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Giovanni da Carignano

(538 words)

Author(s): Frederiks, Martha
Giovanni di Mauro da Carignano Date of Birth: Unknown; possibly second half of the 13th century Place of Birth: Unknown; possibly Genoa Date of Death: Between September 1329 and May 1330 Place of Death: Genoa Biography Giovanni di Mauro da Carignano was rector of the Church of San Marco in the port of Genoa, Italy, and practised cartography alongside his parish work. Very little is known about his life. He was probably born in the second half of the 13th century, since his name features for the first time in 1291, in a document of the diocesan archives of Genoa, which ment…

Diogo Gomes

(539 words)

Author(s): Frederiks, Martha
Diogo Gomes de Sintra, Diogo Gomes de Cintra Date of Birth: Early 15th century Place of Birth: Unknown; Portugal Date of Death: Unknown; between 1482 and December 6, 1502 Place of Death: Unknown; possibly Sintra Biography Diogo Gomes was a 15th-century Portuguese explorer, best known for his exploration of the Gambia estuary and his claim to have ‘discovered’ the island of Santiago, Cape Verde (Gomes, De la première découverte, p. 54). Few biographical details about Gomes are known with certainty. He is thought to have been born in Portugal in the early 15th century; estimates for his …

 Unknown; referred to by Foresti as Tractatus quem mappam nominavit

(892 words)

Author(s): Frederiks, Martha
The Tractatus called a map; Tractatus Giovanni da Carignano Date: Early 14th century Original Language: Latin Description Since no manuscripts of the Tractatus seem to have survived, it is unclear what precisely it comprised and what its original title was, or whether it had one. The text refers to an encounter between an Ethiopian delegation and Pope Clement V in Avignon. Its exact date is disputed but is often given as 1306, the year the delegation was dispatched from Ethiopia, though such an early date seems unlik…

 De prima iuentione Gujnee

(909 words)

Author(s): Frederiks, Martha
'The voyages of Diogo Gomes' Diogo Gomes Date: Late 15th century Original Language: Latin Description De prima iuentione Gujnee is the written account of Diogo Gomes’ memoirs concerning his voyages to Guinea, narrated to the cartographer Martin Behaim (Gomes, De la première découverte, pp. 12-13) and edited by Valentim Fernandes. Behaim’s interviews with Gomes are said to have taken place many years after the actual journeys, possibly c. 1482 or even later (Crone, ‘Introduction’, p. xxiv; Macphearson, ‘Pre-Columbian discoveries’, p. 64)…

 Navigazioni

(1,399 words)

Author(s): Frederiks, Martha
‘The voyages of Cadamosto’ Alvise da Ca’ da Mosto Date: Probably between 1463 and 1468 (based on cartographic evidence) Original Language: Italian Description Though it is unclear when exactly Ca’ da Mosto wrote his Navigazioni,  it is generally assumed that he wrote the text after he had settled back in Venice, probably between 1463 and 1468. Parts of the text may have been composed earlier, since there are indications that he perhaps used the logbook of his voyages as the basis for what he wrote (Crone, ‘Introduction’, p. xxxiii). Navigazioni has been transmitted in four different…

 Ethiópia Menor e descripçao géografica da Província da Serra Leoa

(1,094 words)

Author(s): Frederiks, Martha
‘Ethiopia Minor and a geographical account of the Province of Sierra Leone’ Emmanuel Avuares Date: Around 1615 Original Language: Portuguese Description Ethiópia Menor e descripçao géografica da Província da Serra Leoa is a work of about 90,000 words, divided into two parts. Part I gives a description of ‘the province and kingdom of the Jalofo heathen and other peoples of the coast northwest of Sierra Leone’, while Part II, which is longer, focusses on the ‘province of Sierra Leone’.According to his ‘Prologue to the reader’, Álvares supplemented his personal observations…

 De instauranda Aethiopum salute

(1,913 words)

Author(s): Frederiks, Martha
Naturaleza, policía sagrada i profana, costumbres i ritos, disciplina i catecismo evangélico de todos Etí­opes ‘The natural, the sacred and the profane customs and the rites, discipline and evangelical catechism of all Ethiopians’, ‘How to restore the salvation of the blacks’ Alonso de Sandoval SJ Date: 1627; second expanded edition 1647 Original Language: Spanish Description Naturaleza, policía sagrada i profana, costumbres i ritos, disciplina i catecismo evangélico de todos etíopes (‘The natural, the sacred, and profane customs and the rites, discipline and eva…

