Songhai Empire

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Foundation: 1447-1586 (T91-T132)Dead.gif
Capital: Timbuktu
Religion: Islam

By Rob Pierce


This African empire controlled most of the upper Niger river valley for most of it's history. It's primary rivals were the Ifen Empire to the east, and the Berber Emirate to the north. The nomadic A'ir tribes proved to be their most dangerous neighbors, however, when they poured out of the desert in 1470. Subsequent efforts to negotiate and subjugate the nomads led to an Ifen backed war in which the A'ir general Bahir successfully conquered the Songhai. His Songhay Empire went on to survive a Danish invasion of the Atlantic coastline (c.1550), but untimately fell, in 1586, to Aztec armies that built the Viceroyalty of New Mexico.

Warning! This is not the historical Songhai Empire. See [1] for information on the Songhai.

The History:

(unknown prior to T91)

Samos II passed on in 1450 (T91) to no national distress. He was succeeded as emperor by his son Samos III (1450-1458).

In 1454 (T92), the city of Katar was founded in Segu, and El Khindara was founded in Awlil. Galam, Ghana, and Segu were populated with loyal subjects after the original inhabitants were shipped off to build roads from Ghana to Segu to Songhai. An army attempted to subjugate the coastal tribes of Idjil, Wadan, and Adwaghast and was crushed by the defenders. The nomads retaliated in 1458 (T93) and besiged El Khindara. Samos gathered his forces in Ghana and drove out the beseigers, but at heavy cost. Regardless, he pursued and bested the Taureg tribes again in Idjil, driving them north. He subsequently died from a pit viper bite and was succeeded by his young son, Samos IV (1458-1478). (The Taureg, for their part, attacked north against the Berber capital of Fez in 1462 (T94). They were defeated by the emirate army and the survivors dissolved into the desert.)

Samos IV was presented a unique opportunity with the onset of the French Civil War in Europe. By 1466 (T95), deals were struck and the young emperor purchased Susu, Temne, and Kru from the Capetians. Ife protested repeatedly, but there was little they could do.

Interfering in the Berber Emirate
In 1470 (T96) the Prince of Boure had been ordered north against the Berbers. That expedition failed when Emir Hussien demolished the invaders outside of Fez. Samos was not to be deterred, however. He financed a rebellion in Taghaza that erupted shortly after he died in 1478 (T98) (the revolt was swiftly crushed). It would prove to be the last time Songhai emperors would look north with dreams of conquest.

The A'ir Nomads
At the same time that the Prince of Boure was invading the Berbers (1470), nomads from the eastern desert of A'ir poured out of the desert to beseige the oasis city of Anefis in Tadmeka. The Songhai army sent to relieve the siege was ambushed and wiped out to a man, but the city continued to hold out against the nomads. A second relief army was sent to relieve Anefis in 1474 (T97) which was ambushed just as easily as the first had been. The occupants of the city despaired at ever getting relief and surrendered to the A'ir who then sacked the city before moving on to threaten Timbuktu. Proper fortifications at the capital permitted Samos IV to destroy the interlopers and recover the loot taken from Anefis. Tadmeka was recovered and Anefis rebuilt.

In 1482 (T99), the second of two diplomats sent by Samos V (1478-1486) to A'ir (the first sent on 1478 had been murdered) was held for a substantial ransom.

(While to the southeast the fortress-city of Akar was raised in Zerma just in time to see the Ife conquer neighboring Oyo)

Samos decided not to pay the A'ir ransom, but instead conquer and subjugate the frustrating tribe once and for all. To that end, in 1486 (T100) the army moved in for the kill, expecting to face what was left of the A'ir, and their cousins of Kanuri. Unfortunately the Dazans and Bilmans had joined the A'ir cause thanks to sufficient prodding by Ifen agents. The resulting battle proved to be a crushing defeat for the Songhai, and the nomads pressed their advantage marching immediately to face the walls of Timbuktu once again. Ifen troops, having planned for just such events, marched to join the nomads at Timbuktu, crushing a small Songhai army in Zerma along the way. The combined nomad-Ifen force dismembered the defending forts and sacked the jeweled capital. Samos V died in the carnage, as did the Ifen emperor Dorhzai VII.

