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Of Clerics and Concubines

Of Clerics and Concubines

(p.258) Chapter Eleven Of Clerics and Concubines
African Dominion
Michael A. Gomez
Princeton University Press

This chapter argues that while the religious leaders of Timbuktu and Jenne enjoyed unrivaled prestige, there were other actors who, though receiving scant attention in the secondary materials, were nonetheless significant figures. Specifically, holy men associated with the Mori Koyra community played influential roles, as did royal women, including, and especially, the royal concubines. Indeed, women were a critical component of the askia's strategy in realizing an ethnic pluralism that would transform relations between the clan and the state, such that loyalties to the former could be accommodated within the latter. Buoyed by a resurgent economy, stellar scholarship, and the reconfiguration of political fealty, Songhay experienced a new age of cosmopolitanism. With so many accomplishments, it is little wonder Askia Muḥammad is revered as one of the most important leaders in West African history, his policies a template for Muslim reformers for centuries to come.

Keywords:   holy men, Mori Korya, royal women, royal concubines, ethnic pluralism, political fealty, Songhay, cosmopolitanism, Askia Muḥammad, West Africa

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