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Jean Barbot visits Kormantin

Jean Barbot visits Kormantin

Barbot is a Frenchman who traveled extensively around the Gold Coast, and is considered one of the primary sources for this period of history.

The Dutch built Fort Good Hope at Egya in 1647 but the English captured it in 1664; the English settled there during the Third Anglo-Dutch War in 1672. In Egya, Barbot finds three white residents and a c;uster of five or six small villages about a ‘musket-shot’ apart from one another.

After leaving Egya, Barbot notes the landing at Kormantin was difficult. He describes the fort built on a steep hill, flanked with four bastions, like a castle, where its outer walls had deep spiked ditches, and  it commanded a large well-populated town on the slope of the hill, partly hidden from the sea. Barbot drew Fort Amsterdam from the anchorage; a considerably revised version sketch appears in 1688 with the main change being the loss of the upper part of a tower and the replacement of a pyramid dome by a curved cupola.  There is an additional set of engravings of Gold Coast forts, circa 1690s, that is so different from Barbot’s that either it represents a drawing made at another time, a deliberate revision or confused with another fort. Some rebuilding was needed after 1679, when rain destroyed much of the original fortification. Barbot asserts in 1679 that Fort Amsterdam had 4 bastions and 18 cannon, manned by 150 whites, and also had cisterns. Other Dutch sources report only 19 whites.


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