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African Kingdoms, c.1400-c.1800

1. Introduction

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About this Lecture


This module forms an introduction to the course as a whole, focusing in particular on some of the themes that we will encounter as we move through the course, as well as the key differences between studying the history of western African compared to those periods with which you may be more familiar.


In this course, Dr Toby Green (King's College, London) explores the history of four West African kingdoms in the period c.1400-1800. After a broad introduction to West African history as a whole and some of the ways in which it differs from European history, the second, third, fourth and fifth modules each explore a different kingdom via a particular question. First, we think about the Mali and Songhai Empires and ask the extent to which the religion Islam contributed to their strength. After that, we turn to the Kingdom of Kongo and think about why the kingdom collapsed after the Battle of Mbwila in 1665. Third, we think about the kingdoms of Oyo and Dahomey and ask what characterised the relationship between these two neighbouring kingdoms. And finally, we move on to the Kingdom of Benin and think about what we learn about Benin history from the Benin Bronzes.

Additional resources:
– To learn more about the A Level option 'African Kingdoms, c.1400–c.1800' from OCR, check out the official website. There is also a free accompanying e-book. [Both links open in new tab/window.]


Toby Green is Senior Lecturer in Lusophone African History and Culture at King's College, London. After studying Philosophy, Toby worked as a writer and editor, publishing various books that have been translated into 12 languages. He then studied for his PhD at the Centre of West African Studies at Birmingham University, working with the Brazilian specialist on Timbuktu and Songhay Paulo de Moraes Farias and completing in 2007, before coming to King's in 2010.

After holding fellowships from the British Academy and the Leverhulme Trust, in 2015 he was recipient of a British Academy Rising Star Engagement Award, for which he organised an interdisciplinary workshop with the musicologist Lucy Duran of SOAS, bringing musicians and historians from West Africa into dialogue.

His recent publications include Brokers of Change: Atlantic Commerce and Cultures in Pre-Colonial Western Africa (2012), The Rise of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade in Western Africa, 1300-1589 (2012), and Guinea-Bissau: From Micro State to ‘Narco State’ (2016),

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Green, T. (2018, August 15). African Kingdoms, c.1400-c.1800 - Introduction [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Green, T. "African Kingdoms, c.1400-c.1800 – Introduction." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018,