With both emperors dead, chaos erupted throughout both empires. In the west, Krastilius succeeded Samos as emperor, but faced the loss of the entire Atlantic coast (save Awlil), and Mossi, Sokoto and Hausa in the east, leaving 5 to 6 regions in his control. In the center, the A'ir General Bahir declared himself Sultan of Ifriqa ("comprising" both Songhai and Ife) and retained control of 4 regions including Timbuktu. In the east, the Ifen General Hoka claimed power after fighting his way back to the sacked capital of Brass, but faced the loss of the entirety of the Ifen southern possesions beyond Kongo (nearly half the nation).

In the immediate years that followed (1490, T101), Bahir concentrated on recovering the old Songhai eastern possesions, while Ife's Hoka I consolidated his control of the Gold Coast up through Susu. Krastilius died and was succeeded by Axaraean, while Hoka was assasinated by a Songhai agent. By 1494 (T102), Bahir and Hoka II had moved to parcel out what remained of old Songhai. Bahir advanced by land toward the Atlantic and captured Dogamba, Gurma, Jenne, Niani, Ghana, and Segu, while Hoka II's armys, also in the west, captured the gold mines of Boure, and the Atlantic port city in Awlil. With the capture of Axaraean and the Songhai capital in 1498 (T103), Bahir changed the name of his empire to Songhay.

In 1502 (T104), Bahir sent Prince Gath up the western coast to subjugate Idjil. As in prior attempts by prior emperors the nomads annihilated the invaders. (Surprisingly enough, Lybian troops using Syrian cannon were able to subjugate the same Taureg tribes just a few years later (1505, T105)). The next thirty years were devoted to rebuilding and stabilizing the shattered empire. Regions were diplomicized (Tadmeka went friendly in 1520, and Galam in 1523) or repopulated (Galam and Kanuri in 1508). Other regions were abandoned (Mossi, A'ir, Dogamba, and Gurma in 1514, Arguin in 1517), revolted (Hausa in 1517), or were granted away (Adwaghast and Walata to Lybia in 1520). Adawara and Tadmeka had turned cultivated 20 years prior, in 1482. Timbuktu was rebuilt in 1502, Gao built in Sudan in 1508 (T106), and Atani in Kurfei in 1517 (T109). Roads were extended to Gao in 1517, and thence to Atani in 1520 (T110).

In 1532 (T114), Ifen diplomats convinced Hausa to bolt Songhay for that empire, provoking sabre-rattling on the part of Songhay generals. But, by 1538 (T116), Ife ceded the west coast region of Awlil to Songhay in reparation, and the issue died.

Danish West Africa
(The Danes invade at Takrur somtime between T118 and T122)

New Mexico
While Magaherda IV of Ife was battling with Danish invaders in Susu, he was also courting Sultan Shir-abdul-Mugal (???-1560) for a daughter to wed. After repeated rebuffs from the Sultan, Magaherda married a Kongo princess instead (1557, T123). When the Sultan passed away in 1560, he left the throne to his 4-year-old grandson Kal-Ar-Shin. The boy's mother, Empress Ayesha ruled as regent.

The Dano-Ife war continued, with increasing Danish success until 1566 (T126) when an Aztec & British fleet captured the Canaries, Cape Verde, and Takrur from the DWA (?). When in 1569 (T127) the Aztecs suffered a spate of power plays for the imperial throne, the West African legions revolted and reformed as the Viceroyalty of New Mexico. This did not slow down any of the fighting however, and the now independent New Mexican troops overran Susu, Temne, Ghana, and Niani, and occupied Boure. Boure and Kru fell by 1572 (T128), completing the elimination of the Danes from West Africa. Both Songhay and Ife continued arming in the face of this new threat.

In 1575 (T129), Sultan Kal-Ar-Shin attained his majority and took over the reigns of power from his mother. He immediately raised new troops and foolishly attacked Ife, completely ignoring the New Mexican threat. One army marched south and overran Zerma, Sokoto, both of their cities, Nupe, and was left besiging Axa. A second army dashed east through Sokoto to overrun Hausa, Kano, and Kanem-Bornu and beseiged Ngazargamu. The Ifen troops on the New Mexican frontier were immediately recalled and met the Songhay at Axa. Spears faced arquebruses and pikes, and the Songhay would have been slaughtered save that the Ifen commander was killed by a stray musketball.

