Books about African royalty

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

This is not the whole list of books about African royalty (far from it). Watch for other posts in days to come.

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.

African Royalty

African Kings: Portraits of a Disappearing Era by Daniel Laine. Photographs of current tribal kings, accompanied by brief biographies and historical information.

African States and Rulers by John Stewart is a reference book with over 11,000 entries.

Kingdoms and Chiefdoms of Southeastern Africa: Oral Traditions and History, 1400-1830 by Elizabeth A. Eldredge. The social and political history of early precolonial peoples, including the regions of modern KwaZulu-Natal, Swaziland, southern Mozambique, and Lesotho.

Palaces of Stone: Uncovering Ancient Southern African Kingdoms by Mike Main and Thomas Huffman. Across southern Africa are more than 460 stone palaces built from AD 900 to approximately 1850.

African Royal Court Art by Michele Coquet, translated by Jane Marie Todd presents the court art of Benin, the Congo and Dahomey.

Royal Arts of Africa: The Majesty of Form by Suzanne Preston Blier. An illustrated look at how rulers of kingdoms from West and Central Africa defined individual and state identity with art and architecture.

Europe, Slavery, Colonialism

African Kings and Black Slaves: Sovereignty and Dispossession in the Early Modern Atlantic by Herman L. Bennett. As early as 1441, Portuguese and Spanish traders conducted business with African kingdoms.

Patrons, Clients, and Empire: Chieftaincy and Over-Rule in Asia, Africa, and the Pacific by Colin Newbury. Comparative study of relationships between the indigenous leaders and colonizing Europeans from the 17th to the 20th century.

Banished Potentates: Dethroning and Exiling Indigenous Monarchs Under British and French Colonial Rule by Robert Aldrich. Examines what happened to monarchs in Ceylon, India, Burma, Malaysia, Vietnam, Madagascar, Tunisia and Morocco.

African Queens

In Praise of Black Women: Ancient African Queens by Simone Schwarz-Bart. Tells the stories of Queen Amanirenas of Kush, Shaka Zulu's mother Nandi, and others. Includes hundreds of color illustrations.

Queens, Queen Mothers, Priestesses and Power edited by Flora Edouwaye S. Kaplan is about female leaders in Africa.

Female Monarchs and Merchant Queens in Africa by Nwando Achebe. Documents the worlds and life histories of elite African females and women of privilege.

African History

African Civilization Revisited by Basil Davidson. The story of Africa from antiquity to modern times, as told in the chronicles and records of chiefs, kings, and others.

The Lost Cities of Africa by Basil Davidson. Survey, based on archeological findings, of African life and civilization during the fifteen hundred years prior to colonization.

Introduction to African Civilizations by John G. Jackson. A panoramic view, from the dawn of prehistory to modern Africa.

The Civilizations of Africa: A History to 1800 by Christopher Ehret. An overview of African history during the long periods sparsely covered in most other general histories. Logically organized by topic and era.

Born in Blackness: Africa, Africans, and the Making of the Modern World, 1471 to the Second World War by Howard W. French. Retrieves the lives of major historical figures, from rich medieval emperors to ex-slaves who liberated Haitians.

The Cambridge History of Africa edited by J. Desmond Clark, J. D. Fage, Roland Oliver, Richard Gray, John E. Flint, and G. N. Sanderson. Eight-volume set of books. (Expensive.)

The Penguin Atlas of African History by Colin McEvedy. Reference book.

African Civilizations: An Archaeological Perspective by Graham Connah. Focuses on urbanism and state formation in seven main areas of Africa: Nubia, Ethiopia, the West African savanna, the West African forest, the East African coast and islands, the Zimbabwe Plateau, and parts of Central Africa.

The Origins and Structures of Political Institutions in Pre-Colonial Black Africa by Michal Tymowski. Dynastic monarchy, taxes and tributes, war and slavery, kinship and territory.

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