Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/46

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Western Sahara—were called "Guineos." Hitherto the Portuguese and Spaniards had purchased blacks from the Moors; by navigating the African coast they hoped to procure them at first hand, and largely by the direct process of kidnapping.

While we know nothing of any voyages made by the Moors to Bilad Ghana, and very little of the expeditions of the Genoese explorers who followed them, we possess tolerably full accounts of the Portuguese voyages from their beginning; and these accounts leave us in no doubt that the nature and object of the earliest series of expeditions were those above indicated. The slave-traders of Barbary, until the capture of Ceuta by the Portuguese in 1415, may have occasionally supplemented their supply of slaves obtained through inland traffic, by voyages to the Canary Islands, made for the purpose of carrying off the Guanche natives. Probably they also frequented the ports and roadsteads on the Barbary coast outside the Straits. But the possession of Ceuta enabled the Portuguese to gain a command of the Atlantic which the Moors were not in a position to contest. Dom Henrique, Iffante of Portugal, and third surviving son of King Joao I, by Philippa of Lancaster, sister of Henry IV, King of England, became Governor of Ceuta, in the capture of which he had taken part, and conceived the plan of forming a "Greater Portugal1" by colonising the Azores and the islands of the Madeira group, all recently discovered, or rediscovered, by the Genoese, and conquering the "wealthy land" which lay beyond the dreary shore of the Sahara. The latter part of this project, commenced by the Iffante about 1426, involved an outlay which required to be compensated by making some pecuniary profit; and with a view to this Dom Henrique subsequently resolved to embark in the slave-trade, the principal commerce carried on by the Moors, over inland routes, with the Soudan and Bilad Ghana. Having given his slave-hunters a preliminary training, by employing them in capturing Guanches in the Canary Islands, he commissioned them in 1434 to pass Cape Bojador and make similar raids on the sea-board of the Sahara. The hardy hybrid wanderers of the desert proved more difficult game than the Guanches. For the purpose of running them down, horses were shipped with the slave-hunters, but the emissaries of the Iffante still failed to secure the intended victims. Vainly, says the chronicler, did they explore the inlet of the Rio do Ouro, and the remoter one of Angra de Cintra " to see if they could make capture of any man, or hunt down any woman or boy, whereby the desire of their lord might be satisfied." In default of slaves, they loaded their vessels with the skins and oil of seals. This poor traffic was scarcely worth pursuing, and for several years (1434-41) the project of conquering Bilad Ghana and annexing it to the Portuguese Crown remained in abeyance.

Yet Dom Henrique was not a mere slave-trader. The capture of slaves was destined to subserve a greater purpose-the conversion of