The New Mexicans wasted no time (1578, T130) in making the most of the confusion and promptly invaded Songhay marching all the way to Timbuktu, which they captured. Ifen counterattacks into Nupe relieved the seige of Axa, but Ngazargamu fell to the Songhay beseigers. By 1581 (T131), the Songhay had begun to abandon the defense of their Ifen conquests and counterattacked into their capital, while sending a cavalry screen beyond into Jenne. Both attacks failed despite inflicting severe casulaties on the New Mexicans. The New Mexicans pressed their advantage in 1586 (T132) and swamped Bani, Mossi, Sudan, and their cities, while the Ife reclaimed Kanem-Bornu, Garoul, Kurfei, and ???, and their cities. Kar-Al-Shin was captured by Ifen troops in Akar where he had been seeking refuge from the New Mexicans. With his internment in the high tower of Brass's Olokon, the Songhay state came to an end.

NewsFax Entries:

1447-1450 (T91)

Songhai: Diplomacy: None
Trade Partners: (8.5C) Berbers, Ife, Papacy, Sweden, France, Iberia

The Songhai continued to relax in the sun with a cool drink. The passing of Samos was unremarked by the general populace.

1451-1454 (T92)

Songhai: Diplomacy: None
Trade Partners: (11.5C) Berbers, Ife, Papacy, Sweden, France, Iberia

The Songhai woke up and engaged in a frenzy of public projects. A city, Katar, was raised in Segu and immediately connectedby highway to Timbuktu. That section of Imperial Highway was then pushed on into Ghana. Another city was raised in Awlil, called El Khindara. The populations of Galam, Ghana, and Segu were enslaved by the Songhai and their lands resettled with loyal Songhai. The resultant slaves were expended on the new roads. An attempt by the Songhai to expand northwards into the regions occupied by the Taureg (Idjil, Wadan, and Adwaghast) met with serious resistance and the Songhai army was ambushed by the Taureg and annihilated.

1455-1458 (T93)

Songhai: Diplomacy: Ambassador killed by the Wadan. Sudan(a)
Trade Partners: (11.5C) Berbers, Ife, Papacy, Sweden, France, Iberia

A Songhai explorer travelled to Franco-Inca and returned, bearing good tidings and rutters of the route. The western frontier of the Songhai came under attack by some 100,000 Taureg under the command of the Pasha of Wadan. This nomadic host marched out of the desert and beseiged the city of El Khindara in Awlil. While they did so, the Emperor and his field armies massed in Ghana and then moved in to lift the seige. The ensuing campaign lasted half a year before the Taureg were driven back into Idjil. Losses were heavy on both sides.

1459-1462 (T94)

Songhai: Diplomacy: Oyo(t)
Trade Partners: (11.5C) Berbers, Ife, Papacy, Sweden, Angevin France, Iberia, Capetian France, New France [11C]

Samos III, deciding that the Taureg were far too dangerous to leave unmolested north of the border, led a great expedition against them. At the head of his armies, he pressed north into Idjil, where the Taureg were waiting. A number of battles were fought, and the Taureg were once more bested by the Songhai phalanxes. Driven from Idjil, whose tribes made peace with Songhai, the Taureg moved north in search of easier prey... Samos III died of a pit viper bite while on campaign, however, and was succeeded to the throne by his nephew, who also took the name Samos.

1463-1466 (T95)

Songhai: Diplomacy: The Adwaghast sent back an emissary in three waterskins. Susu(t)
Trade Partners: (12.5C) Berbers, Ife, Papacy, Sweden, Angevin France, Iberia, Gascony, New France [11C], England

The Songhai declared that the Capetian French had ceded them the regions of Susu, Temne, and Kru. The Ife were not pleased by this. A Songhai ambassador was sent off to visit the greatest country in the world [Azteca presumably?].

Ife: A large Ifen army and fleet arrived off of Conakry and found the Songhai in possesion of the region. They fumed, but took no action ... yet.

1467-1470 (T96)

Songhai: Diplomacy: Kru(t), the Tamaranset had great fun putting a Songhai leader to death by torture.
Trade Partners: (12.5C) Ife, Papacy, Sweden, Angevin France, Iberia, Gascony, New France [5C], England

Songhai forces bludgeoned the Temne into submission. The border watch on the frontier with the A'ir tribes was disturbed one morning by the thunder of hooves as another gang of nomads decided to have a go at the Songhai. The nomads swept through Tadmeka and surrounded the oasis-city of Anefis. Samos and his advisors decided that this was not to be borne and marched north with the home army to relieve the city. General M'Karri led 42,000 men north against the 120,000 A'irese nomads - who ambushed him in the wastes near the town of Bakhti. The Songhai infantry was demolished by the nomad riders and M'Karri and his legion were wiped out. The city remained stalwart, however, and the nomads continue to beseige it.

