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Royal African Company
Formerly
Company of Royal Adventurers Trading to Africa
Private
IndustryMercantile trading
Founded1660 (1660) in London, England
FoundersHouse of Stuart (British Royal Family)
Defunct1752 (1752)
Headquarters
Key people
James II, Charles II
ProductsHumans, gold, silver, ivory

The Royal African Company (RAC) was an English mercantile (trading) company set up in 1660 by the royal Stuart family and City of London merchants to trade along the west coast of Africa. It was led by the Duke of York, who was the brother of Charles II and later took the throne as James II. It shipped more African slaves to the Americas than any other institution in the history of the Atlantic slave trade.[1]

It was established after Charles II gained the English throne in the Restoration of 1660.[2] While its original purpose was to exploit the gold fields up the Gambia River, which were identified by Prince Rupert during the Interregnum, it soon developed and led a brutal and sustained slave trade.[1] It also extracted other commodities, mainly from the Gold Coast. After becoming insolvent in 1708, it survived in a state of much reduced activity until 1752 when its assets were transferred to the new African Company of Merchants, which lasted until 1821.

History

Background

In the 17th century the settlements on the west coast of Africa, though they had a not unimportant trade of their own in gold and ivory, existed chiefly for the supply of slaves to the West Indies and America. On the west coast the Europeans lived in fortified factories (trading posts) but had no sovereignty over the land or its natives. The coastal tribes acted as intermediaries between them and the slave-hunters of the interior. There was little incentive for white men to explore up the rivers, and few of them did so. The atmosphere might have been one of quiet routine had there not been acute rivalries between the European powers; especially the Dutch, who made use of native allies against their rivals. Before the Restoration the Dutch had been the main suppliers of slaves to the English West Indian plantations, but it was part of the policy of the English Navigation Acts to oust them from this lucrative trade.[3]

Foundation and early years

1686 English guinea showing the Royal African Company's symbol, an elephant and castle, under the bust of James II

Originally known as the Company of Royal Adventurers Trading into Africa, by its charter issued in 1660 it was granted a monopoly over English trade along the west coast of Africa, with the principal objective being the search for gold. In 1663 a new charter was obtained which also mentioned the trade in slaves.[4] This was the third English African Company, but it made a fresh start in the slave trade and there was only one factory of importance for it to take over from the East India Company, which had leased it as a calling-place on the sea-route round the Cape. This was Cormantin, a few miles east of the Dutch station of Caso Corso or Cape Coast Castle. In 1663, as a prelude to the Dutch war, Captain Holmes's expedition captured or destroyed all the Dutch settlements on the coast, and in 1664 Fort James was founded on an island about twenty miles up the Gambia river, as a new centre for English trade and power. This, however, was only the beginning of a series of captures and recaptures. In the same year de Ruyter won back all the Dutch forts except Cape Coast Castle and also took Cormantin. The treaty of Breda confirmed Cape Coast Castle to the English.[3][5]

Forts served as staging and trading stations, and the Company was responsible for seizing any English ships that attempted to operate in violation of its monopoly (known as interlopers). In the "prize court", the King received half of the proceeds and the Company half from the seizure of these interlopers.[6]

The Company fell heavily into debt in 1667, during the Second Anglo-Dutch War. For several years after that, the Company maintained some desultory trade, including licensing single-trip private traders, but its biggest effort was the creation in 1668 of the Gambia Adventurers.[7] This new company was separately subscribed and granted a ten-year licence for African trade north of the Bight of Benin with effect from 1 January 1669.[8] At the end of 1678, the licence to the Gambia Adventurers expired and its Gambian trade was merged into the Company.[9]

The African Company was ruined by its losses and surrendered its charter in 1672, to be followed by the still more ambitious Royal African Company of England. Its new charter was broader than the old one and included the right to set up forts and factories, maintain troops, and exercise martial law in West Africa, in pursuit of trade in gold, silver and African slaves.[10] Until 1687 the Company was very prosperous. It set up six forts on the Gold Coast, and another post at Ouidah, farther east on the Slave Coast, which became its principal centre for trade. Cape Coast Castle was strengthened and rose to be second in importance only to the Dutch factory at Elmina. Anglo-Dutch rivalry was, however, henceforward unimportant in the region and the Dutch were not strong enough to take aggressive measures here in the Third Anglo-Dutch War.[3]

