Transatlantic Slave Trade: A Brief Look at Its Origins

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This Kickback has a pdf version (here)

The Transatlantic Slave: Trade A Brief Look at its Origins. Anarkata Freedom School by LSCJ 

Part I: Beginning on the Iberian Peninsula in the mid 1400’s.

*Rome invaded the Iberian Peninsula around 218 BCE

~To my very limited knowledge Romani Peoples predate the Roman invasion of the Iberian Peninsula. I know the community is expelled with the Jewish Community and enslaved within Europe during different periods. 

Unfortunately the histories I’ve read have never mentioned these peoples at all. I’ve had to use oral histories gathered from other Romani folks who pointed me to legitimate sources online. I am desperately seeking info to flesh out this history but so far have been largely unsuccessful.

*Iberian Peninsula population was made up of various ethnicities, languages, and religious practices. The major kingdoms in the area had been The Carthaginians and the Celtic/Iberians.

Iberian Peninsula pre-Rome

The Iberian Peninsula is an important Roman base.

*”406 CE the Iberian Peninsula was invaded by Germanic peoples consisting of Vandals, Swabians, and Alans, a non-Germanic people of Iranian stock who had attached themselves to the Vandals, mostly called ‘Visigoths”.

Visigothic Kingdom 600 CE

The Visigoths forced the Vandals to sail for North Africa and defeated the Swabians. The Swabian kings and their Visigothic overlords held commissions to govern in the name of the emperor; their kingdoms were thus part of the Roman Empire.

Visigoths, who had been converted to Christianity in the fifth century, decided to organize themselves into an independent kingdom with their capital at Toledo. The kingdom was based on the principle of absolute monarchy, each sovereign being elected by an assembly of nobles. Visigothic kings convoked great councils made up of bishops and nobles to assist in deciding ecclesiastical and civil matters. Visigoths gradually fused with the Swabians and Hispano-Romans into a single politico-religious entity that lasted until the eighth century.”*Portugal History by Henry Albinson

*711 CE ~the Umayyad Empire conquers the vast majority of the Iberian Peninsula very quickly. “Thus, within five years, the Muslims had conquered and occupied the entire peninsula.”*

Northern Al-Andalus and Christian Kingdoms largely outside of the  Iberian Peninsula  circa 740 CE

Iberian Peninsula 750 CE 

The Umayyad Empire in it’s entirety 750 CE.

~Jewish folks arrive on the Iberian Peninsula during Roman times. Most settled in the 1st century CE there. 

They in fact predate the Visigoth empire that took out the Romans. The Visigoths convert to Christianity and go after the established Jewish Community. Prior to the invasion by the Umayyad Empire, the Visigoths had been increasingly making antisemitic laws and policies against the Jewish community.

Jewish folks were freed from these antisemitic policies by the Emirate invasion in the early 700 CE’s. There’s some evidence that Jewish members of the Visigoth Kingdom welcomed the Umayyad invasion because they would be treated better by the Islamic kingdom. The Jewish community certainly flourished under Umayyad rule. ▪The Other 1492 by Teofilo F. Ruiz influences this commentary if memory serves.

▪︎The Visigoth nobles flee the peninsula for the most part.▪︎

~There’s a very small swatch of land that’s still under Catholic Visgoth rule and that’s the Kingdom of Asturias. Eventually there’s a Kingdom of Leon, Castile, Portugal, Aragon and many other tiny kingdoms. °A History of Portugal and the Portuguese Empire: Volume 1 by Anthony R. Disney influences this commentary.


*Afonso I is the 1st King of Portugal and founder of the Kingdom in 1139.

~Portugal is an older Kingdom than Spain, though they are directly related and often intermarry.

*”Afonso Henriques’s self-proclamation as king was finally recognized in 1143 at the Conference of Samora when Alfonso VII [King of Castile] recognized him as such, although, because he was an emperor, Alfonso VII [King of Castile] still considered Afonso Henriques his vassal. …the pope officially recognized Afonso Henriques as king of Portugal in 1179.”*

*”…early kings were assisted by a royal council composed of the king’s closest advisers and friends from among the higher nobility and clergy.

