Atlantic History People of African Descent in Early Modern Europe
by
Annika Bärwald, Josef Köstlbauer, Rebekka von Mallinckrodt
  • LAST MODIFIED: 15 January 2020
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199730414-0326

Introduction

People of African descent shaped early modern Europe, here encompassing the 15th to 18th centuries, in many ways. They traveled, moved, or were trafficked to the European continent, voluntarily or by force, temporarily or for the rest of their lives. Yet the great majority of Africans arrived in Europe as captives or slaves. Enslavement practices that originated in ancient and medieval times gained momentum during the era when peoples living in the Mediterranean basin practiced reciprocal enslavement, only to continue after the advent of the transatlantic slave trade. This article takes into consideration people from North Africa who were part of the Mediterranean slavery system as well as sub-Saharan Africans who were affected by the transatlantic slave trade and are referred to in some research literatures as “black Africans.” However, as the early modern term “moor” was used indiscriminately by contemporaries to refer to dark-skinned people from a wide variety of geographical locations, it is not always possible to differentiate between people from the African continent (North and South), the Ottoman Empire (which extended from Central Asia and the eastern Mediterranean to North Africa), or, for instance, the Indian subcontinent. Africans not only arrived as captives or slaves but also as merchants, diplomats, scholars, and students. They came as the partners or children of marital, but more often informal, relationships between Europeans and Africans in the colonies. Whereas it is often difficult to reconstruct to what extent these relationships were characterized by love, force, or pragmatism, the composition of Euro-African families in Europe suggests African agency as much as the intellectual, artistic, and military career trajectories of people of African descent. By contrast, research on the contribution of people of African descent to early modern European culture is only in its beginning stages and is aggravated by a dearth of sources as well as Eurocentric perspectives. The research in different European countries differs enormously, depending on the country’s proximity to the Mediterranean or the Atlantic basin, its involvement in colonial projects and subsequent need for manpower, and public awareness of the topic. Whereas research on the Mediterranean slave trade as well as the repercussions of the transatlantic slave trade on western European colonial powers like France, Great Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain partly goes back to the 1950s, Scandinavia, the German territories, and the Central European “hinterlands” have attracted more attention only recently.

General Overviews

The number of publications on people of African descent in national historiographies is growing steadily. However, only a small number of works transcend the boundaries of national historiography. This is not surprising, considering the conceptual difficulties presented by different historical traditions of the study of slavery and African-European encounters in different parts of Europe. The oldest work cited, Debrunner 1979, tackles this problem by assembling a huge amount of biographical sketches. This book helped scholars to get a sense of the sheer scale of the phenomenon and it points to useful sources for further research. In a similar vein, Martone 2009 offers an encyclopedic presentation of Africans and people of African descent in Europe throughout the ages. Gnammankou and Modzinou 2008, while also taking a broad approach, presents many classic themes, historical figures, and authors. Many edited volumes are characterized by a comparative approach. Earle and Lowe 2005 has proven quite influential. It presents case studies from different parts of Renaissance Europe and arranges them thematically, thus covering a wide range of subjects, from the perception and representation of Africans to slavery, manumission, and identity formation in different early modern European societies. The essays brought together in Hanss and Schiel 2014 situate Mediterranean slavery in a global context and show that the semantics of slavery merit special attention. Spicer 2012 not only demonstrates the African presence in Renaissance Europe, but the works of art presented therein also show how Africans were perceived and represented in early modern visual media. Conversely, Northrup 2014, a book-length synthesis of African-European relations from the late medieval to the modern period, centers African perceptions of Europeans and Europe. The essays in Grinberg and Peabody 2011 demonstrate the importance of comparative research on the legal framing of slavery and race. Schorsch 2004 ties matters of perception and social construction to an analysis of legal traditions in a study of Jewish-African relations in early modern Europe. Finally, Dakhlia, et al. 2011–2013 remind us of the importance of collective religious identities that often connect subjects across geographical distance. As a result, a considerable amount of scholarship on North Africans can be found in publications on Muslims in Europe. Taken together, the selected works amply demonstrate the multifaceted and complex character of the histories of people of African descent in Europe from the medieval period to modernity and introduce readers to a broad variety of perspectives.

  • Dakhlia, Jocelyne, Wolfgang Kaiser, and Bernhard Vincent, eds. Les musulmans dans l’histoire de l’Europe. 2 vols. Paris: Albin Michel, 2011–2013.

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    While this edited volume does not appear to be about people of African descent at first sight, religious collective identities are used in order to locate people of North African descent and trace their different life trajectories. It features contributions from Emanuele Colombo on a Muslim prince from Fez (Morocco), who became a Jesuit in Italy after being captured, and a chapter by Wolfgang Kaiser on itinerant merchants between Algiers, Tunis, and Marseille.

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  • Debrunner, Hans Werner. Presence and Prestige: Africans in Europe. Basel, Switzerland: Basler Afrika-Bibliographien, 1979.

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    This vast bio-bibliographical work by a Swiss theologian and missionary historian ranges chronologically from the Middle Ages to the 20th century and geographically from the Mediterranean to northern and western Europe. Widely regarded as a groundbreaking study in its day, it now appears somewhat dated but can still be of use due to its plethora of source references.

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  • Earle, Thomas Foster, and Kate Lowe, eds. Black Africans in Renaissance Europe. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

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    This voluminous and complex edited volume covers conceptualizations of black Africans in literature and art, representations and living conditions of black Africans at court, aspects of enslavement and emancipation, and a chapter on “Black Africans with European Identities and Profiles.” The geographical and temporal focus is on Renaissance Italy, Spain, and Portugal, but the book also provides examples from the Holy Roman Empire, England, and France.

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  • Gnammankou, Dieudonné, and Yao Modzinou, eds. Les Africains et leurs descendants en Europe avant le XXème siècle. Toulouse, France: Maison de l’Afrique à Toulouse, 2008.

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    Taking a broad temporal, geographical, and topical approach, this edited volume unites many of the subjects, countries, historical figures, and authors that are assembled in this bibliographical article and thus can serve as an introduction to the theme. However, the editors did not always include the most recent scholarship. A chapter by Patrick Manning on how people of African descent in Europe fit into the broader picture of the African diaspora is of special interest.

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  • Grinberg, Keila, and Sue Peabody, eds. Special Issue: Free Soil. Slavery & Abolition 32.3 (2011).

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    This special issue addresses the important subject of “free soil,” a legal principle circulating in late medieval and early modern Europe that granted slaves their freedom if they touched urban, Dutch, English, French, Portuguese, or Spanish soil. Although never resolutely implemented, it constituted an important argument for liberty and a glimmer of hope for many slaves.

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  • Hanss, Stefan, and Juliane Schiel, eds. Mediterranean Slavery Revisited (500–1800): Neue Perspektiven auf mediterrane Sklaverei, 500–1800. Zürich, Switzerland: Chronos Verlag, 2014.

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    This multilingual edited volume with contributions in English, French, German, and Italian focuses on enslaved persons from diverse origins, including people of African descent, in medieval and early modern Mediterranean regions, Russia, and Siam. Special attention is paid to the semantics and practices of slavery as well as to transcultural perspectives.

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  • Martone, Eric, ed. Encyclopedia of Blacks in European History and Culture. 2 vols. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2009.

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    An ambitious compilation encompassing biographical sketches and entries on representation and the social-political circumstances of people of African descent in Europe from Antiquity to the 21st century. The articles are of varying length and depth. The encyclopedic structure facilitates selective reading and a transnational, comparative approach. Due to its consistent referencing of further reading materials it is an accessible introductory source for students.

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  • Northrup, David. Africa’s Discovery of Europe, 1450–1850. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014.

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    A remarkable history of Africa and Europe that aims to create an alternative to Eurocentric narratives of expansion and locates African agency in interactions with Europeans. Six thematically organized chapters explore Africans’ perceptions, strategies, and motivations in their engagement with Europeans and the repercussions thereof. Chapter 6, “Passages in Slavery” (pp. 157–189), is of special interest here, as it is concerned with Africans in Europe. Useful because it establishes a wider context for Afro-European encounters.

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  • Schorsch, Jonathan. Jews and Blacks in the Early Modern World. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

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    This work traces social histories, legal traditions, Jewish discourses on race, and the lives of people of African descent through several centuries while also resoundingly refuting the myth of an above-average Jewish involvement in slave trading. The third chapter contains detailed research findings on free and enslaved people of African descent in early modern Jewish communities in Italy and northwestern Europe. The author focuses on questions of conversion, manumission, and communal participation.

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  • Spicer, Joaneath A., ed. Revealing the African Presence in Renaissance Europe. Baltimore: Walters Art Museum, 2012.

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    This exhibition catalogue with contributions from Kate Lowe, Natalie Zemon Davis, and Joaneath Spicer combines art historical with cultural and social historical perspectives. It pays equal attention to African slaves, free people of African descent, and African ambassadors and rulers in Renaissance Europe. Due to its balanced, complex, and at the same time concrete and vivid approach, it can serve as a good introductory work for students.

