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Category: History & Historiography, French

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Ajami is the centuries-old practice of using modified Arabic scripts to write non-Arabic languages. It comes from the Arabic word for foreigner or non-Arab and is used widely throughout West Africa for both religious and secular writings.

Ajami in the Senegambia makes accessible over 20 handwritten ajami manuscripts produced by West African scholars. The texts contain insightful discussions on mutual understanding between people of different faiths, races and ethnic backgrounds in Senegambia. They capture several Senegambian Muslim scholars' views on peaceful cohabitation, moderation and non-violence that have been a prominent feature of Senegambian communities.

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At 2am on Wednesday 8 February 1587, Mary Queen of Scots picked up her pen for the last time. Her execution on the block at Fotheringhay Castle was a mere six hours away when she wrote this letter. It is addressed to Henri III of France, brother of her first husband.

As well as the English translation, Mary's last written words are available here in a French transcription. You can also read the historical background to this letter.

The letter is part of the National Library of Scotland's manuscript collections. (NLS reference: Adv.MS.54.1.1)

Shown here is an image of Mary shortly after her marriage in 1558. With her is her husband, Francois. As eldest son of the French King, he took the title of Dauphin (or 'Dolphin') of France. He became king in 1559.

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