~(many early kings were illiterate)

…outside the basic social structure were the slaves, usually Muslim captives, who tilled the lands of the military orders in the Alentejo.”*

~Over time these kingdoms intermarry & combine Kingdoms until in 1450’s there’s: Portugal, Castile & Aragon all Christian and the Emirate of Grenada which practiced Islam. 

Castile is the largest Kingdom at this time and Aragon is both the smallest and the weakest. However Portugal is the most advanced.

When Queen Isabel of Castile sent Columbus on his genocidal mission in 1492 she did so in an attempt to compete with Portugal. 

Portugal is a much more advanced kingdom in terms of trade, education and exploration. 

~Under the Umayyad Empire, the Iberian Peninsula, which they name al-Andalus, has large population growth. There’s trade, learning and open exchange between the different ethnicities and religions.*°

*”Al Andalus, as Islamic Iberia was known, flourished for 250 years, under the Caliphate of Córdoba [Umayyad Empire]. Nothing in Europe approached Córdoba’s wealth, power, culture, or the brilliance of its court. The caliphs founded schools and libraries; they cultivated the sciences, especially mathematics; they introduced arabesque decoration into local architecture; they explored mines; they developed commerce and industry; and they built irrigation systems, which transformed many arid areas into orchards and gardens. Finally, the Muslim domination introduced more than 600 Arabic words into the Portuguese language.”*

~Certainly Islam is the dominate religion and both Christian and Jewish communitites pay a penalty or tax inorder to practice their religion.

*”Muslim aristocracy settled in towns and revived urban life; others fanned out across the countryside as small farmers. The Visigothic peasants readily converted to Islam, having only been superficially Christianized. Some Visigothic nobles continued to practice Christianity, but most converted to Islam and were confirmed by the Muslims as local governors.”* ~’the Muslims’ is the Umayyad Empire at this point.

~In the beginning there seems to be almost idealized peaceful conditions, it didn’t last for several hundred years after the Umayyad Empire founded Al-Andalus, a conservative Islamic contingency rose to power.  The resulting Berber Kingdoms which rule from Marrakesh,  lose the North African supporting muscle upon which the Umayyad Empire depended to control the spread of the Christian Kingdoms. This increases conflict within and without the Iberian Peninsula.

Iberian Peninsula 10th Century 900’s CE

Between the Christian and Islamic Kingdoms there’s empty land which does not clearly belong to any kingdom.

I guess an informal demilitarized zone.

Over time peasants start farming there. Eventually Lords and then the church follow. These Christian lands expand and are often in conflict with the Emirate.

After complicated politics the North African back up that al-Andalus could call on and which helped to maintain the Umayyad Dynasty’s control of the Iberian Peninsula dissipated. The result is that Christian Kingdoms begin to enlarge and expand, slowly taking over the Emirate of Cordoba until it is reduced to the Emirate of Granada under the final Nasrid Dynasty.

What is known as the ‘Reconquest/ Reconquista’ is really better labeled conquest. The Christian Kingdoms of Iberia are not descended from the former Visigothic Kingdom; they just lie.

 Al-Andalus and Christian Kingdoms around 1000 CE

Almoravid Dynasty Iberian Peninsula 1086 CE

A dynamic Christian King, King Alfonso X of Castille & a descendant of a companion of the Prophet Mohammed, Abu Abdullah Muhammad ibn Yusuf ibn Nasr (Muhammad I of Grenada), become unlikely allies.

Iberian Peninsula 1210 CE

Iberian Peninsula 1214

Muhammad I makes alliances with both Christian and Islamic Kimgdoms, he makes whatever deal empowers him.

He helps King Alfonso X of Castile take Cordoba from a competing Islamic Kingdom. In fact Emir Muhammad I helps King Afonso X to carve out a considerably larger Kingdom for Castile.

Emir Muhammad I uses the Christian Kingdoms to destabilize the Islamic Kingdoms and allow him to establish  a new ruling Emirate. 

