History of the Atlantic World

Ighayere

Ad Honorem
Jul 2012
2,570
Benin City, Nigeria
#21
Also read that a good cavalry horse would cost the army/emperor (Mali I think) 15 slaves.
Is there any source for this? The only source I can recall right now (Al-'Umari) discussing the purchase of horses by Mali mentions that they paid "high prices" to import Arab horses, but nothing about slaves specifically.

There was a later trans-saharan trade in slaves for horses (for example, the Jolof empire engaged in such a trade), but I don't remember any reference in a source to Mali doing that to buy horses.

To have a figure as specific as "15 slaves" makes me wonder if there is an actual source for the claim, so I'm curious about that statement.
 
Nov 2010
7,545
Cornwall
#22
Is there any source for this? The only source I can recall right now (Al-'Umari) discussing the purchase of horses by Mali mentions that they paid "high prices" to import Arab horses, but nothing about slaves specifically.

There was a later trans-saharan trade in slaves for horses (for example, the Jolof empire engaged in such a trade), but I don't remember any reference in a source to Mali doing that to buy horses.

To have a figure as specific as "15 slaves" makes me wonder if there is an actual source for the claim, so I'm curious about that statement.
I've just read a book about the Conquest of 'Timbuctu' (sic) by Yuber Pasha. Which turned out to be one chapter on this Moroccan invasion and about 250 preceding pages detailing all the background of events in Morocco, Almeria Province and sub'saharan Africa and connections there between, origins of Yuber Pasha, history of Mali, Gao etc.

LA CONQUISTA DE TOMBUCTU: LA GRAN AVENTURA DE YUDER PACHA Y OTROS HISPANOS EN EL PAIS DE LOS NEGROS | ANTONIO LLAGUNO | Comprar libro 9788488586339

LA CONQUISTA DE TOMBUCTU: LA GRAN AVENTURA DE YUDER PACHA Y OTROS HISPANOS EN EL PAIS DE LOS NEGROS
(EN PAPEL)
ANTONIO LLAGUNO
, 2006

I'd just read it when I wrote the above, but I can't remember where he sourced this claim. I'll have to dig out the book again but obviously that sort of thing is very difficult to 're-find'!
 

Ighayere

Ad Honorem
Jul 2012
2,570
Benin City, Nigeria
#23
Actually, not long after I made that post quoting your earlier post, I simply searched for an answer online (which is what I should have done in the first place) and I found the likely origin of the claim.

There is this article:

The Horse and Slave Trade between the Western Sahara and Senegambia on JSTOR

Which discusses the slave-horse trade between the Saharan traders and the Jolof kingdom that I referenced earlier, and a figure of fifteen slaves is mentioned in the article.

And there are these two books:

Mining, Metallurgy, and Minting in the Middle Ages: Continuing Afro-European Supremacy, 1250-1450

The World and a Very Small Place in Africa

Both sources reference the Senegambian region (where the Jolof kingdom was). Both books cite Cadamosto, and Cadamosto does seem to be the origin of the 15 slaves per horse statement.

But there are issues with the claim as it applies to Mali - there is no reference that I could find for that number (15 slaves) for Mali nor does there seem to be any credible reference showing that Mali derived many or even a significant number of its horses from a slave-horse Saharan trade. The first book cited above (Mining, Metallurgy, and Minting in the Middle Ages: Continuing Afro-European Supremacy, 1250-1450 ) does not actually put forward a coherent argument or explanation for its claim that the horses sold in this slave trade were mostly bought by the Malians. But that isn't surprising considering the poor quality of the research in the parts of that book that discuss Africa.

The second book I found (The World and a Very Small Place in Africa: A History of Globalization in Niumi, the Gambia ) seems to be much better researched, but even that book - which does note that it was the Jolof that bought most of their horses using captives, while the Malians had other means of buying horses (with gold or agricultural products) - also makes the claim that the Malians bought at least some of their horses that way (even though it notes that they had other means of buying horses) without actually citing a source.

While it is not unreasonable to assume that the Malians got at least a small percentage of their horses that way (the slave-horse trade), there really does not seem to be any source explicitly showing that this was the case, and the mid-15th century source that does exist (Cadamosto) which mentions "between ten and fifteen slaves" is actually referring to the Senegambian region, where the Jolof kingdom was. Robin Law's book The Horse in West African History also identifies Cadamosto's statement about the 10 to 15 slaves for a horse as referring to the Jolof kingdom in Senegambia, not Mali.
 
Nov 2010
7,545
Cornwall
#24
Yes it's an area and period that sadly lacks in information for us today. Not dissimilar to 'Spain' in the 8th century really in that respect. Where 'sources' are largely very retrospective with serious agendas.
 

