“In 1444 and 1445 a number of ships sailed with Henry’s license to “Guinea,” and several of their commanders achieved notable successes. Thus Dinis Diaz, Nuno Tristam, and others reached Senegal. Diaz rounded Cape Verde in 1455, and in 1446 Alvaro Ferdnandez sailed on as far as the River Gambia(?) and the Cape of Masta (Cabo dos Mastos). In 1445, also Joao Fernandez spent seven months among the natives of the Arguim coast and brought back the first trustworthy account of a part of the interior.”

“Goncalo de Sintra and Goncalo Pacheco, in 1445, and Nuno Tristam in 1446, fell victims to the hostility of the Moors and Negroes, who, perhaps, felt some natural resentment against their new visitors. For, in Azurara’s estimate, the Portuguese up to the year 1446 had carried off 927 captives from these parts; and the disposition and conversion of these prisoners occupied a good portion of Infant’s time. He probably relied on finding efficient material among these slaves for the further exploration and Christianization of the Coast, and even of the Upland. We know that he used some of them as guides and interpreters.”

“Cadamosto’s two journeys of 1455-6 and Diego Gomez ventures of 1458-60, advanced West African discovery almost to Sierra Leone. The former, a Venetian seaman in the service of Prince Henry, also explored part of the courses of the Senegal and the Gambia and gained much information about the native tribes. One of his chief exploits, an alleged discovery of the Cape Verde islands, has been disputed in the name of Diego Gomez, who inn 1458-60 twice sailed to Guinea, and on the second voyage “sighted islands in the Ocean, to which no mad had come before.”

“We postpone this point for further examination, only adding that we believe Cadamosto’s prior claim to be sound, although the islands in question do not appear in any document before 1460. Meanwhile the Prince, when his explorations (from 1441) first began to promise important results, obtained from Pope Eugenius IV a plenary indulgence to those who shared in the war against the Moors consequent on the new discoveries, and from the Regent D. Pedro he also gained a donation of the Royal Fifth on the profits accruing from the new lands, as well as the sole right of permitting voyages to these parts.”

“The Infant’s work, was moreover, recognized in bulls of Nicholas V (1455) and of Calixtus III (March 13th, 1456). In earlier life–apparently soon after the capture of Ceuta and the embassy of Manuel Palaeolgus asking for help against the Turks–he had been invited, Azurara tells us, by a predecessor of the Pontiffs above named to take command of the “Apostolic armies,” and similar invitations reached him from the Emperor of Germany, the King of England (Henry V or VI) and the King of Castille.”

“Now it was so, that in the household of the Infant there were two noble esquires, brought up by that lord, men young in years and fit for great deeds. And after the Infant returned from raising the siege of Ceuta, when the united power of those Moorish Kings had encircled it, these men begged him to put them in the way to perform some honourable deed, like men who desired it much, for it seemed to them that their time was ill spent if they did not toil in some undertaking with their bodies. And the Infant, perceiving their good wills, bade them make ready a vessel in which they were to go on a warlike enterprise against the Moors, directing them to voyage in search of the land of Guinea, which he already had purposed to discover.”

“We only know that Henry obtained, in 1446, from the Regent D. Pedro a charter, giving him the exclusive right to sanction or forbid all Portuguese voyages to the Canaries; that in 1447 he conferred the captaincy of Lancarote on Antam Goncalvez (presumably the same man who “brought home the first captives from Guinea” in 1441. Cf. Azurara, Guinea, ch. xcv. ), that Goncalvez said to establish himself there. So far, according to Azurara; Barros and the Spanish historians would ante-date all these mearsures of 1446-7 by several years. In 1455 Cadamosto, sailing in the Portuguese service, visited and described the islands, and in 1466 Henry’s heir, D. Fernando made on more attempt to reclaim the Canaries for Portugal. It failed, and in 1479 the islands finally adjudged to Spain or the now united monarchy of Castille and Aragon.”