Nasrid Emirate from 1238-1492

After some of this double dealing is exposed, Muhammad I flees to Granada where he builds Alhambra and founds the Nasrid Dynasty. The last Islamic Dynasty to rule the Iberian Peninsula.

The Court of Lions, Alhambra 

Court from the Alhambra 

The process of conquest, erroneously named ‘Reconquest/Reconquista’

by the Christian Kingdoms of Iberia really gains steam in the 1030’s with the fall of the Umayyad Dynasty and will culminate in 1492 when Isabel of Castile and her husband, Ferdinand of Aragon defeat the  Emir Muhammad XII the last ruler of the Emirate of Grenada, called Boabdil for some odd reason by the Spanish.

Iberian Peninsula 1492

~It’s the early 1400’s: Spain doesn’t exist and the Iberian Peninsula is dominated largely by the Kingdoms of Portugal, Castile, Aragon and the Emirate of Granada.

Portugal develops sophisticated navigation the earliest of the Western European Nations. They borrow the technology from the Chinese.

*”Portugal led the world [not true as their advances were borrowed from the Chinese] in nautical science, having perfected the astrolabe and quadrant and developed the lantine-rigged caravel, all of which made navigating and sailing the high seas possible.”*

Early 15th Century, 1400’s Portuguese Caravel 

~The Portuguese are trading partners with China and they ‘borrow’ Chinese technology to build their earliest navigating ships. They copy the Chinese square sail style and use of multiple sails and they trade for magnetic compasses.

Square Rigged Portuguese Caravel 

~It appears the Chinese originally used magnetic compasses as divination tools.

Anyway the Portuguese use these Chinese sails, compasses and an Arabic influenced shallower ship design.

This model is what is the basis for the ships that Columbus will take in 1492.

By 1450 the Portuguese established a ‘factory’ for processing West Africans as enslaved trade goods. Today that ‘factory’ is known as a ‘slave castle’.


*”1415 when João I of Portugal seized Ceuta in Morocco”

~Prince Henry the Navigator of Portugal (son of João I):

*”two of Prince Henry’s captains discovered the island of Porto Santo”

*”…the Madeira Islands were discovered. In 1427 Diogo de Silves, sailing west, discovered the Azores archipelago, also uninhabited. Both Madeira and Porto Santo were colonized immediately and divided into captaincies. These were distributed to Prince Henry’s [of Portugal] captain..”*

*”In 1436 Gil Eanes and Afonso Baldaia arrived at the Senegal River, which they called the River of Gold when two Africans they had captured were ransomed with gold dust.

In 1443 Nuno Tristão arrived at the Bay of Arguin off the coast of present-day Mauritania.

These voyages returned [stole, these West African peoples weren’t from Portugal so they weren’t ‘returned’ they were stolen and held in captivity in Portugal] African slaves to Portugal, which sparked an interest in the commercial value of the explorations, and a factory was established at Arguin as an entrepôt for human cargo. 

In 1444 Dinis Dias discovered the Cape Verde Islands, then heavily forested, and Nuno Tristão explored the mouth of the Senegal River.

In 1445 Cape Verde was rounded, and in 1456 Portuguese arrived at the coast of present-day Guinea. The following year, they reached present-day Sierra Leone.”*

~In 1443 a focus on slavery is decided upon in regards to West Africans being exploited by Europeans, specifically Mauritania by Portugal. The Pope gives permission and sets exploitative rules.

Other European nations join, Italy & Castile (Spain) after its profitable but this system doesn’t really take off until post 1492 colonization of the ‘new world’ makes it immensely profitable.

In 1445 a trading post is set up on Arguin Island (Mauritania) by Prince Henry the Navigator of Portugal for the purpose of selling West Africans into slavery.

By 1455 800 enslaved West Africans were shipped from Arguin to Portugal every year.

Looks to me like Portugal is attempting to control the seas around their tiny country as much as possible and luck up on a booming trade market for skilled enslaved West Africans.

