LEGE NDARY of SONG HAY
| INTRODUCTION | MANSA MUSA | SONGHAY | SILENT TRADE | ISLAM | HOW TO GET TIMBUKTU | HOME |
The Mali leaders after Mansa Musa were much less effective rulers. Timbuktu was raided, and parts of it were burned. In 1433 the Tuaregs regained control of the city they had founded.
Meanwhile another kingdom, the Songhay, was developing. Sunni Ali became the king of Songhay in 1464. Like Sundiata of Mali, he was a fierce warrior who wanted to expand his kingdom. Timbuktu was ripe for the taking! Four years after being king, Sunni Ali gained control of Timbuktu. Although he was a Muslim, he distrusted the scholars and mistreated them. Sunni Ali went on to capture other cities, more interested in territory and trade than in learning and culture.
In 1493, one of the army generals overthrew Sunni Ali's son, who had just become king. His name was Askia Muhammad. He was a devout Moslem, who followed the practices of Islam faithfully. Culture and learning again became of prime importance in the Songhay kingdom, and Timbuktu began its greatest period. With a stable government, trade and learning flourished. Timbuktu became a great center of religion and learning. Scholars from all over the Islamic world came to the Sankore Univeristy, where courses in theology, Islamic law, rhetoric, grammar, and literature were taught.
The king of Timbuktu got many plates and sceptres of gold, some whereof weigh 1300 pounds; and he kept a magnificent and well-furnished court.... There were a great store of doctors, judges, priests and other learned men, that were bountifully maintained at the king's cost and charges. And hither were brought divers manuscripts of written books out of Barbary, which were sold for more money than any other merchandise.
Obviously Askia Muhammad was ruler of a wealthy land, known for its learning as well as its trading. As Mansa Musa had 170 years before, Askia Muhammad made a pilgrimage to Mecca in 1495, returning two years later. His huge caravan and his generosity kept the stories and legends of the riches of the Africans growing. It is told that at this time the city of Timbuktu had a population of one million.
The kingdom of Songhay continued to flourish until 1589. The ambitious Sultan of Morocco wanted control of Wangara gold supply. Armed with gunpowder and firearms, El Mansur had his army cross the Sahara. They captured Timbuktu in 1591 and brought ruin to the Song-hay kingdom. As a historian of the time reported, "From that moment everything changed. Danger took the place of security; poverty of wealth."
The glory of Timbuktu was only now a legend.
| INTRODUCTION | MANSA MUSA | SONGHAY | SILENT TRADE | ISLAM | HOW TO GET TIMBUKTU | HOME
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