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Biographies

Biographical studies enable historians to focus on nuances, ambiguities, and individual character traits but often suffer from a dearth of sources. In recent years a shift has taken place away from chronicling the lives of well-known figures to exploring more marginal existences. Approached with micro-historical tools, these life stories tell us a lot about the challenges and possibilities faced by people of African descent in early modern European societies. Biographies of prominent African-descended figures, too, have become increasingly complex as they try to interpret an individual’s achievements in relation to the social contexts of their time. Working from scant source material, Davis 2006 creates a compelling account of the enigmatic North African 16th-century traveler and scholar known as Leo Africanus. Juan Latino, the well-known 16th-century Spanish poet and scholar of African descent, is the subject of a detailed monograph—Martín Casares 2016. Four prominent 18th-century figures known for their intellectual contributions to European society and beyond—Jacobus Capitein, Anton Wilhelm Amo, Angelo Soliman, and Olaudah Equiano, respectively—are portrayed in Capitein and Parker 2001, Ette 2014, Blom and Kos 2011, and Carretta 2005. The former two biographies stand out for their careful attention to Capitein’s and Amo’s achievements in theology and Enlightenment philosophy, respectively. Carretta 2005 is a more controversial work, as it argues that Olaudah Equiano, author of a widely read slave narrative, falsely claimed African birth. It thus ignited an ongoing debate about fact, fiction, and self-fashioning in autobiographical writing. The changing roles of an African valet, freemason, tutor, and friend of Joseph II are at the center of the essays assembled in Blom and Kos 2011. This work traces the career and triumphs, as well as the post-mortem exhibition, of Angelo Soliman. Sensbach 2006, Schreuder 2017, and Pálsson 2016 show the potential for biographies of “hidden” figures in European history: Sensbach 2006 emphasizes mobility and evangelical work in this study of West Indian–born missionary Rebecca Freundlich/Protten. Schreuder 2017 chronicles the lives of two African-descended court employees at the court of the stadholder in the Netherlands. Pálsson 2016 follows the life of Hans Jonathan, an enslaved person whose status was the subject of a landmark trial in 1802 in Copenhagen and who eventually made a life for himself as an escaped but free man in Iceland. Reiss 2012 brings to the fore an example of military careers achieved by people of African descent in early modern Europe.

  • Blom, Philipp, and Wolfgang Kos, eds. Angelo Soliman: Ein Afrikaner in Wien. Vienna: Christian Brandstätter Verlag, 2011.

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    This catalogue focuses on the famous African who was brought to Vienna as an enslaved child, entered high society as a servant, worked later as a tutor to a prince, and became a member of the freemasons, only to be exhibited in the imperial natural history collection after his death. Articles on the West African and Mediterranean slave trades, as well as on representations of people of African descent at European courts, expand the biographical scope of this work.

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  • Capitein, Jacobus Elisa Johannes, and Grant Richard Parker. The Agony of Asar: A Thesis on Slavery by the Former Slave Jacobus Elisa Johannes Capitein, 1717–1747. Princeton, NJ: Markus Wiener, 2001.

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    The story of Jacobus Elisa Johannes Capitein, a West African brought to the Netherlands as an enslaved child who later studied theology in Leiden and returned as a missionary to West Africa, continues to resonate. Parker’s translation of Capitein’s controversial dissertation, which argued that slavery was compatible with Christianity, is accompanied here by a well-sourced biographical survey. It remains the most internationally accessible work on Capitein to date.

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  • Carretta, Vincent. Equiano, the African: Biography of a Self-Made Man. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 2005.

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    A critical biography of the famous abolitionist of African descent, Olaudah Equiano, alias Gustavus Vassa. Caretta’s suggestion that parts of Equiano’s autobiography may have been fictitious was fiercely debated both inside and outside of academia. This controversy demonstrated the continuing sensitivity to the issue of slavery and, therefore, the importance of scholarly research of the topic. It provides ample material for lively discussions in graduate as well as undergraduate courses.

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  • Davis, Natalie Zemon. Trickster Travels: A Sixteenth-Century Muslim between Worlds. New York: Hill & Wang, 2006.

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    Natalie Zemon Davis reconstructs the biography of Hassan ibn Muhammad al-Wazzan, also known as Leo Africanus, who published the first geographical survey of Africa in 1550. After being captured by Christian corsairs, he spent many years in Rome under the patronage of Pope Leo X and later Pope Clement VII. Reviews equally praise and criticize Davis for her use of fragmentary and sometimes contradictory sources, calling her work either imaginative or speculative.

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  • Ette, Ottmar. Anton Wilhelm Amo: Philosophieren ohne festen Wohnsitz; Eine Philosophie der Aufklärung zwischen Europa und Afrika. Berlin: Kulturverlag Kadmos, 2014.

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    Of the many publications on Anton Wilhelm Amo, who came to Germany as an enslaved child, made a university career but returned to Africa later in his life, this biography by Ottmar Ette stands out for its combination of a description of Amo’s life trajectory with his philosophical thinking: For example, Ette explains Amo’s use of the term “equipolency” as referring to the equal validity of different perspectives and traditions.

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  • Martín Casares, Aurelia. Juan Latino: Talento y destino; Un afroespañol en tiempos de Carlos V y Felipe II. Granada, Spain: Editorial Universidad de Granada, 2016.

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    This well-known humanist of African descent, a former slave, had a distinguished career as a scholar, educator, and poet. Having uncovered new sources, the author is able to present new perspectives on Latino’s parentage, his connection to the duke of Sessa, his marriage to a white Spanish woman, and his strategy of presenting himself as a Christian Ethiopian in order to distance himself from the persecuted Morisco population.

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  • Pálsson, Gísli. The Man Who Stole Himself: The Slave Odyssey of Hans Jonathan. Rev. and updated ed. Translated by Anna Yates. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016.

    DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226313313.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Translated from the Icelandic original Hans Jónatan, maðurinn sem stal sjálfum sér (2014), this biography embeds the 1802 Danish court case confirming the legality of slavery in the West Indian–born subject’s life story. The author traces Hans Jonathan’s early life, the court proceedings in Copenhagen, and his eventual escape and settlement in Iceland. Also discloses and reflects on research strategies. An engaging introductory text and valuable case study.

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  • Reiss, Tom. The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo. New York: Crown, 2012.

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    Thomas Alexandre Dumas served as a junior officer under Chevalier de Saint-George in the all-black regiment established by the National Assembly during the French Revolution, eventually rose to the rank of General under Napoleon, and was the father of the iconic writer Alexandre Dumas père.

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  • Schreuder, Esther. Cupido en Sideron: Twee Moren aan het hof van Oranje. Amsterdam: Uitgeverij Balans, 2017.

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    Dutch art historian Esther Schreuder retells the stories of the lives of Willem Frederik Cupido and Guan Anthony Sideron, two men of African descent employed at the court of the stadholder William V of Orange-Nassau. Her empathetic biography focuses on ambiguities of slavery and privilege and the subjects’ forced migration in childhood, and it concludes with a chapter on the descendants of Willem Frederik Cupido.

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  • Sensbach, Jon F. Rebecca’s Revival: Creating Black Christianity in the Atlantic World. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2006.

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    The Moravians were remarkable because they regarded people of African descent as equal members of their congregation. Some, like the former slave Rebecca Protten, even attained positions of prominence within the community. The book traces her travels as an evangelist between the Danish Caribbean, Germany, and West Africa and provides intriguing insights into the beginnings of black Christianity in the Caribbean and beyond.

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France

Although France forms part of the Mediterranean basin and thus participated in the Mediterranean slave trade, people of African descent in France have less frequently been the subject of research in this field, as most work focuses on the transatlantic slave trade. Therefore, already in early, pioneering studies on galley slaves in France, but also in current research on Muslims in France (see for instance Dakhlia, et al. 2011–2013, cited under General Overviews), often it is possible to find and distinguish people of African descent only through close reading, as slaves were taken from all over the Mediterranean and beyond. Early modern terminology and perspectives exacerbate this problem, as the terms “moor” and “turc” were not specific to any particular geographical or ethnic origin and could equally refer to a person from Africa, the eastern Mediterranean, or even Asia. More studies exist of the period when France became a significant western European colonial power, and the African diaspora in France also becomes a discernible topic. Among the earliest publications is a thesis by Koufinkana completed in 1989 but only published twenty years later as an abridged version as the author had died (Koufinkana 2008). Thus, Peabody 1996 for many years remained the seminal work in the field before a veritable boom of research after the millennium. Three authors publish in the field most frequently: Pierre Boulle (Boulle 2009), Érick Noël (Noël 2006 and Noël 2007), and Sue Peabody (Boulle and Peabody 2014). Thus, the legal situation of people of African descent in France, as well as aspects related to race and age, are well known. Furthermore, France has set up the most extensive register of black people in early modern Europe with more than 19,000 entries (Noël 2011–2017). Gender has received less attention. Weiss 2011 combines research on Mediterranean captivity and transatlantic slavery, which is remarkable because they are usually analyzed in different fields by different experts. Bardin 2008 and Hopquin 2009 highlight the accomplishments of people of African descent in the arts, politics, and war (see also Reiss 2012, cited under Biographies).

  • Bardin, Pierre. Joseph sieur de Saint George, le chevalier noir. Paris: Guénégaud, 2008.

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    This revised edition of a biography originally published in 2006 retells the life of Joseph Boulogne Chevalier de Saint-Georges (b. 1739?–d. 1799), who was born as the son of a wealthy French planter and his wife’s African slave in Guadeloupe and was taken to France for education. He became a famous composer, virtuoso violinist, conductor, and fencer. During the French Revolution he was placed in command of an all-black regiment by the National Assembly.

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  • Boulle, Pierre H. “Slave and Other Nonwhite Children in Late-Eighteenth-Century France.” In Children in Slavery through the Ages. Edited by Gwyn Campbell, Suzanne Miers, and Joseph C. Miller, 169–186. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2009.

