Friday, June 25, 2010


The Songhai Empire, also known as the Songhay Empire, was considered one of the greatest dynasties of all time. It dates back to as early as the 9th century and lasted up through the 16th century. Over hundreds of years many rulers ruled over the Songhai Empire, but two are seen as the great rulers who brought Songhai to its greatest power and to be known as the largest empire ever. These rulers were Sunni Ali Ber and his successor, also his son, Abu Bakr Dao who later became known as King Askia Mohammed.

Ruling from 1464 to 1492, Sunni Ali Ber began the expansion of the Songhai Empire. During the beginning of Sunni Ali's rule the Mali Empire had begun to break up into small states which led Sunni Ali to take advantage of the situation and begin to conquer these weak areas. His empire continued to grow so he began to divide it into provinces. He then chose his greatest war chiefs to govern over these areas. Sunni Ali's reign came to an end in 1492 due to his strange drowning on the way back from an expedition.

Following Sunni Ali's rule was his son Abu Bakr Dao who ruled from 1493 to 1528. Early in his reign he took a pilgrimage to Mecca where the Sharif of Mecca gave him the name Askia Mohammed. He then was no longer known as Abu Bakr Dao but as King Askia. During King Askia's name he followed in his father's footsteps and continued to conquer the rest of the Mali Empire's territories and more. He also added a system of schooling where students were taught on the basis of the Islamic religion. Also during this time trade became an active role in Songhai's economy. With an expanding empire Songhai needed to continue to have a strong army, thus, the trade continued to grow.

In 1528 King Askia was removed from office and exiled by his successor and own son. The kings who ruled after 1528 were either assasinated or exiled. In 1595 the Songhai Empire was completely destroyed and under the reign of Morrocco. To this day the empire is known as one of the largest empires in history.

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