African Kingdoms, the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade & the Development of the Atlantic System

  • Jan 1, 1375

    Gao Rebels Against the Malian Empire

    (ignore day and month) Gao, the capital of the Songhai people (built around 800 AD and became capital around 11th century), rebels against its rulers when the succession of emperors in Mali is interrupted.
  • Jan 1, 1410

    Great Zimbabwe Fortifies Its Capital

    Great Zimbabwe Fortifies Its Capital
    (ignore day and month) Because of increased wealth from trade and stability, the rulers of Great Zimbabwe order the construction of a stone walled fortress around the capital for increased protection.
  • Period: Jan 1, 1421 to Jan 1, 1431

    Songhai Rebellions

    (ignore day and month) Following the actions of Gao, the rest of the conquered Songhai begin to to rise up to their weakened Malian rulers to gain back their freedom.
  • Jan 1, 1431

    Malian Empire Falls

    Malian Empire Falls
    (ignore day and month) With the siege of Timbuktu by Tuareg nomads, the rapid collapse of the Malian empire had begun. People located on the outskirts of Malian rule soon broke away with the process moving inward over time. By 1500, Mali had lost the vast majority of its previous conquered lands and its influence was reduced to a tiny area.
  • Jan 1, 1441

    Portuguese Explores Take First African Slaves

    (ignore day and month) Shortly after their exploration of West Africa, Portuguese explorers take the first (12) slaves from Africa after trading with locals.
  • Period: Jan 1, 1444 to Jan 1, 1465

    Rise of the Songhai Empire

    (ignore day and month) With the Malian empire in ruins, the Songhai were free to expand their influence, wealth, and territory through effective military tactics.
  • Jan 1, 1468

    Songhai Conquer Timbuktu

    Songhai Conquer Timbuktu
    (ignore day and month) Three years after their capture of the former Malian province of Mema, Songhai forces, lead by military commander Sunni Ali Ber, defeated the Tuareg to gain Timbuktu who had recently taken the city, the largest in the region at the time. Sunni Ali Ber is considered the first great ruler of the Songhai Empire and helps lead the capture of integral Trans-Saharan trade routes and former Malian cities and provinces.
  • Jan 1, 1492

    Sunni Ali Ber Dies

    (ignore date and month) The cause of death of Sunni Ali Ber is up for debate, yet his sudden passing lead to his son, Sonni Baru, claiming the title of emperor for around a year.
  • Oct 12, 1492

    Columbus Discovers America

    Columbus Discovers America
    Christopher Columbus lands upon the island of San Salvador where he become one of the first Europeans to interact with the natives of the Americas. Though the local Arawaks, Taino, and Lucayan tribes were friendly and welcoming to Columbus and his crew, Columbus used this trait to take advantage of them and ultimately enslaved and abused almost all of the natives (mainly in pursuit of gold and other natural resources).
  • Jan 1, 1493

    Baru Loses the Throne to Toure

    Baru Loses the Throne to Toure
    (ignore day and month) One year after becoming emperor after his late father, Sonni Baru loses the Songhai throne to Askia Muhammad Toure a devout Muslim leading him to establish Sharia law throughout the empire. Additionally, Toure led additional conquests, created a centralized bureaucracy (appointing all the mayors and governors), expanded and built numerous schools throughout the empire, and strengthened relations with the Muslim world.
  • Jan 1, 1502

    First African Slaves Brought to the New World

    First African Slaves Brought to the New World
    (ignore day and month) The Spanish conquistadors bring the first slaves from Africa to the Caribbean after Columbus' discovery in 1492.
  • Jan 1, 1525

    First Slave Voyage from Africa to the Americas

    First Slave Voyage from Africa to the Americas
    (ignore day and month) Portuguese explorers take numerous slaves acquired from trade with African tribes and kingdoms to their newly founded colonies in the Americas (primarily mdoern day Brazil).
  • Period: Jan 1, 1525 to

    12.5 Million African Slaves Shipped to the New World

    (ignore day and month) Around 12.5 million Africans were shipped to the Americas as slaves by European colonists during this timespan.
  • Jan 1, 1528

    Askia Muhammad Toure Dies

    (ignore day and month) The Songhai Empire experiences decades of peace with a smooth succession of emperors following the death of Askia the Great. The cities of Gao, Timbuktu, and Djenne flourish with trade, though most of the Songhai people were small scale farmers whose profits were tied to the agricultural market.
  • Jan 1, 1560

    Slave Trading to Brazil Becomes Common

    Portuguese begin regularly bringing around 2,500-6,000 slaves annually to their main American colony in Brazil.
  • Jan 1, 1562

    Sir John Hawkins Becomes First English Slave Trader

    Sir John Hawkins Becomes First English Slave Trader
    (ignore day and month) Backed by merchants in London, Sir John Hawkins departs Plymouth with three ships and proceeds to trade 300 African slaves with the Portuguese and Spanish for sugar, hides, spices, and pearls.
  • Fall of the Songhai Empire

    Fall of the Songhai Empire
    (ignore day and month) Because of a fierce civil war within the empire, Moroccan Sultan Ahmad I al-Mansur Saadi leads a conquest of the Songhai kingdom in alliance with the Tuareg and are successful due to more advanced weaponry.
  • The Guinea Company is Established

    (ignore day and month) King James I establishes the Guinea Company, the first private company to colonise Africa for profit.
  • Slaves Brought to Virginia by British to Grow Tobacco

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  • Dutch Traders Begin Transporting Slaves

    (ignore day and month) The Dutch begin transporting slaves regularly to their colonies in the Americas. Until then, only the Spanish and Portuguese had been doing so.
  • Plantations in the Caribbean Begin to Export Sugar

    Plantations in the Caribbean Begin to Export Sugar
    (ignore day and month) European plantations begin exporting massive amounts of sugar due to excess of slave labor. The British begin transporting thousands of slaves regularly as well.
  • British Gain Control of Jamaica

    (ignore day and month) British take the Spanish colony of Jamaica from Spain. Sugar profits from the island prove very beneficial to British owners.
  • Moroccans Withdraw from Songhai

    (ignore day and month) Due to frequent rebellions and lack of sufficient resources for their army, the Moroccan Army withdraws from the Songhai region.
  • Reformation of the Royal African Company

    Reformation of the Royal African Company
    (ignore day and month) Following its collapse in 1667, the Royal African Company of Britain is reformed to regulate the English slave trade. By the 1680s, the company is transporting around 5000 slaves per year.
  • France Issues the Code Noir

    France Issues the Code Noir
    (ignore day and month) The French government enacts the Code Noir, a law that decreed how slaves were to be treated in French colonies and restricted the freedoms and privileges of free people of African descent.
  • Britain Becomes The Largest Slave Trading Country

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  • Britain Gains Dominica, Grenada, St Vincent and Tobago

    (ignore day and month) Following victory in the Seven Years' War, Britain gains these Caribbean colonies from the French after the Treaty of Paris.
  • British Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade Founded

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  • Société des Amis des Noirs (Society of the Friends of Blacks)

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  • Period: to

    Haitian Revolution

    (ignore day and month) The slaves of Santo Domingo revolt against the French, who ruled over the island at the time. The revolution ran parallel with the French Revolution at the time, which proved beneficial for the rebels, as the new French government instilled abolished slavery and gave freedom and rights to former slaves. These victories for the rebels ultimately resulted in the foundation of Haiti in 1804.