Slavery in the 16th to 19th centuries reflects a "strongly connected" world


The slave trade during the 16th and 19th centuries it was a "choral and European affair" in which the Spanish, Portuguese, Italians and Dutch, among others, participated, according to a set of studies by an international group of 17 historians published by the University of Seville.

"The slave trade in the Atlantic it marked the construction of the modern world and sustained the development of the first world economy between Europe, Africa and America ", according to the conclusions of this group of studies grouped under the title "Atlantic trades and slavery in America. XVI-XIX centuries", coordinated by the professors of the Sevilla University Manuel F. Fernández Chaves and Rafael M. Pérez García.

The fifteen works gathered in this volume are based on unpublished documentation conserved in some twenty historical archives and libraries in Spain, Portugal, Italy, Bolivia, Argentina, Chile and Brazil, relating to ports that stood out in the slave trade, such as Cádiz and Porto.

These investigations also refer to African and Caribbean markets and regions, as well as the Atlantic archipelagos, which formed "the gigantic gears of the Atlantic slave trades" in the long period of just over three centuries, since the provision of labor to Puerto Rico in the first decade of the 16th century until the Spanish legislation on keeping slaves on the same island in 1848.

According to the coordinators of this group of investigations, it has been a question of offer "a panoramic vision that confirms the idea of ​​a strongly connected world and interrelated despite the distances ".

The transnational nature of this market is reflected in the contribution of the researcher Jonatan Orozco Cruz, from the Sevillian University Pablo de Olavide, who describes the "transnational, transcultural and trans-imperial" nature of these mercantile networks, which he comes to describe as "cosmopolitan".

Orozco Cruz, who analyzes the main slave companies of the last third of the seventeenth century, affirms that they were made up of "Italian, English, Portuguese, Flemish and French businessmen".

"The interrelationships between these businessmen within the slave seat they were translated into a network of correspondents in common, which supported the businesses not only of the incumbents, but also factors, captains, sailors and other people employed "in this industry, such as" a large network of attorneys in places such as Cádiz, Seville, Madrid, Antwerp, Amsterdam, Curaçao, Jamaica, Cartagena de Indias, Portobelo and Veracruz " , although it only names the "most relevant" centers.

Miguel Royano Cabrera, also from the University of Seville, dedicates a section of his research to the "illicit trade" of slaves, of which he says that it was "a prohibited but wanted business" and documents three cases of merchants of the Crown of Aragon in the illegal traffic of slaves.

Two of those cases were due to take to the Indies slaves without a license, but the most complex case was that of the merchant Jerónimo Tría who, despite having a license, passed four Indians from Veracruz to Seville, which were confiscated "since the New Laws of 1542 guaranteed the freedom of the natives, slavery being limited in case of revolt to men over 14 years of age ".

Giuseppe Patisso, professor at the Italian University of Salento, closes this set of investigations with a work on the slave legislation in Puerto Rico in the first half of the XIX century, as well as on the debate on the abolition of the slave trade and slavery.

"The terror of freedom" is the title of Giuseppe Petisso's work in clear allusion to the harsh measures implemented, as governor of the island, General Juan Prim, with the idea of ​​avoiding slave revolts, norms that did not differentiate between free Africans and slaves and that extended the death penalty to crimes such as robbery or arson, among other repressive measures that ultimately cost him his dismissal in 1848.

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