Many of the West Africans stolen from Mauritania work in Europe as Deep Divers.•

“Portugal discovered [exploited] the archipelagoes of Madeira, the Azores, and the Cape Verde Islands.”*

~The nephew of Prince Henry the Navigator of Portugal is King Afonso V of Portugal often called, ‘Afonso the African’.

*”Afonso V of Portugal ordered several expeditionary forces to Morocco.

In 1458 he conquered Alcázarquivir;

in 1471 he took Arzila, followed by Tangiers and Larache.”*

In 1471 Portuguese sailors reached Mina de Ouro on the Gold Coast (present-day Ghana) and explored Cape St. Catherine, two degrees south of the equator.

Mina de Ouro became the chief center for the gold trade and a major source of revenue for the crown.

The islands of São Tomé and Príncipe were also discovered[exploited]  in 1471, and Fernão do Pó discovered the island that now bears his name in 1474.”*

*”Bartolomeu Dias sailed south beyond the tip of Africa and, after having lost sight of land for a month, turned north and made landfall on a northeast-running coastline, which was named Terra dos Vaqueiros after the native herders and cows that were seen on shore. Dias had rounded the Cape of Good Hope without seeing it and proved that the Atlantic connected to the Indian Ocean.”*

~King João II of Portugal became King on the death of his father, Afonso V in 1481.

*”Da Covilhã then left for Ethiopia where he was received by the emperor but not allowed to leave. He settled in Ethiopia, married, and raised a family. The information provided in his letter complemented the information from the expedition of Bartolomeu Dias and convinced João II [of Portugal] that it was possible to reach India by sailing around the southern end of Africa.”*

*”Manuel I [of Portugal (becomes King after the son & heir of King Afonso V, King Joao II (1481-1495), has no living sons left to inherit)], who conquered Safim and Azamor.”*

*”Manuel I [of Portugal] assumed the throne in 1495 and completed the preparations for the voyage to India. On July 8, 1497, a fleet of four ships commanded by Vasco da Gama set sail from Belém on the outskirts of Lisbon.”

“Vasco da Gama’s fleet rounded the Cape of Good Hope on November 27, 1497, South Africa on December 25 .”*


~Castile, basically Spain, also had island ‘colonies’ and slave markets in West Africa, what is now Gran Canaria, prior to Columbus’s voyage in 1492.

Castile took the citizens of those Islands and processed them as chattel slaves.

They also established early plantations for the growing of sugarcane.

◇’The conquest [genocide] of the island of Gran Canaria was a prolonged and bloody affair. Starting in 1478, it took five years, with the defeated natives either eventually allying with Castile or, more dramatically, and possibly apocryphally, hurling themselves to their deaths into a deep gully.

Isabella had been energetic in her pursuit of the Canary Islands, which lay 650 miles to the south of Spain and just seventy miles off the west coast of Africa.

…process of evangelisation among the islanders. The methods used were cruel, bringing about the virtual destruction of their society, with those that remained quickly adapting to Castilian models and their chiefs, like some Moorish or Jewish converts, receiving special attention and privileges.

…85 percent of the more than 60,000 islanders were killed or exiled, often after being lured onto boats with trickery.

…widespread trafficking in the Canary Islands’ indigenous guanches and other peoples. They were forced to work at anything from cutting sugar cane and cleaning floors to prostituting their bodies. Canary slaves were fetching between 8,000 and 10,000 maravedís a head in Seville, Valencia, Barcelona, Lisbon and as far away as Venice.’◇

Taken from ‘Isabella of Castile Europe’s First Great Queen’ by Giles Tremlett.

~This is the beginning of what will become the chattel slave trade. At this period the enslaved have the right to buy their freedom. Also the slavery is excused by the religion of the enslavers, the Catholic church. The Pope encourages slavery as long as the enslaved are ‘pagans & infidels’. At this point it’s not the custom to mass enslave Jewish & Islamic peoples in this way. Though both Jewish & Islamic individuals are enslaved in the Christian Kingdoms this is part of a practice begun during the wars with the Emirate and often involves ransoming of enslaved prisoners. This is also a practice the Emirate participates in and is most definitely slavery but not chattel slavery.

