Arab sources, is called the River of Gold.”

“But while this notion of a river of gold, debouching on the west coast of Africa, was thus handed down geographically from ancient times, the mercantile cities of Italy would have the impression more immediately brought home to them by the gold brought across the desert from Guinea into the Mediterranean.”

“We find in the treatise Delle Decima of Balducci Pegolotti, who was a factor in the great Florentine house of the Bardi, and who wrote in the first half of the fourteenth century that the malaguette pepper, which was the product of the Guinea coast, was then among the articles imported into Nismes and Montpellier; and De Barros expressly states (Dec. I, fol. 33) that the malaguette imported into Italy before Prince Henry’s time was brought from Guinea by the Moors, who, crossing the vast empire of Mandingo and the deserts of Libya, reached the Mediterranean at a port named Mundi Barca, corrupted into Monte de Barca, and as the Italians were not acquainted with the locality whence it came, they called it “grains of Paradise.”

“It would be unreasonable to doubt that, with the malaguette from Guinea, gold was also transported by these merchants across the desert to their port in the Mediterranean, and though the Italians were ignorant of the country whence it came,…”

Source: Canarian Or Book of the Conquest and Conversion of the Canarians in the Year 1402 by Messire Jean De Bethencourt

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