‘None could stand before him in the battle, none ever reigned so wisely as he’
The expansion and significance of violence in early modern
in A global history of early modern violence

This chapter examines the ways in which cultures and practices of violence in Africa altered between the sixteenth and the nineteenth centuries. It discusses these shifts in the context of both external and internal dynamics, and argues that while in some areas endogenous state-building projects led to an increase in levels of violence, the overriding driver of violence during this period was the global encounter. Trade and – in a handful of areas – settlement engendered new zones of violent exchange, and shifts in the understanding and deployment of violence. At the same time, warfare expanded in scale and impact as the result of global exchange. The chapter also reflects on the ways in which such violence has been (mis)remembered in the more recent past, and on distorted interpretations of precolonial history more broadly.

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