It doesn’t appear that the Portuguese are copying the Emirate (Moors) it appears they are developing this trade on their own.

I thought when I started this research that the Emirate of Granada maybe did this and encouraged Portugal & Castile/Aragon.

I’m not finding that to be the case though.

For sure the Emirate had slavery but it doesn’t appear to have been based in the trade of West Africans. Or even chattel slavery as we understand it today.

The influx of West African enslaved peoples settles around Seville in a mix of enslaved & free West Africans in this period and into the 1500’s in Spain.

By 1515 the population of Seville was 5-10% (differing books list the % differently) West African. A mixture of free and enslaved folks, primarily Christian. 

Quotes below taken from ‘Black Tudors’ by Miranda Kaufman

•”…the Iberian powers carved up the world between them in the Treaty of Tordesillas in 1494. Spain laid claim to the New World of South America and the Caribbean, while Portugal looked to North & West Africa and the East Indies. Their empires were united from 1580 under the rule of Philip II. Strangely enough, it was the death of the young Portuguese King, Don Sebastian, on African soil, at the Battle of Alcazar in 1578, that allowed Philip of Spain to annex the Portuguese crown and become the dreaded ‘universal monarch’, establishing a global dominion ‘on which the sun never set’.

The Portuguese had been the first Europeans to visit Africa, en route to India, in the fifteenth century. They brought the first enslaved [West] Africans to Europe in 1444.6 From then, a substantial [B]lack population developed across southern Europe, with smaller numbers appearing in the more northerly parts of the continent. By 1502 the transatlantic slave trade had begun, and over the next century more than 370,000 [West] Africans would be transported to the Spanish Americas.7 With people of [West] African origin scattered across the early modern world, Black Tudors could arrive in England not only directly from [West] Africa, but also from Europe, the Americas and places in between. The fact that they had often travelled through the Iberian world is reflected in names such as Catalina or Diego.’ 

‘[West] Africans themselves tended to arrive in England via Portugal, Spain or Italy.’

‘[West] African musicians had been playing for European monarchs and nobility since at least the twelfth century, in a tradition that owed much to medieval Islamic courts from Spain to Syria. In 1194, turbaned [B]lack trumpeters accompanied the Holy Roman Emperor Henry VI [King of Germany & Sicily] on his triumphal entry into Palermo in Sicily.20 In Renaissance Italy, trumpeters worked on board royal ships. Martino, a ‘[B]lack slave’, was purchased by Ferdinand, King of Naples, in 1470, to play on the royal ship Barcha. An [West] African trumpeter travelled with Cosimo I de’ Medici of Florence on his galley in 1555. In Portugal ten [B]lack musicians played the charamela (a wind-instrument) at the court of Teodosio I, Duke of Bragança.’•

~Braganza is a junior or cadet branch of the Portuguese Royal Family and they will recover Portugal from Spain in the 1600’s.

•’By this time, growing numbers of [West] Africans were living in Spain; a consequence of the growing Spanish empire. This was a newly arrived population, in contrast to the North African Moors who had ruled parts of Spain since the eighth century. Between 1441 and 1521, an estimated 156,000 [West] Africans arrived in Spain, Portugal and the Atlantic islands, mostly from the modern-day West African nations of Guinea-Bissau, Guinea-Conakry, Senegal, the Gambia and parts of Mali and Burkina Faso. By 1550, they made up 7.5% of the population of Seville…’•

•’Henry VII [King of England] had made the distinction clear earlier in his reign, when he set free Pero Alvarez, an [West] African man who had come to England from Portugal. This act of manumission, and its validity in his kingdom, was confirmed by King João II of Portugal in 1490 ‘

‘Why was it that [West] Africans were so skilled in diving when most Europeans couldn’t even swim? Jacques (Francis) was the very first known [West] African to give testimony before an English court.’

‘Like John Blanke, Jacques Francis arrived in England before regular, direct trade with [West] Africa began. Francis was born in the 1520s, on an island off the coast of the part of West Africa known to the Tudors as ‘Guinea’.