“Various early Arab MSS, lately found by the Frech in Tombuttu (“Timbuktu”), especially the Tarik-es-Sudan of “Abderahman be Amr-Sadi-Tombukkti,” according to Felix Dubois (Tombouctou la Mysterieuse), supply important rectifications of the standard accounts here; e.g. (1) Islam is found in the Western Sudan from the close of the ninth century.”

“(2) The Songhay was converted in 1010; were for a time subject of the Kings of Melli; but gained freedom in 1355. (3). The Songhay took Timbuktu in 1469; and from this date, for more than a century, dominated all the West and Central Sudan from their capital at Gao. 94) Jenne, on the Upper Niger, was the furthest point westward of the original Songhay migration from Nubia. It was founded in 765; was converted to Islam in 1050, but “Pagan idols” were not completely rooted out till 1475.”

“(5) Jenne was, in the Middle Ages, the greatest emporium of Western Sudan, far outshining Timbuktu, which owed its foundation in part to Jenne. (6) Jenne was also a chief centre of Sudanese Islam. Its great Mosque, built in the eleventh century, partially destroyed in 1830, was the finest in all Negroland. (7) Its control of the sal and gold trade, as well as of most other branches of Sudanese merchandise, was such that it gave the name Guinea to a vast region of West Africa, especially along the coast.”

“(8) But Timbuktu, geographically, stood between Jenne and Barbary, and so between Jenne and Europe, and prevented Jenne from becoming famous in Christendom. (9) Jenne was connected primarily with migration from East to West; Timbuktu, with migration from North to South. (10) Timbuktu was founded by the Tuareg, who owed their new energy in part to Moslem migrations from Spain. c. 1100 (1077) according to some authorities); by merchants from Jenne, who made it an emporium in the twelfth century.”

“(11) In the twelfth century, Walata, or Gana, in the great bend of the Niger [dominated by Jenne] was the most prosperous commercial district of West Sudan; but in the thirteenth century the conquest of the Kings of Melli [placed by these authorities west-south-west of Timbuktu, to the north of the Upper Niger] disturbed the old trade-routes, and diverted commerce to Timbuktu; which, however, was never itself very populous, and served chiefly as a place of passage and commercial rendezvous.”

“(12) From 1330 to 1434 the Kings of Melli built a great palace in Timbuktu, which did not disappear till the sixteenth century. (15) From the fourteenth century, Timbuktu was the intellectual capital of Sudan. This was due to the Spanish-Moorish influence. (16) The patron saint and doctor of Timbuktu, Sidi Yahia, was practically contemporary (1373-1462) with Prince Henry the Navigator. 917) The town of Kuku, Kuka or Kokia, in the W. Sudan, mentioned by medieval Moslem travelers, was probably either a city on or near the Niger, immediately south of Gao, the Songhay capital; or else Gao itself, which is sometimes called Kuku or Gogo.”

“26(p.17). A duke..in the Algarve, viz, Duke of Viseu and Lord of Covilham. His investiture took place at Tavira in the Algarve, immediately on the return of the Ceuta expedition. Together with his elder brother Pedro, whom King John at the same time made Duke of Coimbra, Henry was the first of Portuguese dukes. This title was introduced into England as earlier as 1337, and Infant’s mother was the daughter of one of the first English dukes, “old John of Gaunt, time-honored Lancaster.” “27(p. 17). The people of Fez…of Bugya.–This Moslem league of 1418 Portuguese Ceuta comprised nearly all the neighboring Islamic states:

(1) Fez–the centre of Moslem culture in Western “Barbary,” a very troublesome state, politically, to the great ruling dynasties in N.W. Africa-contained two towns at this time, called respectively the town of the Andalusi, or Spaniards–from the European (Moslem) emigrants who lived there–and the town of the Kairwani, from Kairwan (“Cairoan”), the holy city of Tunis. The founder of the greatness of Fez was Idris, whose dynasty reigned there A.D. 788-985. It was captured by Abd el-Mumen ben Ali, the Alomhade, in 1145. It was also besigned in 960, 979, 1045, 1048, 1069, 1248, 1250. See Leo Africanus (Hakluyt Soc. ed.), pp. 143-5,393, 416-486, 589-606.”

