When a ‘Governor’ is ‘King’: The Songoj of Nobadia in Nubia

Adam Simmons

The Songoj of Nobadia in northern Nubia was amongst the most powerful officials in the Nubian kingdom of Dotawo. As ‘governor’ of northern Nubia in the region bordering Egypt, he oversaw political and economic affairs of both regional concern and those with Egypt. No other Songoj in the kingdom appears to have held such a powerful influence. The holder of the office is often referred to as the ‘Lord of the Mountain’ in external Arabic sources, which, while acknowledging he was subject to the Nubian ourou, clearly portray this office as the de facto ruler who most concerned those in Egypt. This paper wishes to further explore the nature of comparative African ‘kingship’ and ‘nobility’ and the limitations of terminology.

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    Adam Simmons

    Adam Simmons is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at Nottingham Trent University. His research focuses on African regional and inter-regional connectivity between the fourth and sixteenth centuries, particularly concerning Nubia, Ethiopia, and Kongo. He has published on a range of topics to date, including the relationship between Nubia, Ethiopia, and the crusading world (Routledge, 2022), the Nubian king in Constantinople in 1203 (Medieval Encounters, 2022), the Kongolese adoption of crusading ideology (Historical Journal, 2022), Nubian diasporas (Dotawo, 2019), and the changing image of Nubians in Old French crusader songs (Croisades en Afrique, ed. B. Weber, 2019).