After Spain and Portugal, the next largest [West] African population in Europe was in the collection of states that today make up modern Italy, of which Milan, Naples and Sicily were ruled from Madrid after 1535. Most came via Portugal, the country that initiated the import of [West] Africans into Europe in the 1440s; the trade partly financed by Italian investors. The largest numbers of [West] Africans were in the south, especially in Sicily, but in the sixteenth century there was a growing presence in the northern cities of Mantua, Milan, Ferrara…’

‘To salvage heavy objects from the seabed, Francis must have mastered the art of free diving; that is, diving without any breathing apparatus. Still practised today, this requires years of training from an early age to develop the necessary lung capacity and mental strength, and to learn how to equalise the pressure in one’s ears, and breathe effectively.

One can paint a vivid picture of Francis as a child growing up on a West African island, learning to swim and dive from his parents and friends. The people of that region were said to be ‘the most expert swimmers in the world’, as Robert Baker and eight other Englishmen found when they were saved from a shipwreck on the Gold Coast in 1568. They used their diving ability to gather valuable currency: in Kongo, women dived for cowrie shells, while gold was brought up from the Ankobra riverbed in modern Ghana.’

‘As most Renaissance Europeans were unable to swim, the free-diving skills of [West] Africans such as Francis were admired and prized across Europe and the Atlantic world. A 1500 painting by Gentile Bellini, Miracle of the Cross at the Bridge of San Lorenzo, shows an [West] African about to jump into a Venetian canal. In Genoa, Cardinal Bandinello Sauli employed an [West] African as a swimming and diving instructor.

Ferdinando I de Medici was saved from drowning in the River Arno in 1588 by ‘a negro of his, a very notable swimmer’.

When Richard Hawkins visited the Spanish pearl fishery at La Margarita, off the north-eastern coast of Venezuela, in 1593, he observed that the [West] Africans deployed there were ‘expert swimmers, and great divers’, who over time and with ‘continual practice’ had ‘learned to hold their breath long underwater, for the better achieving their work.’ 

Pieter de Marees, a Dutchman who travelled to the Gold Coast in 1602, noted that Venezuelan slaveholders sought men from that specific area to employ as pearl divers as they were ‘very fast swimmers and can keep themselves underwater for a long time. They can dive amazingly far, no less deep, and can see underwater.”•

Quotes taken from Portuguese in West Africa, 1415-1670 by Malyn D. Newitt:

+”In the 1430s, seamen began to raid the undefended villages of the coast, carrying off women and children and ransoming men of importance.

All ecclesiastical rights were vested in the Order of Christ, while the Crown declared the trade of [West] Africa to be a royal preserve, which meant that all merchants had to receive a royal licence and a ‘fifth’ 

had to be paid on trading profits. These royal prerogatives were granted to the Infante Dom Henrique [Prince Henry the Navigator of Portugal] who secured papal Bulls, which recognized the exclusive rights of the Portuguese Crown. 

However, such extensive privileges had to be effectively enforced against interlopers, especially during Portugal’s war with Castile from 1474 to 1479 when the Castilians made a concerted attempt to breach the Portuguese monopoly in Cape Verde and São Tomé, however, imported slaves soon became the most important element in the population. 

Portuguese settlers took [West] African 

wives and their descendants formed a free [B]lack population, which retained strong cultural links with mainland [West] Africa and had correspondingly fewer direct ties with Portugal.

These Afro-Portuguese creole [the term creole is used incorrectly here] communities established commercial relations with the [West] African mainland, operating largely independently of the Portuguese Crown and its representatives. 

A new ‘Portuguese’ diaspora now began. 

Meanwhile, the creole [again used incorrectly here] inhabitants of the Cape Verde and Guinea islands were themselves moving to the [West] African mainland to trade, settle and make their fortunes. The interests of these islanders were soon to clash with those of the Crown.

