Illusions of Grandeur and Protection: Perceptions and (Mis)Representations of the Defensive Efficacy of European-Built Fortifications on the Gold Coast, Seventeenth–Early Nineteenth Centuries

  • John Kwadwo Osei-Tutu
  • Hermann W. von Hesse
Part of the African Histories and Modernities book series (AHAM)


This paper explores how individuals and polities on the Gold Coast (mis)understood their relationships with their European allies and how the presence of rivalling European fortifications and settlements in African localities constituted (dis)advantages in inter-African as well as African-European dealings from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries. Though outwardly the rivalling European forts and castles in West Africa projected grandeur and military strength, in reality they were found largely wanting whether for large scale offensive or defensive purposes. The fortifications on the Gold Coast could neither provide protection for the Europeans nor for their littoral African allies in the face of large-scale military onslaught by the expanding militaristic Akan states.


Condition Ak European Forts Ahanta Christiansborg Castle Cape Coast Castle 
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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Kwadwo Osei-Tutu
    • 1
  • Hermann W. von Hesse
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of History and Classical StudiesNorwegian University of Science and TechnologyTrondheimNorway
  2. 2.Department of HistoryUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA

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