Askia Daud became emperor in 1549. His military victories restored Songhai control over trade routes to the north. There were battles with the Mossi, the Fulani, the Malians, Kebbi and Katsina. Daud was so sure of the bravery and fighting ability of his soldiers that he sent a raiding party of twenty-four horsemen to attack the Hausa city of Katsina. These resolute men hurled themselves at 400 Katsina cavalrymen who had come out to engage them. Needless to say, Daud's men were beaten. Fifteen of them were killed in this struggle, and the nine remaining were wounded and captured. The ruler of Katsina sent them back to Daud with the message: "Men of such incomparable bravery do not deserve to die." In 1556 the Moroccans attacked Taghaza. They killed the Songhai governor of the city and a number of Tuaregs who were working in the salt caravans. The surviving traders petitioned Daud to abandon Taghaza for safer pastures. The Askia opened a new salt mine in 1557 where the old salt traders found work.
Askia Daud was a fine administrator. He employed only trusted supporters to the key jobs in the government. Under his rule, trade and culture flourished. He repaired the University Mosque and enlarged the Djinguerebere Mosque, both in Timbuktu. The learned and dutiful Cadi, Al-Aquib, supervised these construction works. Scholarship also flourished and Daud was a scholar himself. He founded libraries and employed scribes to transcribe important manuscripts.
Following his victorious campaign against Mali in 1559, Askia Daud married a Malian princess. According to As-Sadi, the great Songhai historian of the seventeenth century: "He [Askia Daud] caused the princess to be conducted to Songhai in a sumptuous equipage. She was covered with jewels, surrounded by numerous slaves, both men and women, and provided with an abundant baggage train. All of the utensils were of gold - dishes, pitchers, pestle and mortar, everything." As Professor Diop points out, the princess "then lived in a luxury comparable with that of Helen of Troy"