Meantime great things were happening in the world beyond the desert, the ocean, and the Nile. Arabian Mohammedanism had succumbed to the wild fanaticism of the Seljukian Turks. These new conquerors were not only firmly planted at the gates of Vienna, but had swept the shores of the Mediterranean and sent all Europe scouring the seas for their lost trade connections with the riches of India. Religious zeal, fear of conquest, and commercial greed inflamed Europe against the Mohammedan and led to the discovery of a new world, the riches of which poured first on Spain. Oppression of the Moors followed, and in 1502 they were driven back into Africa, despoiled and humbled. Here the Spaniards followed and harassed them and here the Turks, fighting the Christians, captured the Mediterranean ports and cut the Moors off permanently from Europe. In the slow years that followed, huddled in Northwest Africa, they became a decadent people and finally cast their eyes toward Negroland.
The Moors in Morocco had come to look upon the Sudan as a gold mine, and knew that the Sudan was especially dependent upon salt. In 1545 Morocco claimed the principal salt mines at Tegazza, but the reigning Askia refused to recognize the claim.
When the Sultan Elmansour came to the throne of Morocco, he increased the efficiency of his army by supplying it with fire arms and cannon. Elmansour determined to attack the Sudan and sent four hundred men under Pasha Djouder, who left Morocco in 1590. The Songhay, with their bows and arrows, were helpless against powder and shot, and they were defeated at Tenkadibou April 12, 1591. Askia Ishak, the king, offered terms, and Djouder Pasha referred them to Morocco. The sultan, angry with his general’s delay, deposed him and sent another, who crushed and treacherously murdered the king and set up a puppet. Thereafter there were two Askias, one under the Moors at Timbuktu and one who maintained himself in the Hausa states, which the Moors could not subdue. Anarchy reigned in Songhay. The Moors tried to put down disorder with a high hand, drove out and murdered the distinguished men of Timbuktu, and as a result let loose a riot of robbery and decadence throughout the Sudan. Pasha now succeeded pasha with revolt and misrule until in 1612 the soldiers elected their own pasha and deliberately shut themselves up in the Sudan by cutting off approach from the north.
Hausaland and Bornu were still open to Turkish and Mohammedan influence from the east, and the Gulf of Guinea to the slave trade from the south, but the face of the finest Negro civilization the modern world had ever produced was veiled from Europe and given to the defilement of wild Moorish soldiers. In 1623 it is written “excesses of every kind are now committed unchecked by the soldiery,” and “the country is profoundly convulsed and oppressed." The Tuaregs marched down from the desert and deprived the Moors of many of the principal towns. The rest of the empire of the Songhay was by the end of the eighteenth century divided among separate Moorish chiefs, who bought supplies from the Negro peasantry and were “at once the vainest, proudest, and perhaps the most bigoted, ferocious, and intolerant of all the nations of the south." They lived a nomadic life, plundering the Negroes. To such depths did the mighty Songhay fall.