 Letters and reports 1604-12

(1,341 words)

Author(s): Frederiks, Martha
- Baltasar Barreira Date: 1604-1612 Original Language: Portuguese DescriptionBaltasar Barreira was a prolific writer of a large number of letters as well as extensive annual reports on the Jesuit mission in the Guinea of Cape Verde. About 20 letters, five annual reports and some other materials have survived. Substantial parts of the reports as well as compilations of Barreira’s letters were published almost immediately after they were despatched. Consequently, some of his writings have been preserved a…

Introduction: Christians, Muslims and empires in the 16th century

(5,865 words)

Author(s): Frederiks, Martha
The fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks in 1453 had far-reaching consequences that not only stretched through the rest of the 15th century but also reverberated through the greater part of the 16th century, too. With their power consolidated on the European side of the Bosporus, the Ottomans quickly extended their territory through south-eastern and central Europe, and threatened regions much further west. Their defeat of the Mamluks in 1517 brought the heartlands of Islam under their rule and opened up routes to the In…

Valentim Fernandes

(572 words)

Author(s): Frederiks, Martha
Valentim de Morávia, Valentim Fernandes Alemão Date of Birth: Mid-15th century Place of Birth: Unknown; probably Moravia Date of Death: Between 1518 and May 1519 Place of Death: Unknown; probably in or near Lisbon Biography Valentim Fernandes was a printer and publisher of German descent who lived and worked in Portugal for most of his life. Few details of his early life, including his original name and date of birth, are known. He is thought to have been born to a German family living in Moravia (Schmeller, Ueber Valenti Fernandez Alema, pp. 8-12; Hendrich, Valentim Fernandes, p. 35). Yv…

Abbé Demanet

(572 words)

Author(s): Frederiks, Martha
Abbé Jean-Baptiste Demanet Date of Birth: First half of the 18th century Place of Birth: Unknown; probably France Date of Death: 12 July 1778 Place of Death: West Africa; probably Senegal BiographyJean-Baptiste Demanet was a French secular priest, best known for his two-volume work Nouvelle histoire de l’Afrique françoise, published in 1767. It seems he served for some time as a priest of the diocese of Trèves, but little else is known about him until he was appointed chaplain to the French troops stationed on Gorée Island (off the coast of p…

Introduction: 18th century Africa and the Americas

(6,672 words)

Author(s): Frederiks, Martha
As to his Religion, ‘tis known that he was a Mahometan, but more moderate in his Sentiments than most of that Religion are. He did not believe a sensual Paradise, nor many other ridiculous and vain Traditions, which pass current among the Generality of the Turks. He was very constant in his Devotion to God; but said, he never pray’d to Muhammad, nor did he think it lawful to address any but God himself in Prayer. He was so fix…

Aḥmad Bābā al-Tinbuktī

(538 words)

Author(s): Frederiks, Martha
Abū l-ʿAbbās Aḥmad Bābā ibn Aḥmad ibn al-Ḥājj Aḥmad ibn ʿUmar ibn Muḥammad Aqīt al-Tinbuktī; Aḥmad Bābā al-Masūfī al-Tinbuktī; Aḥmad Bābā Es Sudane; Aḥmad Bābā the Black Date of Birth: 26 October 1556 Place of Birth: Mali, possibly Araouane Date of Death: 22 April 1627 Place of Death: Timbuktu, Mali BiographyAḥmad Bābā al-Tinbuktī was a renowned and prolific Muslim scholar from Songhay. He was born on 25 October 1556 into the Masūfa clan of the Aqīt, an illustrious lineage of Muslim scholars who belonged to the social and intellectual elite of Timbuktu. During most of the 16th century, whe…

Alonso de Sandoval

(788 words)

Author(s): Frederiks, Martha
Alonso de Sandoval SJ Date of Birth: 7 December 1576 or 1577 Place of Birth: Seville, Spain Date of Death: 25 December 1652 Place of Death: Cartagena de Indias, Colombia BiographyAlonso de Sandoval was a Jesuit missionary who lived and worked in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, for most of his life. Born in Seville, he was one of the sons of Tristán Sánchez, a Spanish government official and native of Toledo who made a career for himself in the Viceroyalty of Peru. Sánchez fathered 12 children with three different women.  Alonso de Sandoval was born during a period when the family was …

