Great Kingdoms of Africa


An essential overview of great kingdoms in African history and their legacies, written by world-leading experts


ISBN: 9780500252529 Category:


An essential overview of great kingdoms in African history and their legacies, written by world-leading experts.

From the ancient Nile Valley to the savannas of medieval West Africa, the highlands of Ethiopia and on to the forests, lakes and grasslands to the south, African civilizations have given rise to some of the world’s most impressive kingdoms. Yet Africa’s history is often little known beyond the devastation wrought by the slave trade and European colonial rule. In this groundbreaking new book, nine leading historians of Africa take a fresh look at these great kingdoms and empires over five thousand years of recorded history.

How was kingship forged in Africa and how did it operate? Was dynastic power maintained by consent or by coercion? Did kings – and queens – display and project that power for all to see, or did they hide it away, as beneath the fringed crowns that concealed the faces of sacred Yoruba rulers? In what ways have African peoples themselves recorded, celebrated and critiqued the deeds of their kings? Great Kingdoms of Africa explores some of the most important questions in the continent’s deep past.

As elsewhere in the world, absolute monarchy in Africa has been on the wane in the modern era. Yet kingship continues to thrive within many present-day African nations, preserving deep-rooted ideas about culture, identity and sacred power. Presenting exciting developments in the understanding of how states and societies have interacted with each other across time, this book shows how powerful and sophisticated kingdoms have shaped the course of African history – and continue to do so in the present day.

Additional information

Weight 694 g
Dimensions 16.2 x 24.1 cm
Publisher name Thames and Hudson Ltd
Publication date 16 March 2023
Number of pages 336
Format Hardback
Contributors Edited by John Parker, Foreword by David Adjaye
Dimensions 16.2 x 24.1 cm
Weight 694 g


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John Parker taught the History of Africa at SOAS University of London from 1998 to 2020. He is the co-author of African History: A Very Short Introduction (2007), co-editor of The Oxford Handbook of Modern African History (2013), and the author of In My Time of Dying: A History of Death and the Dead in West Africa (2021).