While M'Karri was getting his forces annihilated, the Prince of Boure was marching north as well - into Merrakesh. That land proved to be undefended by the Berbers and the Prince continued north into Morocco, where the Berber army finally showed up. There, in the hills before the gates of Fez, the Berber host, led by Emir Hussien himself, bested the Songhai army and slew the Prince of Boure. None of the 25,000 Bourese troops returned to their homeland. Merrakesh was liberated by the Berbers.

1471-1474 (T97)

Songhai: Diplomacy: None
Trade Partners: (13C) Ife, Papacy, Sweden, Angevin France, Iberia, Gascony, New France [5C], England

Under the enlightened direction of the Emperor, a new legion was raised and sent to relieve the seige of Anefis. This force, under Legate Makar, numbered some 52,000 men (mostly mercenaries). Upon its arrival at Anefis, the A'ir tribesmen once again attempted to ambush the relief column in the desert wastes. Once again the tribesmen succeeded in mauling the Songhai hosts - but this time they added Legate Makar to their bag (capturing him in a fight near the Oasis of White Stones) and seeing to the death of Prefect Gashar in the fighting. The remains of the legion retreated to Timbuktu, where the emperor was in a rage. Anefis, meanwhile, surrendered to the A'ir. The people were spared, but the city was sacked and the A'ir headed south for Timbuktu. Once within the Songhai realm, however, the nomads were at a disadvantage, and Emperor Samos' personal legion and the defenses of the region proved sufficient to lure the nomads into a trap and destroy them. In the wake of this victory, the Emperor saw to the reclamation of Tademeka province and the reconstruction of Anefis. Legate Makar was rescued from durance vile and roundly chewed out by the Emperor.

Ife: The Oyese chased off an Ifen probe.

1475-1478 (T98)

Berbers: In home affairs, an abortive rebellion in Taghaza (backed by the Songhai) was crushed by vigilant BEOS agents.

Tezcatlipan: In a footnote, the Swedes rounded up a number of Songhai spies active in and around Tezcatlipan in the mopping up after the victory.

Songhai: Diplomacy: A Songhai leader sent to treat with the A'ir was foully murdered. Senufo(t). Similarly the Chief of the Walata was killed by the Adwaghasti.
Trade Partners: (13C) Ife, Papacy, Sweden, Angevin France, Iberia, Gascony, Inca [5C], England

Yet another Emperor died and was replaced by one of the multitude of brothers and uncles attendant upon the court. Walata abandoned the Empire after the death of their chieftan. The northern tribes remain staunchly anti-Songhai.

Ife: The Ife made another foray into Oyo, but the natives turned them back once more.

1479-1482 (T99)

Songhai: Diplomacy: Walata(t), Sokoto(f), Kru(a).
Trade Partners: (13.5C) Papacy, Sweden, Iberia, Gascony, Inca [15C], England, Denmark

The Songhai raised a new fortress-city, Akar, in Zerma. The old Follet Armsworks factory at Susu was dismantled and moved to Timbuktu. A Songhai fleet snooped around the Cape Verde Islands, determined that the Danes were in residence there and then left. Adawara and Tadmeka became cultivated. A Songhai leader sent to treat with the A'ir was seized and is being held for ransom (20gp and a promise never to bother the A'ir or the Kanuri ever again).

Ife: 15,000 Ifen troops invaded and conquered Oyo, causing the Songhai some considerable excitement. The Ifen fleet made a show of force off of Temne.

The Emperors

  • Kar-Al-Shin 1560-1586 (b 1556)
  • Shir-abdul-Mugal 1535-1560
  • Bahir al-Mohhamed 1498-1535
  • Axaraean 1490-1498
  • Krastilius 1486-1490
  • Samos V 1478-1486
  • Samos IV 1458-1478
  • Samos III 1450-1458
  • Samos II ???-1450

The Players

  • T131-T132 (1581-1586) Matthew Redekop
  • T129-T130 (1575-1580) Matthew Redekop
  • T128 (1572-1574) (open)
  • T124-T127 (1560-1571) Carole Lipski
  • T123 (1557-1559) (open)
  • T118-T122 (1542-1556) (unknown)
  • T116-T117 (1536-1541) Mark Cornell
  • T111-T115 (1521-1535) (open)
  • T106-T110 (1506-1520) Mark Cornell
  • T105 (1503-1505) (open)
  • T103-T104 (1495-1502) Bill Fisher
  • T91-T102 (1447-1494) Tim Hruby
  • T??-T90 (????-1446) (unknown)

Last updated: 17 October 2002

© 2002 Robert Pierce

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