Slave trade

In the 1680s the Company was transporting about 5,000 enslaved people a year to markets primarily in the Caribbean across the Atlantic. Many were branded with the letters "DY", for its Governor, the Duke of York, who succeeded his brother on the throne in 1685, becoming King James II. Other slaves were branded with the company's initials, RAC, on their chests.[11] Historian William Pettigrew has stated that this company “shipped more enslaved African women, men and children to the Americas than any other single institution during the entire period of the transatlantic slave trade,” and that investors in the company were fully aware of its activities and intended to profit from this exploitation.[12]

Between 1662 and 1731, the Company transported approximately 212,000 slaves, of whom 44,000 died en route. By that time, they also transported slaves to English colonies in North America.[13]

Later activities and insolvency

From 1694 to 1700, the Company was a major participant in the Komenda Wars in the port city Komenda in the Eguafo Kingdom in modern-day Ghana. The Company allied with a merchant prince named John Cabess and various neighbouring African kingdoms to depose the king of Eguafo and establish a permanent fort and factory in Komenda.[14] The English took two French forts and lost them again, after which the French destroyed Fort James. The place appears to have been soon regained and in the War of Spanish Succession to have been twice retaken by the French. In the treaty of Utrecht it remained English. The French wars caused considerable losses to the Company.[3]

In 1689, the Company acknowledged that it had lost its monopoly with the end of royal power in the Glorious Revolution, and it ceased issuing letters of marque.[15] Edward Colston transferred a large segment of his original shareholding to William III at the beginning of 1689, securing the new regime's favour.[16] To maintain the Company and its infrastructure and end its monopoly, parliament passed the Trade with Africa Act 1697 (9 Will. 3 c. 26).[17] Among other provisions, the Act opened the African trade to all English merchants who paid a ten per cent levy to the Company on all goods exported from Africa.[18]

The Company was unable to withstand competition on the terms imposed by the Act and in 1708 became insolvent, surviving until 1750 in a state of much reduced activity.[3]

The Company continued purchasing and transporting slaves until 1731, when it abandoned slaving in favour of ivory and gold dust.[19]

From 1668 to 1722, the Royal African Company provided gold to the English Mint. Coins made with such gold are designed with an elephant below the bust of the king and/or queen. This gold also gave the coinage its name, the guinea.[20]

Members and officials

At its incorporation, the constitution of the company specified a Governor, Sub Governor, Deputy Governor and 24 Assistants.[21] The Assistants (also called Members of the Court of Assistants) can be considered equivalent to a modern day board of directors.[22][23]

  • James Stuart, Duke of York, the future King James II – Governor of the Company from its creation and its largest shareholder[24]
  • Edward Colston (1636–1721), merchant, philanthropist, and Member of Parliament, was a shareholder in the Royal African Company from 1680 to 1692; from 1689 to 1690 he was its Deputy Governor, a senior executive position, the basis on which he is described as a slave trader.[25]
  • Charles Hayes (1678–1760), mathematician and chronologer, was sub-governor of the Royal African Company in 1752, when it was dissolved.[26]

List of notable investors and officials

Dissolution

Map of Royal African Company factories transferred to the African Company of Merchants. ()

The Royal African Company was dissolved by the African Company Act 1750, with its assets being transferred to the African Company of Merchants. These principally consisted of nine trading posts on the Gold Coast known as factories: Fort Anomabo, Fort James, Fort Sekondi, Fort Winneba, Fort Apollonia, Fort Tantumquery, Fort Metal Cross, Fort Komenda, and Cape Coast Castle, the last of which was the administrative centre.[37]

