Ancient Ghana and Mali by Nehemia Levtzion

By Nehemia Levtzion

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T and Stuart Schwartz, Early Latin America: A Hzstory of Coloma/ Spamsh Amenca and Brazzl (Cambridge, 1983), pp. 25)-304. 118 Africans in Africa winds and currents of the Atlantic, had established a system of navigation that bound Europe, Africa, and the Americas into a single system of commerce. European rulers and the more powerful of their subjects h ad come to see the system as being of great significance and holding potential for wealth and were well on their way to wresting political and economic control away from the pioneers who had created it.

Such an interpretation is supported by the correlation between Atlantic exploration and the fall of Acre, the last outpost of direct European commercial relations with the eastern Mediterranean, which passed into Moslem hands in 1291. 4s Of all the economic possibilities that might provide motives for Atlan/ tic navigation, however, the prospect of a short route to the West Afric~n / goldfields seems the most likely. The Indies, after all, were ~ar away m !..... anyone's conception of world geography, whereas West A~nca, known to be wealthy in gold, was much closer and clearly access1ble by a sea route.

243-5. The birth of an Atlantic world struggle between Christians and Moslems for control of the Mediterranean world. Henrique's principal desire, according to Zurara, was his wish to defeat the North African Moslems, and economic considerations were secondary. Js Zurara was expressing a long-held hope of Christians in Iberia. Writers and visionaries living in the period before the voyages sponsored by Infante Henrique had proposed several schemes to outflank the Moslems in one way or another. J9 Since 1306, when an Ethiopian delegation had arrived in Europe seeking a Ch ristian alliance with the "King of the Spains," to "offer him aid against the infidels,"4° the idea of an Iberian-Ethiopian connection had been considered.

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