    DOI: 10.1353/chapter.258116Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    In this article Boulle analyzes the mostly illegal trafficking of nonwhite children to 18th-century France. Although some of them were sent to France for education, most were brought directly from Africa, India, and the West Indian plantations in a manner that circumvented the law in order to work as domestic servants. Seen as fashionable exotic symbols, they heightened the prestige of their owners.

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  • Boulle, Pierre H., and Sue Peabody. Le droit des noirs en France au temps de l’esclavage: Textes choisis et commentés. Paris: L’Harmattan, 2014.

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    One of the few available editions of sources, reaching from the Middle Ages until 1848 with a focus on the 18th century. While it is written entirely in French, it is still highly valuable as a first-hand resource.

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  • Hopquin, Benoît. Ces noirs qui ont fait la France. Paris: Calmann-Lévy, 2009.

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    This overview of famous African immigrants from the 18th century to the present contains two early modern biographies of the Chevalier de Saint-Georges (b. 1739?–d. 1799) (see also Bardin 2008) and Jean-Baptiste Belley (b. 1746–d. 1805), a Senegal native and former slave from Saint-Domingue who became a member of the National Convention and the Council of Five Hundred. Due to its journalistic framing it does not meet scientific standards in the strict sense but can serve as an introduction to the topic.

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  • Koufinkana, Marcel. Les esclaves noirs en France sous l’ancien régime XVIeXVIIIe siècles. Paris: L’Harmattan, 2008.

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    This is the short (164 pages) version of a PhD dissertation completed at the University of Toulouse in 1989. Beyond the legal situation it covers the daily lives of black people in the French army. As the author died in 2000, this posthumous publication was edited by colleagues and friends. The 431-page-long dissertation is still available on microfiche.

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  • Noël, Érick. Être noir en France au XVIIIe siècle. Paris: Tallandier, 2006.

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    In this work Noël provides an overview of people of African descent in 18th-century France. He discusses representations of Africans situated between “noble savage and brute animal,” legislation and jurisdiction, as well as daily life in Paris, Nantes, and Bourdeaux. The figures he presents range from servants and artisans to members of high society like the Chevalier de Saint-Georges (see also Bardin 2008).

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  • Noël, Érick. “L’esclavage dans la France moderne.” Dix-Huitième Siècle 39 (2007): 361–383.

    DOI: 10.3917/dhs.039.0361Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    In this article Noël explains how slavery was practised in France hors-la-loi (beyond the law): People involved in the trafficking of individuals circumvented the law by not registering their slaves, by pretending they were in France for education, training, or baptism, by avoiding the term “slavery,” and by concealing the trade in the metropole.

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  • Noël, Érick, ed. Dictionnaire des gens de couleur dans la France moderne. 3 vols. Geneva, Switzerland: Droz, 2011–2017.

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    This is the most extensive register of “black” people (in the wide, early modern sense of the word) in Europe: The three volumes that have been published so far cover Paris et son basin, La Bretagne, and Le midi from the 16th century to 1792. With the help of many contributors, more than 19,000 persons have been identified. Indexes of black people by name and, if they were slaves, their masters, are intended to make this rich resource easily accessible.

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  • Peabody, Sue. “There Are No Slaves in France”: The Political Culture of Race and Slavery in the Ancien Régime. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.

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    Peabody analyzes freedom suits by slaves in 18th-century France. The resistance of France’s Admiralty and the Parlament of Paris to accepting slavery in France forced the Crown to use the language of race instead in order to limit black presence in France and to separate the colonial sphere from the metropole. Complex but also vivid and comprehensible overview of legal developments that conveys an understanding of the different interest groups.

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  • Weiss, Gillian. “Infidels at the Oar: A Mediterranean Exception to France’s Free Soil Principle.” Slavery & Abolition 32.3 (2011): 397–412.

    DOI: 10.1080/0144039X.2011.588477Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This article brings together research on Mediterranean and transatlantic slavery in an original way: Weiss argues that Ottoman and Moroccan rowers on French galleys did not provoke any consternation among French leaders despite the violation of the free soil principle this constituted (see also Grinberg and Peabody 2011, cited under General Overviews). Questions about the lawfulness of keeping Muslim slaves arose only after colonial slaves began claiming liberty in the metropole.

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Great Britain

The history of people of African descent in the British Isles is intricately linked to the history of the Atlantic slave trade. Legal cases like the famous Somerset case of 1772, the rise of the abolition movement, and the development of racial prejudice have occupied scholarly interest for a long time. In the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, a new generation of historians began to reinterpret the history of black people in Britain. Their research was heavily influenced by the politics of the civil rights movement, decolonization, and scholarship produced in the United States on the Atlantic slave trade and American slavery. Onyeka 2014 and Olusoga 2016 both consciously reflect this tradition and political agenda, and they are thus useful to understanding the changing but continuing political importance and sensitivity to this topic in Britain. The bicentenary of the abolition of the British slave trade brought on a proliferation of studies on slavery, the slave trade, and abolition, as well as a new awareness of the continuing legacies of slavery. By tying together Atlantic history, slavery studies, and new imperial history, this scholarship firmly situates British ports, landscapes, urban and provincial society, and the arts within an imperial and transatlantic context. Dresser 2016 focuses on Bristol, one of Britain’s premier slaving ports; Amussen 2007 offers an interpretation of how Englishmen’s experience of colonial slavery influenced metropolitan society; and Rabin 2011 revisits the Somerset case. While the slave trade and slavery continue to be important subjects of research, increasing attention has been accorded to the ambiguous status of Africans in England and the ways perceptions, ethnic and racial categories, and practices of distinction and categorization evolved from the 16th to the 19th centuries. Carretta 2005 has instigated a highly controversial debate through the author’s work on Equiano (see under Biographies). Quantitative studies have also produced new insights: Chater 2009 uses data from a large number of English and Welsh parish records. King and Wood 2015 make use of the vast record holdings of the Old Bailey. Onyeka 2014 and Kaufmann 2017 both unearthed a significant amount of hitherto unknown documentary evidence concerning Africans in 16th-century Britain. The methodological problems associated with researching people of African descent in early modern Europe are synthesized in Habib 2016. Historical source databases, like the one on runaway slaves, increasingly serve as opportunities to employ the analytical tools of digital humanities in researching Africans in early modern Europe.

  • Amussen, Susan Dwyer. Caribbean Exchanges: Slaveholding and the Transformation of English Society, 1650–1700. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2007.

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    A lucid, well-organized book that provides a truly Atlantic perspective on 17th-century England. The author argues that the colonial experience in Barbados and Jamaica had a profound impact on English society. She stresses the significance of ideas on race and slavery that were reimported from the West Indies to England and the presence of black people in both rural and urban areas of England.

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  • Chater, Kathleen. Untold Histories: Black People in England and Wales during the Period of the British Slave Trade, c. 1660–1807. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 2009.

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    Based on comprehensive quantitative research, the author argues somewhat controversially that there was no racial discrimination against black people in 18th-century England, while other factors, most importantly class, were more significant. Nevertheless, the book provides an excellent discussion of relevant genealogical records and of the problems presented by different types of sources.

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  • Dresser, Madge. Slavery Obscured: The Social History of the Slave Trade in an English Provincial Port. London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2016.

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    An economic as well as social history of Bristol, which from 1730 to 1745 was Britain’s premier slaving port. It positions historical Bristol within the early modern Atlantic world and examines the heterogeneous and, at times, paradoxical results and repercussions of the slave trade in the lives of slaves, planters, British as well as African merchants, seamen, missionaries, and abolitionists. First published in 2001.

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  • Habib, Imtiaz. Black Lives in the English Archives, 1500–1677: Imprints of the Invisible. London: Routledge, 2016.

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    An important work by the late literary scholar Imtiaz Habib. He analyzes the mechanisms of the archive as a site of knowledge production. The book marks a crucial intervention because the plethora of archival records and documents found by Habib made obvious that the number of people of African descent in England was much larger than previously assumed. First published in 2008.

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  • Kaufmann, Miranda. Black Tudors: The Untold Story. London: Oneworld, 2017.

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    While it covers much of the same ground as Onyeka 2014, Black Tudors nevertheless offers a different perspective. The author details the lives of ten different persons, among them a diver, a court trumpeter, a silk weaver, and a queen’s lady in waiting, thus creating a kaleidoscopic panorama of African lives in 16th-century England. A very well-written, accessible narrative.

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  • King, Peter, and John Carter Wood. “Black People and the Criminal Justice System: Prejudice and Practice in Later Eighteenth- and Early Nineteenth-Century London.” Historical Research 88.239 (February 2015): 100–124.

    DOI: 10.1111/1468-2281.12063Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This article examines the experiences of black people as defendants, prosecutors, and witnesses at the Old Bailey in the 18th and early 19th centuries. Like Chater 2009, the authors conclude that there was no significant discrimination or systematic prejudice against people of African descent acting as prosecutors and witnesses at that time. Other ethnic minorities were treated very differently.

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  • Olusoga, David. Black and British: A Forgotten History. London: Macmillan, 2016.

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    Impressive history of the relationship between African and British people, ranging from the Roman period to 20th-century West Indian immigration, societal racism, and riots. Helpful to undergraduate as well as graduate students for understanding the longue durée of black British history.

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  • Onyeka. Blackamoores: Africans in Tudor England, Their Presence, Status and Origins. London: Narrative Eye, 2014.

