Leo Africanus

Leo Africanus (ăfrĭkāˈnəs) [key], c.1465–1550, Moorish traveler in Africa and the Middle East. His Arabic name was Al-Hasan ibn Muhammad. Captured by pirates, he was sent as a slave to Pope Leo X. He became a Christian, adopting the name Johannes Leo, and taught Arabic in Rome. There he wrote in Arabic a description of his journeys in Africa (issued in Italian in 1526), which was for many years the only known source on the Sudan. An English translation (1600) was reissued by the Hakluyt Society as The History and Description of Africa (3 vol., 1896, repr. 1963).

See biography by N. Z. Davis (2006).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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