See also

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Notes

  1. ^ a b Jesus College Cambridge Legacy of Slavery Working Party (25 November 2019). Jesus College Legacy of Slavery Working Party Interim Report (July-October 2019) (Report). pp. 9–10..mw-parser-output cite.citation{font-style:inherit}.mw-parser-output .citation q{quotes:"\"""\"""'""'"}.mw-parser-output .id-lock-free a,.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-free a{background-image:url("//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/6/65/Lock-green.svg/9px-Lock-green.svg.png");background-image:linear-gradient(transparent,transparent),url("//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/65/Lock-green.svg");background-repeat:no-repeat;background-size:9px;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .id-lock-limited a,.mw-parser-output .id-lock-registration a,.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-limited a,.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-registration a{background-image:url("//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/d6/Lock-gray-alt-2.svg/9px-Lock-gray-alt-2.svg.png");background-image:linear-gradient(transparent,transparent),url("//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d6/Lock-gray-alt-2.svg");background-repeat:no-repeat;background-size:9px;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .id-lock-subscription a,.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-subscription a{background-image:url("//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/a/aa/Lock-red-alt-2.svg/9px-Lock-red-alt-2.svg.png");background-image:linear-gradient(transparent,transparent),url("//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/aa/Lock-red-alt-2.svg");background-repeat:no-repeat;background-size:9px;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration{color:#555}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription span,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration span{border-bottom:1px dotted;cursor:help}.mw-parser-output .cs1-ws-icon a{background-image:url("//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/4c/Wikisource-logo.svg/12px-Wikisource-logo.svg.png");background-image:linear-gradient(transparent,transparent),url("//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/4c/Wikisource-logo.svg");background-repeat:no-repeat;background-size:12px;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output code.cs1-code{color:inherit;background:inherit;border:inherit;padding:inherit}.mw-parser-output .cs1-hidden-error{display:none;font-size:100%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-visible-error{font-size:100%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-maint{display:none;color:#33aa33;margin-left:0.3em}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration,.mw-parser-output .cs1-format{font-size:95%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-left,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-left{padding-left:0.2em}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-right,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-right{padding-right:0.2em}.mw-parser-output .citation .mw-selflink{font-weight:inherit}
  2. ^ Carrington, Charles (1950). The British Overseas: Exploits of a Nation of Shopkeepers. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. p. 217. OCLC 1083162.
  3. ^ a b c d e Clark, Sir George (1956). The Later Stuarts, 1660–1714. The Oxford History of England: Oxford University Press. p. 331-333. ISBN 0-19-821702-1.
  4. ^ Davies, K. G. (Kenneth Gordon) (1999) [originally published in London by Longmans, Green & Co in 1957.]. The Royal African Company. London: Routledge/Thoemmes Press. p. 41. ISBN 041519072X. OCLC 42746420.
  5. ^ Zook, George Frederick (1919). The Company of Royal Adventurers Trading Into Africa. Lancaster, Pennsylvania: Press of the New Era Printing Company. p. 20. also published as Zook, George Frederick (1919). "The Company of Royal Adventurers Trading Into Africa". The Journal of Negro History. 4 (2): 134–231, page 155. doi:10.2307/2713534. JSTOR 2713534.
  6. ^ Davies, Kenneth Gordon (1999). The Royal African Company. Routledge/Thoemmes Press. p. 106. ISBN 978-0-415-19077-0., originally published in London by Longmans, Green in 1957.
  7. ^ Sometimes known as The Gambian Merchants' Company.
  8. ^ Zook 1919, p. 23 harvnb error: no target: CITEREFZook1919 (help)
  9. ^ Davies 1999, p. 215
  10. ^ Kitson, Frank. (1999) Prince Rupert: Admiral and General-at-Sea. London: Constable, p. 238.
  11. ^ Micklethwait, John, and Adrian Wooldridge. The Company: A Short History of a Revolutionary Idea. New York: Modern Library, 2003. ISBN 0-679-64249-8.
  12. ^ "Legacy of Slavery Working Party recommendations". Jesus College, Cambridge. Retrieved 5 July 2020.
  13. ^ "Voyages Database". www.slavevoyages.org. Retrieved 2018-11-19.
  14. ^ Law, Robin (2007). "The Komenda Wars, 1694–1700: a Revised Narrativ". History in Africa. 34: 133–168. doi:10.1353/hia.2007.0010.
  15. ^ Davies 1999, p. 123
  16. ^ Gardiner, Juliet (2000). The History Today Who's Who In British History. London: Collins & Brown Limited and Cima Books. p. 192. ISBN 1-85585-876-2.
  17. ^ "William III, 1697-8: An Act to settle the Trade to Africa. [Chapter XXVI. Rot. Parl. 9 Gul. III. p. 5. n. 2.] | British History Online". www.british-history.ac.uk.
  18. ^ P. E. H. Hair & Robin Law, 'The English in West Africa to 1700', in The Oxford History of the British Empire: Volume 1, The Origins of Empire: British Overseas Enterprise to the close of the Seventeenth Century, ed. Nicholas Canny (Oxford : Oxford University Press, 1998), p. 259
  19. ^ "Royal African Company of England". Archives Hub. Retrieved 6 July 2020.
  20. ^ Davies 1999, p. 181
  21. ^ Davies, Kenneth Gordon (1975). The Royal African Company. Octagon Books. ISBN 0-374-92074-5. OCLC 831375484.
  22. ^ Evans, Chris, 1961- (2010). Slave Wales : the Welsh and Atlantic slavery, 1660-1850. University of Wales Press. ISBN 978-0-7083-2303-8. OCLC 653083564.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  23. ^ Dresser, Madge (2007-10-01). "Set in Stone? Statues and Slavery in London". History Workshop Journal. 64 (1): 162–199. doi:10.1093/hwj/dbm032. ISSN 1363-3554.
  24. ^ Robbins, James S. (2018). Erasing America: Losing Our Future by Destroying Our Past. Regnery. ISBN 978-1621578161.
  25. ^ Statue of Edward Colston A Grade II Listed Building in Bristol, listing at britishlistedbuildings.co.uk, accessed 10 June 2020
  26. ^  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainAnderson, Robert Edward (1891). "Hayes, Charles". In Stephen, Leslie; Lee, Sidney (eds.). Dictionary of National Biography. 25. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
  27. ^ a b c d e Andrea Colli (22 December 2015). Dynamics of International Business: Comparative Perspectives of Firms, Markets and Entrepreneurship. Routledge. p. 46. ISBN 978-1-317-90674-2.
  28. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Pettigrew, William Andrew (2013). Freedom's Debt: The Royal African Company and the Politics of the Atlantic Slave Trade, 1672–1752. UNC Press Books. p. 25. ISBN 9781469611815.
  29. ^ a b Blackburn, Robin (1998). The Making of New World Slavery: From the Baroque to the Modern, 1492–1800. Verso. p. 255. ISBN 9781859841952.
  30. ^ "Estates within 10 miles of Bristol | Profits | From America to Bristol | Slavery Routes | Bristol and Transatlantic Slavery | PortCities Bristol". discoveringbristol.org.uk. Retrieved 2020-06-09.
  31. ^ Harris, Tim; Taylor, Stephen (2015-10-15). The Final Crisis of the Stuart Monarchy: The Revolutions of 1688–91 in Their British, Atlantic and European Contexts. Boydell & Brewer. ISBN 9781783270446.
  32. ^ Spurr, John (2011). "Anthony Ashley Cooper, First Earl of Shaftesbury 1621–1683". Ashgate. ISBN 978-0754661719.
  33. ^ Kaufman, Miranda (2007). English Heritage Properties 1600–1830 and Slavery Connections: A Report Undertaken to Mark the Bicentenary of the Abolition of the British Atlantic Slave Trade. English Heritage.
  34. ^ John Locke at National Portrait Gallery, London, accessed 9 June 2020
  35. ^ "Samuel Pepys - National Portrait Gallery". www.npg.org.uk.
  36. ^ David Henige, “Companies Are Always Ungrateful”: James Phipps of Cape Coast, A Victim of the African Trade, African Economic History (No.9, 1980), at pages 27-47
  37. ^ Adams, Robert; Adams, Charles (2005). The Narrative of Robert Adams, A Barbary Captive: A Critical Edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Further reading