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    A pioneering study of Africans living in England in the 16th and 17th centuries. Explores various aspects of the African presence, including the ambivalent and sometimes contradictory perception of Africans in Renaissance England. The author emphasizes that Africans were not automatically associated with slavery in England at that time, nor was dark skin necessarily regarded as negative. Of interest, too, is Onyeka’s frank critique of institutional indifference toward black British history.

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  • Rabin, Dana. “‘In a Country of Liberty?’ Slavery, Villeinage and the Making of Whiteness in the Somerset Case (1772).” History Workshop Journal 72.1 (2011): 5–29.

    DOI: 10.1093/hwj/dbq050Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This work is a relatively recent publication and presents a new perspective on the famous Somerset case, described by the author as a “consequence of empire at home.” She carefully dissects the semantics of freedom, slavery, race, and property, and, in doing so, she shows how in the course of the proceedings the legal categories of villeinage and slavery were clarified and racialized.

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  • Runaway Slaves in Britain: Bondage, Freedom and Race in the Eighteenth Century. University of Glasgow.

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    Searchable database created by a research project at the University of Glasgow. It contains more than eight hundred advertisements placed by owners of runaway slaves in various English and Scottish newspapers. While a majority of runaways were of African descent, the database contains entries for East Indians and Native Americans, too. This is a very welcome and rich source of information on enslaved or bound people of African descent in Britain.

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Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation

People of African descent have long been neglected in the historiography of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation. This is partly because the territories of the Old Empire had only very limited colonial holdings and operated a slave-trading company only for a short period of time. The Holy Roman Empire constituted a “hinterland” with regard to both the Mediterranean and the Atlantic slave trade. Thus, the pioneering monograph Martin 2001, originally published in 1993, for many years stood alone among a scattered handful of articles with a primarily local research focus. In recent years, however, research in this field has become very dynamic, as the publication of three edited volumes within a single decade demonstrates: the author of Sauer 2007 is not only the editor of the earliest of these but also a very prolific author on the Habsburg territories of the Holy Roman Empire, whereas Honeck, et al. 2013, as well as Brahm and Rosenhaft 2016 assemble chapters on a wide range of aspects, periods, and regions. New impulses for this currently booming field of research came, inter alia, from economic history, which shows a deep involvement of the old empire in transatlantic slave economies: German textile, metal, and glass industries produced goods for the slave trade. German merchants, shipowners, and bankers organized and financed the purchase and transport of enslaved people across international mercantile networks. Germans owned plantations, oversaw slaves as guards, and worked as soldiers, sailors, or physicians for other European powers. Consequently, they also brought people of African descent back with them to the German lands. The legal and social status of these people has been a highly controversial topic in German historiography: Whereas Lind 2004 and Kuhlmann-Smirnov 2013 tend to stress possibilities within the estate-based early modern German society, Mallinckrodt 2017 and Spohr 2018 are more skeptical: They claim that the emancipation of formerly enslaved people of African descent, whether by entering the German territories, by baptism, or by joining the trumpeter’s guild, cannot be upheld as a rule when examined more closely. Spohr 2018 discusses race while Mallinckrodt 2019 foregrounds age as additional important aspects to understanding the situation of people of African descent in the German territories. Complementary to this analysis of (possible) constraints, Morrison 2011 as well as Honeck, et al. 2013 and Ette 2014 (cited under Biographies) focus on agency, African contributions to European culture, and transcultural processes. Blom and Kos 2011 (cited under Biographies) shows the ambiguities of an African life in Vienna between opportunities for advancement and racism.

  • Brahm, Felix, and Eve Rosenhaft, eds. Slavery Hinterland: Transatlantic Slavery and Continental Europe, 1680–1850. Woodbridge, UK: Boydell & Brewer, 2016.

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    This edited volume brings to the fore the economic as well as direct involvement in transatlantic slavery and the slave trade by German, Italian, and Swiss protagonists in Europe, Africa, and the plantation economies between 1680 and 1850. In their introduction, the editors critically discuss the meaning and historiography of the term “hinterland” that connects all three continental powers. A chapter by Mallinckrodt discusses people of African descent in Prussia.

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  • Honeck, Mischa, Martin Klimke, and Anne Kuhlmann, eds. Germany and the Black Diaspora: Points of Contact, 1250–1914. New York: Berghahn, 2013.

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    This edited volume covers a long period of time from the 13th to the 20th centuries, discussing historical figures of African and Afro-American descent in Germany and the German colonies as well as representations of Africans in art, literature, and the (popular) sciences. It pays special attention to transnational and entangled histories and transcultural negotiations without denying asymmetrical power relations.

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  • Kuhlmann-Smirnov, Anne. Schwarze Europäer im Alten Reich: Handel, Migration, Hof. Göttingen, Germany: V & R Unipress, 2013.

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    In her PhD dissertation Kuhlmann-Smirnov focuses on so-called “court moors” within the networks of nobility surrounding the Cirksena family. The function of these “court moors” within courtly representation plays a central role, whereas black agency and black diaspora studies are relegated to the background. The author provides a valuable overview of 380 historically documented people of African descent, recorded by name between 1600 and 1800 in the old German empire.

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  • Lind, Vera. “Privileged Dependency on the Edge of the Atlantic World: Africans and Germans in the Eighteenth Century.” In Interpreting Colonialism. Edited by Byron R. Wells and Philip Stewart, 369–391. Oxford: Voltaire Foundation, 2004.

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    The author coins the term “privileged dependency” to characterize the ambiguous situation of people of African descent in 18th-century Germany, who, according to Lind, were socially and economically privileged compared to many other people of the lower strata, but who were more dependent on their patron. Lind connects German perceptions of slavery in North America, black lives in German society, and the contemporary anthropological debate on differences in humanity in this contribution.

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  • Mallinckrodt, Rebekka von. “Verhandelte (Un-)Freiheit: Sklaverei, Leibeigenschaft und innereuropäischer Wissenstransfer am Ausgang des 18. Jahrhunderts.” Geschichte und Gesellschaft 43.3 (2017): 347–380.

    DOI: 10.13109/gege.2017.43.3.347Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Award-winning article that proves that the legal concept of slavery was applied on German soil. It examines 18th-century court cases and petitions that also drew on international (anti-) slavery networks. The chapter reveals entanglements between slavery and serfdom, which was still in place and thus explains why these debates on personal freedom were so virulent. Sections of this article have been translated into English in Brahm and Rosenhaft 2016.

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  • Mallinckrodt, Rebekka von. “Verschleppte Kinder im Heiligen Römischen Reich Deutscher Nation und die Grenzen transkultureller Mehrfachzugehörigkeit.” In Transkulturelle Mehrfachzugehörigkeit als kulturhistorisches Phänomen: Räume—Materialitäten— Erinnerungen. Edited by Dagmar Freist, Sabine Kyora, and Melanie Unseld, 15–37. Bielefeld, Germany: Transcript Verlag, 2019.

    DOI: 10.14361/9783839445280-003Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This chapter argues that youth was a characteristic feature of victims of human trafficking in the early modern Holy Roman Empire. It explains the practical, ideological, and emotional reasons for why children were especially sought after, sketches geographical and social dimensions of the phenomenon, discusses the role of gender, and deliberates the consequences for the children affected.

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  • Martin, Peter. Schwarze Teufel, edle Mohren: Afrikaner in Geschichte und Bewußtsein der Deutschen. Hamburg, Germany: Hamburger Edition, 2001.

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    Pioneering work that was first published in 1993. Taking a broad temporal and conceptual approach, it reaches from the 10th to the 19th centuries, covering discourses on Africa and Africans, representations in the arts and sciences, as well as historical persons. It focuses on people of African descent as projections of fear, hate, and hope by their German contemporaries, especially in times of profound change.

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  • Morrison, Heather. “Dressing Angelo Soliman.” Eighteenth-Century Studies 44.3 (2011): 361–382.

    DOI: 10.1353/ecs.2011.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A contribution that copes with the notoriously asymmetrical tradition of sources that have been passed down to us in an original way and makes black agency visible: Although clothing was normally assigned in an eclectic manner to court moors independently of their geographical and cultural origins, Morrison shows that Angelo Soliman deliberately chose his clothing to reflect his belonging to different cultures after being dismissed by Prince Liechtenstein.

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  • Sauer, Walter. Von Soliman zu Omofuma: Afrikanische Diaspora in Österreich 17. bis 20. Jahrhundert. Innsbruck, Austria: Studienverlag, 2007.

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    Of the many publications by Walter Sauer that focus on the Habsburg territories of the Holy Roman Empire, this edited volume ranges from the 17th to the 20th centuries. It includes a rich empirical study by him and Andrea Wiesböck on “moors” in Vienna in the 17th to 18th centuries as well as two contributions by Sauer on the “myth and reality” of Angelo Soliman and the contemporary Afro-Austrian diaspora.

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  • Spohr, Arne. “Zunftmitgliedschaft als Weg zur Freiheit? Zur rechtlichen und sozialen Position schwarzer Hoftrompeter und -pauker im Alten Reich.” In Wege: Festschrift für Susanne Rode-Breymann. Edited by Annette Kreutziger-Herr, Nine Noeske, Nicole K. Strohmann, Antje Turna, Melanie Unseld, and Stefan Weiss, 357–366. Hildesheim, Germany: Georg Olms Verlag, 2018.