Joseph Alexandre Le Brasseur

(220 words)

Author(s): Frederiks, Martha
Date of Birth: About 1741 Place of Birth: Rembouillet (France) Date of Death: 15 June 1794 Place of Death: Paris BiographyJoseph Alexandre Le Brasseur was born in Rembouillet, France, son of Pierre Le Brasseur, who was estate manager to the Duke of Penthiève (a grandson of Louis XIV). Both 1741 and 1745 are suggested as his possible year of birth. Little is known about him before he began his career as a government employee in 1763. Le Brasseur spent most of his life in the French colonies, including Saint Lucia, Î…

 Copie van de brieven van den godvruchtigen religius broeder Pieter Fardé

(1,759 words)

Author(s): Frederiks, Martha
‘Copy of the letters of the pious religious brother Pieter Fardé’ Pieter Fardé Date: Before 1691 Original Language: Flemish Description Copie van de brieven van den godvruchtigen religieus broeder Pieter Fardé, minderbroeder recollect van de Provincie van St. Joseph in ’t Graefschap van Vlaenderen en ander brieven van diversche perzoonen die schryven wat hem overgekomen is al hy voor de tweede mael zoude gaen naer Jerusalem, waerom hy deze reyze aenveirde, en hoe hy gevangen is van de Algiersche zee-roovers enz is a collection of letters that narrate the enslavement of Piet…

 Miʿrāj al-ṣuʿūd ilā nayl ḥukm mujallab al-Sūd

(1,592 words)

Author(s): Frederiks, Martha
Al-kashf wa-l-bayān li-aṣnāf majlūb al-Sūdān‘The ladder of ascent towards grasping the law concerning transported black Africans’‘The exposition and explanation concerning the varieties of transported black Africans’ Abū l-ʿAbbās Aḥmad Bābā ibn Aḥmad ibn al-Ḥājj Aḥmad ibn ʿUmar ibn Muḥammad Aqīt al-Tinbuktī; Aḥmad Bābā al-Masūfī al-Tinbuktī; Aḥmad Bābā Es Sudane; Aḥmad Bābā the Black Date: Late 16th or early 17th century Original Language: Arabic DescriptionAḥmad Bābā’s Miʿrāj is a short treatise (10 pages in print) that discusses the legitimacy of enslaving …

Nicholas Owen

(325 words)

Author(s): Frederiks, Martha
Date of Birth: First part of the 18th century, possibly 1720s or 1730s Place of Birth: Ireland (location unknown) Date of Death: 26 March 1759 Place of Death: Sherbro Estuary, Sierra Leone BiographyNicholas Owen was an Irish trader who, from 1754 until his death in 1759, lived in the Sherbro Estuary (along the Bum-Kittam and Jong rivers), in present-day Sierra Leone. He was raised in a well-to-do Irish family, but left Ireland – possibly in the 1730s or 1740s – after his father lost his fortune (Owen, Journal of a slave-dealer, p. 97). Together with one of his younger brothers, Blayn…

Pieter Fardé

(417 words)

Author(s): Frederiks, Martha
Date of Birth: 9 May 1651 Place of Birth: Ghent, Belgium Date of Death: 16 June 1691 Place of Death: Aachen, Germany Biography Pieter Fardé was a 17th-century Flemish Franciscan Recollect who is believed to have been captured and enslaved by Algerian corsairs. Some scholars infer an association between Fardé’s captivity narrative  Copie van de brieven van den godvruchtigen religieus broeder Pieter Fardé, minderbroeder recollect van de Provincie van St. Joseph in ’t Graefschap van Vlaenderen (1708) and Franciscan missions to Agades and Katsina in the first decade of the 18th century.…

Alvise da Ca’ da Mosto

(652 words)

Author(s): Frederiks, Martha
Alvise Cadamosto Date of Birth: Between 1426 and 1432 Place of Birth: Venice Date of Death: 16 July, 1483 Place of Death: En route to Rovigo, Italy Biography Alvise da Ca’ da Mosto was a 15th-century Venetian merchant-navigator, best known for his travels to and account of the Upper Guinea coast. Ca’ da Mosto is thought to have been born in Venice between 1426 and 1432 as one of the sons of a nobleman, Giovanni da Ca’ da Mosto (Verrier, Voyages en Afrique noire, p. 7; Crone, ‘Introduction’, pp. xxx-xxxi). Owing to intrigues involving his father, the family fell to into disgrac…
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