The Infante Dom Henrique [Prince Henry the Navigator of Portugal] had held the right to licence and tax traders going to west Africa but, after his death in 1460, the Crown’s interest in [West] Africa and the islands declined. The Cape Verde and Guinea islands were granted to captains and the right to trade in [W]est Africa was leased to Fernão Gomes, a Lisbon merchant. 

The interests of Afonso V were clearly and explicitly focused on Morocco and latterly in trying to secure the throne of Castile.”+

~First ‘slave castle’ Elmina, which was established by Diogo de Azambuja in 1482. 

Located on what is today Elmina, Ghana. Castelo de São Jorge da Mina (St. George of the Mine Castle). 

Elmina Castle 16th Century, 1500’s

Elmina Castle December 5, 2010

Christopher Columbus visited this ‘factory’ and colony in 1482. He’ll copy much of the practice of colonization and treatment of indigenous peoples in the Americas after what he saw here.

Explains much. 

Also some of these places have been excavated and the idea that this wasn’t fully exploitative chattel slavery was put to bed with the story the bones of the enslaved peoples told. They had short painful lives full of unspeakable brutality.

The Europeans called these ‘factories’ for professing enslaved peoples. Today we call these ‘slave castles’.

+”Bartolomeu Dias was sent to continue his work, while two spies went in disguise overland to report on the commercial centres of the East and to establish contact with the Christian ruler of Ethiopia. 

Dias returned in 1489, having found the sea route around the end of [South] Africa, but the king did not immediately follow up this discovery. His more immediate concern was to send an embassy to Kongo [Congo] , a clear indication that, at that time, developing royal trade in western Africa took precedence over establishing trade with India.”+

The tie of chattel slavery to ‘Blackness’:

◇”In simple terms, then, the debate was about whether Isabella’s new subjects could be treated like [B]lack Africans, and automatically turned into slaves, or whether they should be treated like any non-belligerent guanches in the Canaries ought to have been – as potential Christians who could not be enslaved.

The papal bulls sanctioning the campaign did not discriminate between Berber and other Muslims in the north and sub-Saharan [B]lack Africans who had their own ‘pagan’ religions, perhaps because Islam was already spreading south into the gold-rich empire of Mali and elsewhere.”◇

~The Papal Bull does discriminate. It labels pagan as separate from ‘infidels & enemies of Christ” which generally referred to followers of Islam. 

◇”We grant that you and your successors as Kings of Portugal … will have in perpetuity, the right to invade, conquer, seize, subject and reduce into perpetual slavery the saracens, pagans and other infidels and enemies of Christ, whoever they are and wherever their kingdoms are,’ one papal bull stated.

Another referred specifically to ‘Guineans [West Africans] and other negroes, captured by force or bought … with legitimate contracts’.18 It urged the settlers to ‘wage continuous war against the gentile and pagan peoples who exist there and who are profoundly influenced by the repugnant Mohammed.”◇

The book references this source for the above information:

~Not sure why Black skin is associated with Islam and Mohammed.

~The above text started as highlighted passages in the texts as I was reading. Then as quotes which I added to my formal notes as I was reading. I combined those notes to create this document. That’s why there is so much repetition. I did not carefully pay attention in the beginning to exactly where the quotations were pulled from and it’s possible some were mislabeled. ~LSCJ


~denotes my commentary based on all of the sources. In some cases I have to correct quotes and I do so using [ ] around my inserted commentary.

*Portugal History by Henry Albinson-this is available on Kindle Unlimited & Scribd

+Portuguese in West Africa, 1415-1670 by Malyn D. Newitt

•Black Tudors by Miranda Kaufman

◇Isabella of Castile:Europe’s First Great Queen by Giles Tremlett

°A History of Portugal and the Portuguese Empire: Volume 1 by Anthony R. Disney

▪︎The Other 1492: Ferdinand, Isabel and the Making of an Empire by Teofilo F. Ruiz

Imprudent King: A New Life of Philip II (of Spain) by Geoffrey Parker

Philip II (of Spain) by Patrick Williams 

Francis I: The Maker of Modern France by Leonie Frieda 

Emperor: A New Life of Charles V (of Spain) by Geoffrey Parker

Caliphs and Kings: Spain 796-1031 by Roger Collins

~Most of the books I reference above are written in support of white supremacy. They are often blatantly racist and will ruthlessly ignore facts in order to enhance their agenda. I am still able to use these histories by ignoring the author’s conclusions and verifying the resources cited.