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    In this chapter the musicologist Arne Spohr deconstructs the “myth” that formerly enslaved people of African descent could win their freedom by joining the imperial guild of the trumpeters and kettledrummers. Elaborating on two 17th-century German case studies, he argues that beyond the social and legal status, race has to be taken into account.

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Italy

The state of research on people of African descent in Italy is the reverse of the situation in France: A plethora of work is available on the 15th and 16th centuries, corresponding to the extensive available research on the Italian Renaissance in general, whereas only a few publications cover the 18th century. This is the case because Italy did not take part in early modern colonization projects beyond the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, and enslavement practices declined. Accordingly, we know a lot about the continuities of enslavement practices between the late medieval and the Early Modern periods, which provide the focus for Epstein 2001. However, the fact that slaves could still be found in early-19th-century Italy was put forward only in Bono 1999 and Bonazza 2019, which simultaneously show that a shift from domestic slavery to galley slavery, and thus from the private to the public sphere, had taken place. Research on Africans in Renaissance Italy is complex and multifarious: It reaches from sub-Saharan envoys and ambassadors to the Italian states and their diplomatic interactions to people of (partly) African descent in positions of power (Lowe 2007, Brackett 2005), and it encompasses intellectual biographies like Davis 2006, a work on Leo Africanus (cited under Biographies). It includes analyses of iconographic representations of black Africans as well as enslavement practices, explaining that sexual services were an important reason why female slaves were especially sought after (Kaplan 2005). This body of research also shows possibilities for emancipation and advancement, as well as religious and cultural appropriation (Lowe 2008 and Lowe 2013). McKee 2008 notes a discrepancy between the large amount of interest in sub-Saharan Africans in Renaissance Italy and their low incidence among domestic slaves (with significant differences between northern and southern Italy), as Italian slaves in the 15th and 16th centuries mainly came from the eastern Mediterranean (they were Russian, Circassian, Tatar, Bosnian, Serb, and Albanian) and from North Africa. McKee attributes this interest to later developments in Atlantic slavery. Although Italy did not take part in the enslavement of sub-Saharan Africans on a large scale in the context of the transatlantic slave trade, an abolitionist movement did exist in Italy. Bonazza 2019 analyzes this movement and demonstrates that it came into conflict with much older but still persistent enslavement practices in the Mediterranean region. Most current research traces interlinkages between the two systems of commerce in people and goods that are usually viewed separately. Equally, Pomara 2017, a work on Spanish Moriscos (i.e., descendants of Arab Muslims who had lived in Spain for several centuries) who fled to Italy in the 17th century, subverts simple juxtapositions of Muslim and Christian worlds in an original way.

  • Bonazza, Giulia. Abolitionism and the Persistence of Slavery in Italian States, 1750–1850. Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019.

    DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-01349-3Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    In her PhD dissertation, Bonazza creatively combines a study of Italian abolitionist discourse opposing the Atlantic trade with the persistence of forms of (Mediterranean) slavery in the Italian states, thus bringing together two systems of slavery that are usually analyzed separately. Although only a minority of slaves in the Italian states in the 18th and 19th centuries were of sub-Saharan origin, racial tensions were clearly present.

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  • Bono, Salvatore. Schiavi musulmani nell’Italia moderna: Galeotti, vu’ cumpra,’ domestici. Naples, Italy: Edizioni Scientifiche Italiane, 1999.

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    In contrast to a more current book by Bono, Schiavi: Una storia mediterranea (XVI–XIX secolo) (Bologna, Italy: Società Editrice il Mulino, 2016), this work specifically deals with Muslim slaves in Italy from the 16th to the early 19th centuries. Often it is not possible to further disentangle geographical or ethnic origin as the contemporary language was ambiguous. Contrasting with the primarily private use of slaves as domestic servants in Renaissance Italy, slaves in subsequent centuries were mainly used by the state as galley oarsmen or for construction work.

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  • Brackett, John K. “Race and Rulership: Alessandro de’ Medici, First Medici Duke of Florence, 1529–1537.” In Black Africans in Renaissance Europe. Edited by Thomas Foster Earle and Kate Lowe, 303–325. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

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    Brackett argues that Alessandro de’ Medici, the first Medici duke of Florence, was the son of a freed slave. Even though his skin color is never mentioned in contemporary sources, Brackett uses artistic evidence to support the conclusion that his mother was a black African woman. The author reasons that Alessandro’s nobility was more important than his skin color: Insults toward Alessandro referred to his mother’s peasant status, not to her “race,” while he himself was criticized for being a tyrant.

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  • Epstein, Steven A. Speaking of Slavery: Color, Ethnicity, and Human Bondage in Italy. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2001.

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    This classic work focuses on slavery in medieval Italy, with a particular focus on its language. Because Epstein is interested in and shows examples of this experience in early modern and modern times as well, it is also valuable for the study of later epochs. People of African descent are included as one group of enslaved people, among others, who primarily came from eastern Europe and Central Asia at the time.

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  • Kaplan, Paul H. D. “Isabella d’Este and Black African Women.” In Black Africans in Renaissance Europe. Edited by Thomas Foster Earle and Kate Lowe, 125–154. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

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    Kaplan shows that Isabelle d’Este and Andrea Mantegna generated a new and influential female version of an already-known iconographic type: the black African attendant to a white European protagonist. This kind of genre painting was closely linked to a specific social practice: Isabella and members of her family are the most well known of a number of 15th-century patrons who avidly sought captive black African children to add to their collection of slaves, servants, and objects of curiosity.

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  • Lowe, Kate. “‘Representing Africa’: Ambassadors and Princes from Christian Africa to Renaissance Italy and Portugal, 1402–1608.” Transactions of the Royal Historical Society 17 (2007): 101–128.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0080440107000552Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    During the 15th and 16th centuries, a number of sub-Saharan envoys and ambassadors from Christian countries, predominantly Ethiopia and the Congo, were sent to Portugal and Italy. This essay shows how cultural assumptions on both sides complicated their task of “representing” Africa. Renaissance preconceptions of Africa and Africans, reinforced by the slave trade, and assumptions about diplomatic interaction resulted in unsatisfactory encounters.

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  • Lowe, Kate. “Black Africans’ Religious and Cultural Assimilation to, or Appropriation of, Catholicism in Italy, 1470–1520.” Renaissance and Reformation 31.2 (Spring 2008): 67–86.

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    Lowe discusses three examples of the choices of sub-Saharan Africans in religious matters: the rare depiction of a black donor in a pious painting, an Ethiopian woman’s will requesting the reading of masses, and practices of naming newborns after Christian saints. The last example also shows that acceptance of Africans as Catholics in Renaissance Italy remained contested: The names of saints were accompanied by terms that labelled the children as black.

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  • Lowe, Kate. “Visible Lives: Black Gondoliers and Other Black Africans in Renaissance Venice.” Renaissance Quarterly 66.2 (Summer 2013): 412–452.

    DOI: 10.1086/671583Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Although black Africans were highly visible in a predominantly white society, naming practices and linguistic usage render them virtually invisible in documentary sources. However, it is still possible to identify black gondoliers in the lists of gondoliers’ associations and criminal records. Being a gondolier served as a niche occupation for some black Africans, allowing them to manage their transition to freedom and to integrate successfully into Venetian society.

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  • McKee, Sally. “Domestic Slavery in Renaissance Italy.” Slavery & Abolition 29.3 (September 2008): 305–326.

    DOI: 10.1080/01440390802267774Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Sub-Saharan Africans constituted a minority among domestic slaves in Renaissance Italy. Thus, according to the author, interest in black Africans in Italy is more inspired by later developments in Atlantic slavery than by empirical data from the peninsula. Still, McKee demonstrates that, on the one hand, because of their rarity black Africans were highly sought after, whereas, on the other hand, lower prices demanded for them in comparison to lighter-skinned slaves suggest prejudices against black people.

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  • Pomara, Bruno. I rifugiati: I moriscos e l’Italia. Florence: Florence University Press, 2017.

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    This award-winning monograph shows that the history of people of African descent in Europe is more complex than any binary conceptions of history suggest: After the Reconquista, descendants of Arab Muslims who had lived in Spain for centuries had to convert to Christianity but were expulsed in the early 17th century. Whereas the majority were sent to North Africa, thousands went to Italy.

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Netherlands

A considerable amount of scholarly engagement is available on the presence of people of African descent in the early modern Netherlands, particularly the Northern Netherlands, and it frequently intersects with an interest in early modern slavery. Through its presentation of findings from older scholarship alongside original research, Maduro and Oostindie 1986 has become a standard source on African-descended people from Suriname and the Antilles in the Low Countries. Building on these foundations, Blakely 1993 interrogates the production of race in a “Dutch world” encompassing not only the Netherlands but also its colonial outposts. The work contains sections on folklore, art, literature, and religion alongside biographical sketches. The most recent comprehensive overview of people of African descent in the Low Countries is Haarnack and Hondius 2008. The text functions as a detailed guide to relevant older scholarship and assiduously discusses the different social positions that persons of African descent occupied. Besides free and enslaved servants, it touches upon early modern African-descended artists, envoys, wealthy travelers, and merchant families. A number of relevant case studies, biographies, and publications centered on slavery have invigorated the field in recent years. Hondius 2009 and Ponte 2019 discuss cases in the 16th and 17th centuries: the fate of African captives on a privateer slave ship that landed in Zeeland in 1596 and an early modern community of people of African descent in Amsterdam, respectively. In the field of slavery studies, Fatah-Black and van Rossum 2015 provides a concise overview, discusses historiographical problems, and points to several cases of people of African descent implicated in slavery. The Mapping Slavery NL foregrounds the geographical issues involved in researching enslaved people (not only of African descent) in the Netherlands. Its city-specific guidebooks are slim but well-researched volumes intended to facilitate further inquiry. Fatah-Black and Oostindie 2017 is a recent addition to work in that genre. While it is not affiliated with the Mapping Slavery NL, it is an engaging and thorough guide to slavery in Leiden’s past. Everts 2002 and Vrij 2015 explore the ambiguities in the lives of women of African descent in their micro-historical and biographical works. Everts 2002 discusses the lives of two Euro-African women living between the Netherlands and the West African coast, while Vrij 2015 studies the nexus of gender, enslavement, and poverty in the lives of three Afro-Caribbean women. For monographs on the missionary Jacobus Capitein and two African-descended employees at the stadtholder’s court, see Capitein and Parker 2001 as well as Schreuder 2017 (both cited under Biographies).

