The gold-salt trade was an exchange of salt for gold between Mediterranean economies and West African countries during the Middle Ages. West African kingdoms, such as the Soninke empire of Ghana and the empire of Mali that succeeded it, were rich in gold but lacked salt, a commodity that countries around the Mediterranean had in plenty. Salt was important for replacing fluids and preserving food in the tropical climate south of the Sahara.Know More
The Soninke empire of Ghana, named the "Land of Gold" by Islamic scholars, is linked with the rise of the trans-Saharan gold trade that began around the fifth century. Countries in North Africa needed gold for coinage, and they got their supply from Berbers who traveled across the Sahara in camel caravans carrying blocks of desert salt. The trade lasted for centuries, and was partially responsible for the introduction of Islam to the Berbers, and consequently West Africa.
The Soninke maintained exclusive control over the gold trade by keeping the location of gold mines a secret. In the 11th century, the empire was strong enough to take over the Berber town of Audaghost, an important terminus along the trade route. However, a century later, new routes bypassed Audoghost and moved toward newer goldfields. The Soninke empire soon lost its domination of the gold trade.
The Mali empire that followed, and the Songhai empire that rose later, continued relying heavily on the gold-salt trade.Learn more about Middle Ages
A knight in the Middle Ages usually lived in a castle or manor. Knights rarely owned their home as their life was centered around the castle or manor of the noble or lord they served.Full Answer >
Nobles in the Middle Ages ranked second on the hierarchical social ladder: kings and queens filled the top spots, while knights, clergy, tradesmen and peasants formed the ladder below nobles. Social mobility in the Middle Ages rarely occurred; nobles, peasants and others generally spent their lives confined to the respective classes of their births. Nobles lived distinct lifestyles, complete with specific tasks, expected behaviors and even styles of dress.Full Answer >
For fun during the Middle Ages, peasants danced, wrestled, bet on cockfighting and bear baiting, and played an early version of football. On Sundays, peasants were allowed to rest and go to church. Some pious peasants undertook pilgrimages to gain God's favor.Full Answer >
The postclassical period in western Europe is the period that began immediately after the end of the Roman Empire (the classical period) and is most often called the Middle Ages or the Medieval Ages. Some scholars prefer to use Medieval Ages instead of the Middle Ages because they believe this makes the time period sound trivial and inconsequential when compared with the classical period and Renaissance period.Full Answer >