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"Before the British Empire and the Atlantic slave ...." Topic

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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP19 Jan 2018 10:40 a.m. PST

…trade, Africans lived freely in Tudor England.

"Juan Gelofe, an enslaved 40-year-old Wolof man from West Africa, had a conversation with an English sailor, William Collins, in a Mexican silver mine in 1572. Juan remarked that England ‘must be a good country as there were no slaves there'. Collins confirmed: ‘It was true, that there they were all freemen.' Spanish officials sang the same tune: in 1586 Pedro de Arana wrote to the Spanish House of Trade from Havana, commenting that in Francis Drake's country ‘negro labourers' were free.

When the question arose in an English court of law in 1569, it was resolved ‘that England has too pure an Air for Slaves to breathe in'. This was consistent with the absence of any legislation on the status of slavery under English law. Parliament never issued any law codes delineating slavery to compare with the Portuguese Ordenações Manuelinas (1481-1514), the Dutch East India Ordinances (1622), France's Code Noir (1685) or the codes that appeared in Virginia and other American states from the 1670s…"
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robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP19 Jan 2018 11:29 a.m. PST

Ummm. Who exactly thought this was a mystery or a surprise? And why does it say "Before the Atlantic Slave Trade?" There were never many slaves or serfs in England. There were none by Tudor times.

Nor did this ever change. Englishmen could and did engage in the Atlantic slave trade even in Tudor times, and Englishmen resident overseas might enact slave codes and live under them. But there was no slave code in Britain, and recognition of the fact of slavery (1729 and 1749) was based on no law, and no precedent under common law. Mansfield (1772) settled the argument at a time when the ownership of slaves in the British Empire was probably as extensive as it ever would be.

Now, if someone would like to argue about whether Austen's Mansfield Park is a reference to that decision--then we could have an argument.

Personal logo Narratio Supporting Member of TMP19 Jan 2018 7:01 p.m. PST

Robert, in an age of rampant PC and hurt feelings, I believe it's an item of faith in media (social, national, whatever) and modern university curricula that ALL white male led western countries (especially those tagged as 'Empires' or with the word 'Industrial' in the description) made slaves of everybody else.

That's why white males are bad you see?

But maybe I'm being bitter.

Supercilius Maximus Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member26 Jan 2018 4:06 a.m. PST

Interesting how many people now use the term "Atlantic Slave Trade". Pure coincidence, I'm sure, that the use of this phrase serves to obscure the African involvement in (a) starting the whole industry in the first place, and (b) providing all the raw material.

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