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The Social And Economic Stability Of The Western Sudan In The Middle Ages

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Chapter Summary

It is well known that African social and economic structures remained stable from an early date until the twentieth century. This chapter discusses certain questions concerning the states of the western Sudan during the later Middle Ages. States which achieved a level of development in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, beyond which they were unable to advance before the Moroccan invasion of 1591, which began a decline that lasted several centuries. The chapter presents some analogies with eastern European countries, which during the eleventh and twelfth centuries were at more or less the same level of economic development as the western Sudan two centuries later. It attempts to pinpoint those elements of social and economic progress and more particularly of stagnation which were to be found in Mali and its successor state, Songhai. Finally, the general discussion on economic incentives in primitive societies is presented.

Keywords: economic structures; middle ages; social structures; western Sudan



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