“(2) Granda was still a Moslem Kingdom, as it remained till its capture by Ferdinand and Isabella in 1492. It was not (1418) ruled by the successors of Mohammed al-Hamr, who in 1236 gathered the relics of the Western Caliphate into the Kingdom of Granada. In 1340 the Granadine attempt, in alliance with Berber help from Africa, to recover southern Spain for Islam, had been defeated in the great battle of Tarifa, or Salado (one of the first engagements where cannon were used); but Granada still (in the fifteenth century) retained considerable strength.”

“(3) Tunis.-Leo Africanus mentions its capture by Okba (Akbah) in the seventh century, A.D., by the Almoravides in the eleventh century, and by Abd-el Mumen ben Ali, the Almohade, in the twelfth century. It was unsuccessfully attacked at times by those states whose trade with it was most important, e.g., by Louis IX of France in his crusade of 1388-90; by the Kings of Sicily, 1289-1335; and by other foreign states; but remained for the most part independent from the break up of the Almohade empire till its capture by Barbarosa for the Ottomans in 1531. See Leo Africanus, pp. 699, 716, 753.”

“(4) Marocco.–The city of Marocco was founded, A.D. 1070-2 according to some, 1062-3 according to others (A.H. 454), BY Yusuf Abin Tasfin, the Almoravide. Under both Almoravides and Almohades its greatness steadily increased. Abd el-Mumen ben Ali took it for the latter, and under his grandson, Yakub Almansor, it became the Almohade capital (A.D. 1189-90).”

“The Beni-Merini succeeding to power in these parts in the thirteenth century removed the seat of government to Fez (1269-1470). See Leo Africanus, pp. 262-272, 351-359. Early in the sixteenth century the Portuguese, under Nuno Fernandez d’Ataide, Governor of Safi, attacked Marocco without success. A district called Marocco was much older than the city. “Marrakiyah,” in Masudi (iii, p.241, Meynard, and Courteille), is used of a district to which the Berbers emigrated. (Bugia, Bougie, anciently also Bujaia and Bejaia, a very ancient city.Carthage had a settlement here Augustus established a Roman colony with the title Colonia Julia Augusta Saldantum (“Saldaa”).”

It fell into the power of the Vandals in the fifth, of the Arabs in the sixth, century; and during the earlier Caliphate, it carried on a considerable trade, especially with the Christain states of the Western Mediterranean.”

“This trade continued to flourish during the later Middle Ages, and we may instance, not only the favourable descriptions of Edrisi (c. 1154) and of Leo Africanus (1494-1552), but also the Pisan commerce (of about 1250-64) both in merchandise and in learning, with this city, as well as the Aragonese treaties of 1309 and 1314, and the Pisan embassy of 1378, as a few examples out of many.” “186 (p.233). Write.–[This detail is very curious because it indicates that in the fifteenth century when Joao Fernades journeyed with the caravans, some of those tribes which we suppose to be Berbers had not yet adopted the Arabic characters.”

“It is to be deplored that Azurara is not explicit in this place, seeing that Arabic authors mention books written in this language.” “Oudney tells of various inscriptions, written in unknown characters, which he saw in the country of Touariks. Very few of this tribe speak Arabic, which he was surprised at, because of the frequent communication between them and nations that only speak that tongue. Vide Clapperton’s Travels, and Leo Africanus in Ramusio, etc.]” “187 (p.233). Berbers.–[According to Burckhardt, Trave. pp. 64 and 207, these are the Berbers. Our author includes here the Lybians. Compare with Leo Africanus in Ramusio.]–Se. See the Hakluyt Soc. Leo Africanus, pp. 129, 133, 199, 202-5, 218.”

Source: The Chronicle of the Discovery and Conquest of Guinea, Volume 2 By Gomes Eanes de Zurara, Sir Charles Raymond Beazley


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