  • Blakely, Allison. Blacks in the Dutch World: The Evolution of Racial Imagery in a Modern Society. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1993.

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    Blakely’s wide-ranging and interdisciplinary work covers images and representation as much as historical presence. The chapter “The Black Presence in the Dutch World” (pp. 225–276) extends its scope beyond the Netherlands and Flanders to the Dutch colonies. A compelling introduction to the field with a solid argument.

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  • Everts, Natalie. “‘Brought Up Well according to European Standards’: Helena van der Burgh and Wilhelmina van Naarssen; Two Christian Women from Elmina.” In Merchants, Missionaries and Migrants: 300 Years of Dutch-Ghanaian Relations. Edited by Ineke van Kessel, 101–109. Amsterdam: KIT, 2002.

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    Everts’s brief but methodically annotated text highlights the lives of two Euro-African women who moved between the Netherlands and West Africa. The author draws attention to class distinctions between slave-trading and enslaved families, gender roles, inheritance negotiations, transcontinental communication, and the role of Christianity for these individuals. Based on extensive research in the archives of the Dutch West India Company.

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  • Fatah-Black, Karwan, and Gert Oostindie. Sporen van de slavernij in Leiden. Leiden, The Netherlands: Leiden Publications, 2017.

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    An informed and well-sourced guide to Leiden’s slavery connections that includes several entries on the presence of people of African descent in the city. Its thorough annotation of sources and literature makes this a valuable starting point for further research, especially as it includes recent scholarship published on nontraditional platforms.

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  • Fatah-Black, Karwan, and Matthias van Rossum. “Slavery in a ‘Slave Free Enclave’? Historical Links between the Dutch Republic, Empire and Slavery, 1580s–1860s.” Werkstatt Geschichte 23.1–2 (March 2015): 55–73.

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    A lucid and thorough introduction to individual cases and scholarly debates. The text strongly refutes the myth of the Dutch Republic being a slavery-free territory. It covers the presence of enslaved people of African and Asian descent in the Netherlands and analyzes both the practices of enslavement and the challenges posed to those practices by enslaved people pursuing their freedom.

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  • Haarnack, Carl, and Dienke Hondius. “‘Swart’ (Black) in the Netherlands: Africans and Creoles in the Northern Netherlands from the Middle Ages to the Twentieth Century.” In Black Is Beautiful: Rubens to Dumas. Edited by Vincent Boele, Esther Schreuder, and Elmar Kolfin, 88–106. Amsterdam: De Nieuwe Kerk, 2008.

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    A succinct overview of research themes and individual persons of African descent in the Northern Netherlands with a focus on early modern and 19th-century cases. Although it does not contain original research, the authors present a rich and nuanced tableau of cases and persons ranging from visiting diplomats to artists and enslaved people. Guides readers to obscure essays and source material as well as to recent scholarship.

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  • Hondius, Dienke. “Blacks in Early Modern Europe: New Research from the Netherlands.” In Black Europe and the African Diaspora. Edited by Darlene Clark Hine, Trica Danielle Keaton, and Stephen Small, 29–47. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2009.

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    Includes an in-depth study of a captured slave ship landed in Zeeland in 1596 and the authorities’ reactions to the presence of enslaved people of African descent on Dutch soil. The text dispels the previously held notion that captives were declared free and seamlessly integrated into local society. Contextualizes findings within broader historiographical traditions.

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  • Maduro, Emy, and Gert Oostindie. In het land van de overheerser II: Antillianen en Surinamer in Nederland, 1624/1667–1954. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Foris, 1986.

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    A comprehensive study of West Indian and Surinamese people of African descent in the Netherlands from early modern times to the 20th century. The first part on Surinamese persons includes a larger section on early modern presence, while the second part points to research gaps and highlights cases from the 19th and 20th centuries.

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  • Mapping Slavery NL.

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    Initiated by historians at the Free University Amsterdam in 2013, this project has spawned city tours, interactive maps, and a number of well-researched guidebooks on the history of slavery in several Dutch cities and, frequently, their historical residents of African descent. Publications have covered Amsterdam, Groningen, Utrecht, and the Netherlands as a whole. A helpful basis for those intending to conduct localized studies.

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  • Ponte, Mark. “‘Al de swarten die hier ter stede comen’: Een Afro-Atlantische gemeenschap in zeventiende-eeuws Amsterdam.” TSEG/ Low Countries Journal of Social and Economic History 15.4 (2019): 33–62.

    DOI: 10.18352/tseg.995Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Based primarily on church registers, this article argues that a distinct Lusophone community of African descent existed in Amsterdam between the 1630s and the 1660s. It presents evidence for spatially proximal living quarters, shared employment predominantly in the maritime sector, and tight-knit connections visible in marriage and godparenthood patterns. Emphasizes the central role of women within the community and the Dutch imperial expansion in Brazil as a possible context.

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  • Vrij, Jean Jacques. “Susanna Dumion en twee van haar lotgenoten: Drie Afro Westindische vrouwen in achttiende-eeuws Amsterdam.” Wi Rutu, Tijdschrift voor Surinaamse Genealogie 15.1 (2015): 18–31.

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    Focusing on three women who arrived in the Netherlands from Suriname in the 18th century, the author raises questions about the role of gender in enslavement practices. He hypothesizes that female servants of African descent were subject to prolonged dependency and enslavement in Dutch households, resulting in a higher risk of poverty in old age. As a journal, Wi Rutu is an indispensable source for case studies of Dutch-Surinamese biographies and genealogies.

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Portugal

It is impossible to discuss people of African descent in early modern Portugal without discussing slavery. Because of the long history of different forms of slavery on the Iberian Peninsula, as well as the intermingling of Christian, Muslim, and Jewish populations, a complex relationship exists between various social and ethnic categories that far surpasses the simple distinction between free and unfree. People of African descent formed a large segment of the unfree and the manumitted population but they were by no means the only group of enslaved or manumitted people. Almeida Mendes 2016 and Fonseca 2010a show that the situation became even more complex through emigration and transports from the colonies to Portugal. Histories of slavery in Portugal were already produced in the early 19th century. However, since the late 20th century, scholarly interest in the topic has grown considerably. This seems to have been instigated by the works of historians from outside Portugal, for instance, the seminal demographic work Saunders 1982 and Didier Lahon’s important thesis on slaves in Lisbon and the importance of black church fraternities in 2001 (see Lahon 2010). Today, historians have arrived at a sophisticated understanding of the complex realities governing the lives of Africans and their descendants in early modern Portugal. There are two main areas of research in recent scholarship. Almeida Mendes 2016, Lahon 2010, Fonseca 2010b, and Walker 2004 mostly discuss the development and institutionalization of racial categories, while other works, such as Ribeiro da Silva 2013 and Rodrigues 2013, focus on actors and mechanisms of the slave trade in Portugal’s imperial network in the Atlantic and beyond. Due to the large number of people of African descent living in Portugal during the Early Modern period, other academic disciplines have produced significant contributions, too. A striking example is the archaeological and anthropological research on the numerous slave burial sites found in Lagos presented in Almeida and Neves 2015.

  • Almeida Mendes, António de. “Escravidão e raça em Portugal: Uma experiência de longa duração.” In Escravidão e subjetividades. Edited by Myriam Cottias and Hebe Mattos. Marseille, France: OpenEdition Press, 2016.

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    Lucid and stimulating essay linking the gradual abolition of slavery in Portugal to the evolution of racial prejudice and a reordering of labor relations. Describes two parallel processes in Portugal in the 18th and 19th centuries: As enlightened reformers came to regard slavery as a threat to the moral and physical well-being of the nation, they instituted policies that resulted in the abolition of slavery in Portugal but also in newly racialized notions of servitude.

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  • Almeida, Miguel, and Maria João Neves. “O caso do ‘Poço dos Negros’ (Lagos): Da urgência do Betão ao conhecimento das práticas esclavagistas no Portugal moderno a partir de uma escavação de arqueologia preventiva.” Antrope 2 (July 2015): 142–160.

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    Article discussing the significance of slave burial sites dating from the 15th century discovered in the Valle de Gafaria area of Lagos in 2009. The dead had been buried in an early modern waste pit situated outside the city walls. It is the first excavation of its kind in Europe, yielding rich bio-archaeological information otherwise hard to come by. The article highlights the importance of historical research for understanding and protecting such historic sites.

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  • Fonseca, Jorge. Escravos e senhores na Lisboa quinhentista. Lisbon, Portugal: Edições Colibri, 2010a.