Ighayere

Ad Honorem
Jul 2012
2,570
Benin City, Nigeria
#25
There's quite a bit of information available - not as much as one would like of course, but still enough to get a decent idea of what was going on. I was just curious about that specific claim as it applied to Mali.
 
Last edited:
Dec 2012
1,130
Savannah, GA
#26
That number seems like a decent average to me off the top of my head, but not all slaves sold for the same price, and neither did all horses - the Emperor of Mali would have paid a premium for the best steeds available.

Cadamosto definitely specifically mentions the price of 15 slaves for 1 horse but if memory serves me correct he was on the mouth of the Senegal River (where horse populations don't exist because of sleeping sickness which kills horses in the rainy season) and not where the Mali empire was located.

Diogo Gomes also makes specific mention of the price of slaves in Africa. On his second voyage to Africa he complained that the increased trade on the African coast by the mid-15th century (his second voyage was probably taken in 1460) "greatly damaged the traffic in these parts, for whereas the Moors used to give six or seven negroes for one horse, they gave them now no more than six."


15 slaves per horse seems reasonable for me in Mali if the Mali were unable to breed horses during the 9th century and thus could only receive them through the Saharan trade.
 
Dec 2012
1,130
Savannah, GA
#27
As far as I am aware though the Mali had their own supply of horses by the 15th century because horses were being successfully bred in the Sahel region of Africa by that point.
 
Dec 2012
1,130
Savannah, GA
#28
https://soundcloud.com/atlanticworld%2Fbeyond-clovis
Hello, for anyone interested I have just finished my latest episode - Beyond Clovis.


What really strikes me is how much we as a modern society have in common with the prehistoric Clovis culture. The Clovis people invented a new technology which they used to master nature - and that ultimately led to their downfall as that same technology led to a mass extinction. Considering that we today face similar problems I think we can learn an awful lot from the descendants of Clovis.
 

royal744

Ad Honoris
Jul 2013
10,360
San Antonio, Tx
#29
Your podcasts are very entertained and well informed, also you give them your personal touch, that's nice.

I don't want to focuse on mistakes, because they are few and I appreciate your general analysis. But let me point something:

"Tariq, an Arab leader..." Tariq was Berber as his army, Musa was Arab, as his army. The dichotomy Berber-Arab is very important to understand Al-Andalus.

"Principality of Asturias", kingdom. And don't forget the Frankish March to the east, but that's of lesser importance to the oceanic expansion.

Don't say Andalusia and Andalusian, it was Al-Andalus. I don't know in English, but in this case in Spanish the adjective is "Andalusí", maybe "Andalusi" in English?

Very nice accounting of the Umayyad. Excellent that you point to gold and slaves as the original purpose of the Iberian oceanic expansion. I hope to listen more later. Specially about the Canary Islands.
Gibraltar’s real name was “Jebel Al-Tariq”, Tariq being the Tunisian Berber mentioned above.
 
Dec 2012
1,130
Savannah, GA
#30
Hello all! I wanted to let everyone know I've got a couple new episodes out. Lighting the Sacred Fires is an episode that details the Pre-Columbian history of North America and Blood Oath is a 6 hour epic telling of the histories of the Maya, Aztec, and more - including what I think is a really great bit of information about human sacrifice (you can go ahead and skip to around hour 5 if that's all you want to hear - but it is definitely worth it). Human sacrifice is a very complex issue - or at least more complex to me than when I started my research. Archaeologists have found clear evidence of sacrificial victims who don't seem to have gone willingly - for example the Maya used to toss people into sacred, water-filled caves called cenotes - and one which was excavated yielded about 200 skeletons and many of these had skull fractures or broken noses - so many people seem to have been hit on the head and then tossed in the cave - YIKES! But on the other hand, the Aztecs (and presumably all Mesoamerican societies) had a concept called Ixiptla in Nahuatl which means voluntary sacrifice. I argue at the end of the episode that many people - maybe even someone just like you - could be made into Ixiptla - to be not a victim of human sacrifice but a willing participant. If you want to hear how then please check out the show!

I also want to say that before I started I had no idea how "commercialized" the Pre-Columbian Americas were. They weren't of course a capitalist place - there was no wage labor and land was not generally speaking a commodity that could be bought or sold - but I am really fascinated by the various monetary systems that existed. The Aztecs in particular had a very well defined monetary system that included gold dust, cacao beans, and strips of cotton cloth. The Aztecs kept slaves for a variety of purposes - female slaves in particular seem to have been generally put to use weaving and spinning cotton - literally making money for their masters. Slaves could also be bought and sold - and far more were put to work than were sacrificed. But they weren't generally engaged in agricultural work which I found interesting.

I've attached a link to Soundcloud that's where I host the podcast but of course you can listen on iTunes, Spotify, Google, Stitcher, etc.

I of course would love to hear your thoughts!

https://soundcloud.com/atlanticworld
 

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