African royalty books: Abyssinia, Angola, Benin

The format of these lists made more sense with the layout of the old version of the World of Royalty website! If things seem omitted or out of order, there may be a separate blog post coming to cover whatever is missing. For instance, this is an A through B topic list, but Botswana is omitted because there's a separate post to follow for that.

In some cases I may update this post later with other titles, including fiction or children's books that were originally listed elsewhere on the site. It will take me time to work through everything.

Unless otherwise noted, these books are for sale at Your purchase through these links will result in a commission for the owner of the site.


The Stolen Prince: Gannibal, Adopted Son of Peter the Great, Great-Grandfather of Alexander Pushkin, and Europe's First Black Intellectual by Hugh Barnes. In the spring of 1703, a seven-year-old African boy stepped off a slave ship in Constantinople. He claimed to be a prince of Abyssinia. Rescued by Tsar Peter the Great, he became Abram Petrovich Gannibal and founded a dynasty in Russia.


Njinga of Angola: Africa's Warrior Queen by Linda M. Heywood. The first full-length study in English of the multifaceted 17th century queen who waged wars against Portuguese colonizers and their African allies.

Historical Dictionary of Angola by W. Martin James. Over 500 entries on significant persons, places, and events in Angola's history. Includes a detailed chronology, maps, and an introductory essay.


Benin: Royal Arts of a West African Kingdom by Kathleen Bickford Berzock. Images of bronze figures, wall plaques, ivory tusks, pendants, and more. An essay outlines the kingdom's history and the function of artworks in the royal court.

Palace Sculptures of Abomey: History Told on Walls by Francesca Pique and Leslie H. Rainer. This book tells the history of the Dahomey kingdom and includes beautiful color photographs of bas-reliefs on palace walls.

Amazons of Black Sparta: The Women Warriors of Dahomey by Stanley B. Alpern.


Colonial Histories, Postcolonial Memories: The Legend of the Kahina, a North African Heroine by Abdelmajid Hannoum. Queen Kahina, a Jewish priestess who became ruler of the Berbers in Northern Africa, fought off Arab invaders. It is said that she had 400 husbands.

The Berbers by Michael Brett. Illustrated.


Historical Dictionary of Burundi by Ellen K. Eggers. Includes entries on important national figures, plus a chronology, bibliography, and detailed introduction.

The Great Lakes of Africa: Two Thousand Years of History by Jean-Pierre Chretien, translated by Scott Straus. This historical account of the Great Lakes region of Eastern Africa — which encompasses Burundi, eastern Congo, Rwanda, western Tanzania, and Uganda — retraces the formation of kingdoms and describes their complex social and political organization.

Burundi: Ethnic Conflict and Genocide by Rene Lemarchand. Describes and analyzes the wholesale massacre of the Hutu majority by the Tutsi minority.

Note: This list has been copied over from the old World of Royalty website, and some links may not broken now. The book lists have not been updated since mid-2023, but if new/important titles are missing, feel free to leave a comment below.

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