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    In-depth study based on a PhD dissertation on slaves and masters in 16th-century Lisbon. It offers detailed new insights into the origins, activities, and professions of slaves, manumitted persons, and slave masters in 16th-century Lisbon. It gives a good sense of the positions occupied by people of African descent within the complex interplay of free and unfree populations. Also includes fascinating research on Japanese and Chinese captives.

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  • Fonseca, Jorge. “Black Africans in Portugal during Cleynaert’s Visit.” In Black Africans in Renaissance Europe. Edited by Thomas Foster Earle and Kate J. P. Lowe, 113–122. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2010b.

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    The author contrasts the observations of the 16th-century Flemish humanist Nicholas Cleynaerts concerning African slaves in Portugal with results of recent research. He discusses the relationships between slaves and masters, unfree and freedmen, and male and female, as well as the discursive strategies employed by Cleynaerts in his critique of Portuguese society. This is a well-structured essay based on an accessible source, making it ideal for discussion in the classroom.

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  • Fonseca, Jorge. “A historiografia sobre os escravos em Portugal.” Cultura: Revista de História e Teoria das Ideias 33 (2014): 191–218.

    DOI: 10.4000/cultura.2422Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A comprehensive survey of the historiography of slavery and Africans in Portugal from the 19th century to the 21st century. The final section is a synthesis of the most recent Portuguese and international research. Indispensable for anyone with a serious interest in the topic.

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  • Lahon, Didier. “Black African Slaves and Freedmen in Portugal during the Renaissance: Creating a New Pattern of Reality.” In Black Africans in Renaissance Europe. Edited by Thomas Foster Earle and Kate J. P. Lowe, 261–279. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

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    A fascinating study of the confraternity of Nossa Senhora do Rosário in Lisbon, which contained separate branches for white and black members. It describes how, during the 17th century, support for manumission and protection of slaves gave way to fear of “interbreeding” and “tainted purity.” The author interprets this as a symptom of a relatively open and tolerant society becoming increasingly rigid and prejudiced.

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  • Ribeiro da Silva, Filipa. “O tráfico de escravos para o Portugal setecentista: Uma visão a partir do ‘Despacho dos Negros da Índia, de Caccheo e de Angola’ na Casa da Índia de Lisboa.” Saeculum: Revista de História 29 (2013): 47–73.

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    This helpful essay tackles several lacunae in the historiography of the slave trade in Portugal. It details the numbers of slaves imported into Lisbon as well as their geographical and ethnic origin, and it analyzes the backgrounds of slave buyers and slave traders. The author carefully points out the continuities tying the 18th-century Portuguese slave trade to the late medieval and early-15th-century Iberian slave trade.

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  • Rodrigues, Jaime. “Marinheiros forros e escravos em Portugal e na América Portuguesa (c. 1760–c. 1825).” Revista de História Comparada 7.1 (2013): 9–35.

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    This article presents archival research on slaves and manumitted slaves employed as sailors in Portuguese transatlantic shipping. These men worked mostly in long-distance navigation, sailing between the ports located in the Portuguese domains. Interesting contribution to current understandings of various forms of labor that employed both enslaved and manumitted individuals of African descent.

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  • Saunders, A. C. de C. M. A Social History of Black Slaves and Freedmen in Portugal, 1441–1555. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1982.

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    A pioneering and comprehensive study of slavery in Portugal in the 15th and 16th centuries. Saunders is able to provide new insights into demographics and the social and legal practices of slavery in Portugal. This work has proven to be very influential; a Portuguese translation was published in 1994. It still provides a good starting point for scholars and students interested in the topic.

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  • Walker, Timothy. “Sorcerers and Folkhealers: Africans and the Inquisition in Portugal, 1680–1800.” Revista Lusófona de Ciência das Religiões 3.5 (2004): 83–98.

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    Fascinating article based on twenty-seven Inquisition trials of persons of Luso-African descent who stood accused of sorcery or other crimes associated with magic. The author argues that manumitted slaves were more isolated and vulnerable than slaves and poor whites in early modern Portugal. Not only did they suffer from racial prejudice against people of African descent but they also lacked the protection afforded by belonging to a master’s household.

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Scandinavia

Research on people of African descent in early modern Scandinavia is comparatively underdeveloped and predominantly published in Danish, Swedish, or Norwegian. However, accessibility and scholarly attention have increased in recent years. Most people of African descent appear to have lived in the region as either free or enslaved servants but there are also known cases of sailors, prisoners, and Euro-African missionaries. Research in this field is spearheaded by the classic, albeit hard to access Waaben 1964, and it has made fruitful use of court records and census data. These sources have allowed researchers to gauge both the legal status and the number of servants of African descent present in Scandinavia. Waaben focuses on legal debates around an 1802 Copenhagen court decision that confirmed the enslaved status of a young man of African descent, an approach adopted in Olsen 1987 as well. Olsen’s text provides a detailed and still relevant analysis of the life worlds and legal and social status of people of African descent. Nielsen 2009 supplements this by a somewhat conjectural discussion of the role of race and racism. Østhus 2018 presents a firmer empirical basis; the essay problematizes census data as a source, interrogates categorization mechanisms, and can serve as an excellent, recent introduction to the field. Valuable scholarship has also come in the form of case studies and biographies. European-African families living on the West African coast and the relocation of some of their members to Scandinavia are at the center of Ipsen 2015. Simonsen 2015 convincingly analyzes the difficulties encountered by the missionaries Fredrik Svane and Christian Protten in negotiating cross-cultural identities. Rebecca Protten, the latter’s wife, is the subject of Sensbach 2006 (cited under Biographies). Beyond the borders of contemporary Denmark, historiographic traditions have developed somewhat differently. In Norway, the retrieval of a sunken slave ship in Fredensborg in 1974, chronicled in Svalesen 2000, has catalyzed increased interest in African-descended persons and Norwegian involvement in the slave trade. The essays assembled in Bang and Kjerland 2002, particularly those by Gustav Sætra and Gunnar Molden, highlight recent findings in the field. For Sweden, Pred 2004 and Östlund 2017, two rather different but richly sourced studies on the well-known court employee Gustav Badin, discuss the perniciousness of racist tropes in Scandinavia and demonstrate the potential use of Swedish census data, respectively. For an artfully crafted biography of Hans Jonathan, subject of Denmark’s best-known slavery court case and eventual escapee to Iceland, see Pálsson 2016 (cited under Biographies).

  • Bang, Anne K., and Kirsten Alsaker Kjerland, eds. Nordmenn i Afrika—Afrikanere i Norge. Bergen, Norway: Vigmostad & Bjørke, 2002.

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    The first comprehensive scholarly volume systematically engaging with Norwegians in Africa and Africans in Norway. Tracing early modern connections, Gustav Sætra discusses the case of African-descended Adam, who in 1791 successfully sued for his freedom in the town of Arendal. Gunnar Molden analyzes the presence of North African merchants and their enslaved personnel in the same town in 1795.

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  • Ipsen, Pernille. Daughters of the Trade: Atlantic Slavers and Interracial Marriage on the Gold Coast. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015.

    DOI: 10.9783/9780812291971Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Ipsen argues that the Euro-Africans living at the Danish fort Christiansborg, unlike those in other African forts, had little reason to travel to Europe and rarely did so. Ipsen traces the exceptions to this rule in her third chapter, which narrates the journeys of a number of Euro-Africans to and from Europe. She eloquently contextualizes them within her account of European-African family relations on the African coast.

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  • Nielsen, Per. “Enslaved Africans in Denmark and the Quest for Freedom.” In Negotiating Enslavement: Perspectives on Slavery in the Danish West Indies. Edited by Arnold R. Highfield and George F. Tyson, 119–128. St. Croix, US Virgin Islands: Antilles Press, 2009.

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    Nielsen summarizes major research findings and presents his own research based on the 1801 Copenhagen census. He emphasizes the ambiguities inherent in racial appellations and estimates how many free and enslaved people of African descent may have been living in Denmark and Norway. The text remains somewhat cursory and is sparse on references but may serve as a starting point for interested anglophone students.

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  • Olsen, Poul Erik. “Disse vilde karle: Negre i Danmark indtil 1848.” In Fremmede i Danmark: 400 års fremmedpolitik. Edited by Bent Blüdnikow, 102–117. Odense, Denmark: Odense Universitetsforlag, 1987.

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    This crucial text has lost little of its accuracy or value (despite some outdated language). It lists relevant sources and analyzes the legal status of people of African descent in early modern Denmark in comparison to other European nations. Includes a discussion of social circumstances. A more recent but less thoroughly annotated version was published in 2017 in Danmark og kolonierne.

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  • Østhus, Hanne. “Slaver og ikke-europeiske tjenestefolk i Danmark-Norge på 1700- og begynnelsen av 1800-tallet.” Arbeiderhistorie 20.1 (2018): 33–47.

    DOI: 10.1826/issn.2387-5879-2018-01-03Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Østhus traces the question of how non-European servants were registered in Denmark and Norway in the 18th and 19th centuries. She shows how contingent factors influenced whether racial categories and enslaved/free status were included or left out. Contains a valuable up-to-date discussion of relevant historiography and in-depth case analyses.

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  • Östlund, Joachim. “Playing the White Knight: Badin, Chess, and Black Self-Fashioning in Eighteenth-Century Sweden.” In Migrating the Black Body: The African Diaspora and Visual Culture. Edited by Leigh Raiford and Heike Raphael-Hernandez, 79–94. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2017.