Below is a link to folder that has most of the books above in addition to other books relating to this research:

Google Drive with books listed as sources

Part II: Indigenous Peoples of West Africa’s response.

~The most important take away from my research about the beginnings of  the Transatlantic Slave Trade:

1) Established by Portugal & Spain BEFORE 1492 and Columbus’s voyage.

Not a custom adopted from the Emirate.

2) Established by Portugal & Spain stealing people, land, & resources directly themselves. 

Not West Africans trading each other.

3) Established a policy/practice of mass genocide in the beginning with Portugal & Spain enslaving or murdering 85% of the population of the West African lands they conquer. 

This is NOT how the Iberian Peninsula was colonized by the Umayyad Empire. 

4) Establish policies that lead to mass suicide by impacted Indigenous Peoples of West Africa. 

This will be repeated in the Americas and will be used to solidify chattel slavery as the condition of Black peoples. Bartolomé de las Casas-old fuck face priest, will have this made into law.

5) Established the use of enslaved labor in plantation style settings.

It’s important to understand that the Transatlantic Slave Trade was a living breathing entity both responsive and flexible to it’s environment. Constantly expanding to fit maximum exploitation while simultaneously mutating into the most genocidal form inorder to control said expansion of chattel slavery.

Much of how modern folks think of and view chattel slavery is influenced by slavery from 1830-1865 in the US. 

Most of our knowledge is based on white supremacist lies reinforced by media, like Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. 

Chattel slavery was different for every generation that lived it.

Much like racism is different for every generation that experiences it because racism moves in the footsteps of chattel slavery. 

It appears that the Indigenous Peoples of West Africa changed as a result of this European invasion. My early studies indicate/verify, that the Indigenous Peoples of West Africa participated in chattel slavery to protect themselves. At least at the start.

Usualy by offering their neighbors (neighboring kingdoms/nations/tribes/clans/etc). Often in order to afford the guns to protect themselves. 

So my research is focusing on how the Indigenous Peoples of West Africa responded to the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

As well as what tools and customs they developed to protect themselves from genocidal enslaving Europeans. 

Again, West Africans did not at any point go up to Portuguese/Spanish explorers and attempt to sell them enslaved peoples.

Nope, Portuguese and Spain more or less engage in smash and grab tactics,  like their Danish cousins.

This seems to be the Iberian Peninsula Christians going ‘viking’ equivalent.

*”Resistance to capture and deportation was an integral part of the Africans’ actions, but their strategies against the slave trade did not necessarily translate into acts of resistance. Indeed, some mechanisms were grounded in the manipulation of the trade for the protection of oneself or one’s group.”*

*”The level of fortification of the forts and barracoons attests to the Europeans’ distrust and apprehension. They had to protect themselves, as jean-Baptiste Durand of the Compagnie du Senegal explained, “from the foreign vessels and from the Negroes living in the country”’*

*”…to protect and defend themselves and their communities and to cripple the international slave trade that threatened their lives, people devised long-term mechanisms, such as resettling to hard-tofind places, building fortresses, evolving new-often more rigid-styles of leadership, and transforming the habitat and the manner in which they occupied the land.”*

*”At the same time, in a vicious circle, raiding and kidnapping became more prevalent as some communities, individuals, and states traded people to access guns and iron to forge better weapons to protect themselves, or in order to obtain in exchange the freedom of their loved ones.”*

*”As an immediate as well as a long-term strategy, some free people attacked slave ships and burned down factories. And when everything else had failed, a number of men and women revolted in the barracoons and aboard the ships that transported them to the Americas, while others jumped overboard or let themselves starve to death.”*


~ my notes. [ ] my notes/corrections inserted into quotes

*Fighting the Slave Trade: West African Strategies by Sylviane A. Diouf

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