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Africa and Africans in the making of the Atlantic World

Women's Studies

Nia Cattaneo

on 29 October 2012

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Transcript of Africa and Africans in the making of the Atlantic World

1400-1680 Africa and Africans in the Making of the Atlanic World The Shape of the Atlantic Zone - 15th century navigation provides ocean routes to areas previously disconnected with the outside world
- Disenclavement - putting an end to isolation and integrating social structures in certain areas of the world
Made trade easier
Let Europeans travel to the Atlantic and the Americas
Let Africans travel to the Americas
Ultimately led to a unified world economy - a "New World"
- International migration of people - European and African alike
- Because travel by water is most practical and cheap, Atlantic waterway linking river routes in Africa and the Americas is vital
- Winds and currents acted as barriers to certain parts of the Atlantic zone
- Practical round-trip navigation achieved in the late fifteenth century
- Niger, Senegal, and Gambia rivers extremely important to African economy
- Empire of Mali, at headwaters of all three rivers, is center of political power
- Nile of Egypt serves as a means of trade and communication for many different countries, connected the Niger, Senegal, and Gambia rivers
- European metal goods were traded for gold, slaves, cotton hammocks
- Water routes defined the Atlantic zone Origins of Atlantic Navigation - Europeans conquered the Atlantic zone through waterborne travel
- Europeans controlled two large inland seas: Mediterranean and Baltic
- Regularly navigated by the 14th and 15th century
- Malocello: Genoese merchant who regularly traveled the Atlantic, rediscovered Canary islands (1312)
- Canaries are first Atlantic islands rediscovered by Europeans
- West Africa had been a source of gold for Mediterranean countries for centuries, sea route to goldfields seemed practical
- A reasonable set of motives was required to receive funding European Motives: Long-Range Geopolitics and Economic Goals - Older school of historians maintain that Europeans explored for joy of discovery, break the Moslem stranglehold on eastern trade
- Others hold that exploration proceeded over a long period of time with monetary goals
- Breakthroughs in sailing technology were developed for profit
- Evidence supports both theories
- Infante Henrique primarily concerned with thwarting the Moslems south of Morocco, secondarily with economics
- Prospect of a short route to West Africa for gold was a driving motive
- "River of Gold": probably the Senegal, depicted in maps of the period - Because of financial considerations, Atlantic exploration broke into two wings: African and Atlantic
- African wing sought mainland products (slaves and gold), leaders expected to raid or trade with inhabited lands
- Atlantic wing sought exploitable but not necessarily inhabited land to collect valuable products and begin agricultural production of products in high demand
- Canary islands served as a starting point for both wings, main source of production for wine and sugar European Motives: the Prevalence of Short-Range Goals - Portugal launches expedition (1415) to conquer remaining islands
- Involves 2500 infantrymen and 120 calvary, resulted in the papal bull Romanus Pontifex (1436) renewing claims on unconquered coast and increase in activity along Saharan coast
- Expeditions to the “River of Gold” turned into slave raids
- Brought back commodities such as oil and skins
- Took the portuguese until 1444 to reach the Senegal
- 1448 - Dias showed that the Cape of Good Hope was the end of the African continent
- Profits were made from gold and slaves
- Cape Verde Islands colonized in the 1460s
- Fernao Gomes granted rights to explore further sections of the coast (1469)
- Expeditions rapidly began exporting malaguetta pepper
- Gomes and his sailors reach Gold Coast (1471)
- 1340-1470 - European Expansion proceeds slowly along African coast
- Diogo Cao came to kingdom of Congo, exports helped recoup cost of voyages
- Contributed to the success of Sao Tome.
The African Wing of Expansion - Slower, less impressive results initially
- Madeira was known as early as 1339
- Not colonized until around 1425
- Held no commercial prospects for trading, but useful for wild products (wax, honey, wood, dyestuffs, cattle)
- Early colonization of the Azores was similar: never particularly rich, served as a base of operations in the Atlantic
- Wheat was first cultivated export in Madeira, required extra workers
- Brought from Europe and the Canaries
- Madeira settlers assisted in the 1424 attack on the Canaries
- Wheat was exported to Portugal and to Portuguese forces in Morocco, on the Saharan Coast and West Africa
- Real earnings from wine and sugar, slaves provide labor
- Madeira one of the leading producers of sugar in European economy
- Crown grants Fernao Dulmo title to all islands he might discover in Atlantic (1486)
- Prospect of finding new islands and dream of reaching India inspire Columbus (1492)
- Discovers many islands and a continent
- Only the last dramatic voyages brought major changes
- Only the last conquest of the Canaries and Columbus’s voyages received Spanish funding

The Atlantic Wing and the Discovery of America - Domination of mainlands was more significant than domination of high-seas commerce
- Landed freely on islands, resupplied forces when necessary, gathered large forces for final battles
- West Africans had well-developed specialized maritime culture
- Fully capable of protecting its own waters
- One of the first expeditions of Senegal River led by Lancarote de Largo (1444), brutally seized residents of several off-shore islands
- Met by strong resistance
- African vessels not designed for high-seas navigation, capable of repelling attacks on the coast
- Carved from single logs and occasionally had sides built up
- Long and laid low in the water, powered by oars and paddles, independent of the wind
- Craft that carried soldiers could carry from fifty to one hundred men
- Small, fast, and difficult target for European weapons
- Carried substantial firepower but could not go far out to sea
- Europeans had to rely on a relationship based on peaceful trade
- Violence spoiled trade in areas and most countries that had long-term stakes took steps to prevent hostilities
- King of Kongo seizes a French ship and crew trading illegally on his coast (1525)
- Voyage made from Boston involved in raiding (1645), city officials return slaves with note of apology
- Sustained military excursion into Atlantic Africa (Angola) was result of economic controversy rather than territorial aspirations
- Intended to be a commercial factory to regulate trade from the Ndongo
- People of eastern Caribbean possess naval technology to defeat Spanish ships and often lead raids on Spanish neighboring islands
- The French, English, and Dutch forced into co-dominion, long lasting military struggle
- European conquest of Americas far from complete
- Attained Native American land slowly after long-standing military pressure
- Inhabitants of Florida defeated Ponce de Leon’s attack and captured several of his ships
- Many South American regions controlled by Native Americans with European settlers in uneasy co-dominion (1680)
Oceanic Navigation and Political Domination
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