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    An interpretation of visual representations of the most famous person of African descent in early modern Sweden. Östlund meticulously assembles and references sources related not only to Badin but also to other persons of African descent in the country. The author stresses the possibilities inherent in studying census data. A helpful starting point for future research.

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  • Pred, Allan. The Past Is Not Dead: Facts, Fictions, and Enduring Racial Stereotypes. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2004.

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    Geographer Pred intersperses biographical writing on Sweden’s best-known court employee of African descent with a meditation on the longevity of racist thought. The author is particularly interested in the reception of Badin’s life, visual representations of African-descended people, and their effects on people of African descent in Sweden today. The work makes an excellent and thoughtful companion piece to the biographical, novelistic, and graphic novel treatments Badin’s story has inspired.

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  • Simonsen, Gunvor. “Belonging in Africa: Frederik Svane and Christian Protten on the Gold Coast in the Eighteenth Century.” Itinerario 39.1 (2015): 91–115.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0165115315000145Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Missionaries Frederik Svane and Christian Protten, both of mixed African and European descent, have been studied at length both for their exceptional life stories and for their relevance to early modern religious movements. This recent publication engages with existing scholarship, problematizes the Atlantic Creole concept, and studies the effects of both men’s stays in Europe on the perception of their own identities in Africa.

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  • Svalesen, Leif. The Slave Ship Fredensborg. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2000.

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    This popular history, translated from the 1996 Norwegian original, chronicles the voyage of the Fredensborg and its sinking in 1768 as well as its retrieval near Arendal, Norway, in 1974. Svalesen, a diver involved in the retrieval, minutely reconstructs the itineraries of the voyage but only mentions in passing the two African-descended enslaved people who survived the wreckage.

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  • Waaben, Knud. “A. S. Ørsted og negerslaverne i Københaven.” Juristen 46.12 (1964): 321–343.

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    Designed as a legal study, Waaben’s text analyzes the factors contributing to the 1802 confirmation of West Indian–born Hans Jonathan’s slave status, and queries what role the judge and later prime minister A. S. Ørsted played in it. Its groundbreaking analysis of the 1801 Copenhagen census reveals a significant group of servants of African descent in the city and has proven foundational for subsequent studies of people of African descent.

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Spain

While the ubiquity of slavery in early modern Spain may not be widely recognized among the Spanish public today, a longstanding historiographic tradition exists. In 1952, Antonio Domínguez Ortiz published a groundbreaking article on slavery in Castile, which heralded a general awakening of interest in the topic by medievalists and early modern historians. Charles Verlinden published a magisterial work on slavery in medieval Europe in two volumes between 1955 and 1977. Historians of the Mediterranean continued to study slavery in the region throughout the 20th century, with Italy and Spain figuring prominently in this research. The strong medievalist contribution is easily explained by the fact that Spain’s history of slavery began long before the Early Modern period. The Iberian Morisco population as well as the long-standing history of Mediterranean slavery position Spain as the point of convergence between Africa and Europe, Islam and Christendom, and at the intersection of the histories of slavery, captivity, and the evolution of ideas on race. Over the last two decades, scholars have produced a plethora of regional studies focused on ports, cities, or provinces (see, for example, Blumenthal 2009, Morgado García 2016, Martín Casares 2000, Periáñez Gómez 2010). Most of these publications are published in Spanish but some useful syntheses in English, like Phillips 2013, exist. Together they have contributed to the formation of a comprehensive understanding of the situation in late medieval and early modern Spain. Other studies focus on the cultural and social context: Martín Casares and Períañez Gómez 2014 and Behrend-Martínez 2015 deal with long-neglected gendered aspects of slavery; Méndez Rodríguez and Roe 2015 looks at slavery in the workshops of Seville’s painters; Moreno 1997 discusses one of the all-important black confraternities and its changing stance on slavery and members of African descent; and Rowe 2015 traces the history of the veneration of black saints and its connection to black confraternities. Martín Casares 2016 (cited under Biographies) contributes the biography of the 16th-century scholar and poet Juan Latino as another vivid example of religious and intellectual appropriation between cultures as well as self-fashioning and social advancement.

  • Behrend-Martínez, Edward. “Spain Violated: Foreign Men in Spain’s Heartland.” European Review of History: Revue Européenne d’Histoire 22 (2015): 579–594.

    DOI: 10.1080/13507486.2015.1028338Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Thought-provoking article about the evolution of early modern Spanish concepts of honor, status, gender, and sexuality. Based on cases prosecuted during the Inquisition and in ecclesiastical court, the author argues that foreign men were increasingly perceived as a threat to Spanish women and thus to patriarchal Spanish society. Two cases concern servants of African descent who were tried for fornication.

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  • Blumenthal, Debra. Enemies and Familiars: Slavery and Mastery in Fifteenth-Century Valencia. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2009.

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    Explores the daily lives of Valencia’s multiethnic slave population, which included captive moors, enslaved Mudejars, Greeks, Tatars, Russians, Circassians, and, by the end of the 15th century, a large (almost 40 percent) population of black Africans. The author argues that slaves in Valencia were actively pursuing manumission and social status, and she challenges the notion that slaves in early modern Spain were predominantly employed as household servants.

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  • Martín Casares, Aurelia. La esclavitud en Granada en el siglo XVI: Género, raza y religión. Granada, Spain: Editorial Universidad de Granada, 2000.

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    This pioneering and in-depth investigation of African slavery in 16th-century Granada is based on the author’s doctoral dissertation. It covers all aspects of early modern slavery, including gender, age, religion, legislation, manumission, marriage, labor regimes, and resistance. It includes not only enslaved people of African descent but also the enslaved Morisco population of Granada. Also provides a detailed discussion of available sources for the study of slavery in early modern Spain.

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  • Martín Casares, Aurelia, and Rocío Períañez Gómez, eds. Mujeres esclavas y abolicionistas en la España de los siglos XVI al XIX. Madrid: Iberomaricana, 2014.

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    This is an important collection of essays for students and scholars interested in gendered aspects of Iberian slavery. The volume is organized into two sections: The essays in the first section deal with visual representation, social status, and ways for female slaves to seek freedom. The essays in the second part discuss the lives and writings of abolitionist women in early-19th-century Spain.

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  • Méndez Rodríguez, Luis, and Jeremy Roe. “Slavery and the Guild in Golden Age Painting in Seville.” Art in Translation 7.1 (2015): 123–139.

    DOI: 10.2752/175613115X14235644692392Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This essay covers one of the many sectors of labor in which slaves were used. While some very interesting research on Africans in Spanish and Portuguese confraternities exists, a gap exists with regard to people of African descent in guilds. This article aptly demonstrates the importance of studying nonstate actors like guilds, which actively regulated the use and manumission of slaves.

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  • Moreno, Isidoro. La antigua hermandad de los negros de Sevilla: Etnicidad, poder y sociedad en 600 años de historia. Seville, Spain: Universidad de Sevilla, 1997.

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    This comprehensive study describes the fascinating history of a black confraternity founded in late medieval Seville. The author describes confraternities as the only places where people of African descent could formally assert a common identity within Spanish society. The members exercised full control over membership, finances, and administration. However, the book also highlights the pressures of ethnic categorization and identification from the 17th to the 19th centuries.

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  • Morgado García, Arturo. “El ciclo vital de los esclavos en el Cádiz de la modernidad.” Revista de Historia Moderna: Anales de la Universidad de Alicante 34 (2016): 297–315.

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    This article presents the results of a detailed demographic study of the life trajectories of slaves in Cádiz. In the 17th and 18th centuries, this city housed one of the largest slave populations in early modern Spain. Demographic findings on birth, marriage, sickness, and death are discussed in great detail, as are the peculiar methodological problems presented by such a heterogeneous group as the slaves of Cádiz.

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  • Periáñez Gómez, Rocío. Negros, mulatos y blancos: Los esclavos en Extremadura durante la edad moderna. Badajoz, Spain: Diputación de Badajoz, 2010.

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    An exhaustive regional study of slavery in the Extremadura from the 16th to the 18th centuries. Based on the author´s PhD dissertation, this book covers a broad spectrum of aspects of slavery, from the slave trade to servant-master relationships, child slavery, sexuality and miscegenation, confraternities and beliefs, manumission, and fugitive slaves. It argues that slavery and the slave trade spread from major trading centers to provincial areas like the Extremadura.

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  • Phillips, William D. Slavery in Medieval and Early Modern Iberia. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013.

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    An engaging synthesis that presents a longue durée overview of slavery in the Iberian Peninsula. Well suited to students or those interested in comparing different forms of slavery. Discusses a variety of aspects, including traffic in slaves, labor relations, and manumission. It emphasizes the significance of Iberian traditions of slavery for understanding the history of slavery in the Atlantic world.

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  • Rowe, Erin Kathleen. “Visualizing Black Sanctity in Early Modern Spanish Polychrome Sculpture.” In Envisioning Others: Race, Color, and the Visual in Iberia and Latin America. Edited by Pamela A. Patton, 51–82. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2015.

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    This essay introduces the reader to the fascinating history of the devotion to black saints. The author analyzes these visual representations alongside their locations and patronage. Unsurprisingly. these practices exist in regions with large slave populations and black confraternities. The author lucidly details the role of black congregations, black and white parishioners’ changing practices of veneration, and the shifting meanings of blackness of these visual representations.

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