External links

13 Annotations

TerryF  •  Link

"The company was more usually know as the Guinea or African Company; incorporated on 10 January 1663 as 'the Company of Royal Adventurers trading into Africa'...." so L&M, later known as the

Royal African Company

NOTE:..Incorporated the 20th of January 1662, in the 14th year of the reign of Charles II.

ARMS:..Or (gold), an elephant Azure (blue), on his back a quadrangular castle Argent (silver), masoned Proper (natural color); on the sinister tower a flagstaff and banner Gules (red), on the dexter corner of the banner a canton Argent (silver), charged with a cross Gules (red), on the dexter corner of the escutcheon a canton quarterly of France and England.

CREST:..On a ducal coronet Or (gold), an anchor erect Sable (black), cabled of the first (i.e., gold), between two dragons' wings expanded Argent (silver), each charged with a cross Gules (red).

SUPPORTERS:..Two African blacks Proper (natural color), vested round the waist with a skirt Argent (silver), pearls in their ears and round their necks banded round the temples Or (gold), thereon feathers erect of various colours each holding in his exterior hand an arrow Or (gold), barbed and feathered Argent (silver).

MOTTO:..REGIO FLORET PATROCINIO COMMERCIUM COMMERCIOQUE REGNUM.
http://freepages.family.rootsweb.com/~heraldry/bg…

TerryF  •  Link

The web site above is mistaken. The Royal African Company was reorganized in 1672, the 12th year in the riegn of Charles II.

Paul Chapin  •  Link

The Nth year of the reign of Charles II

I have no information about the Royal African Company. However, it is my understanding that those of royalist persuasion considered the reign of Charles II to have begun on the death of his father, January 30, 1649, ignoring the Cromwellian unpleasantness. On that reckoning, 1662 would indeed be the 14th year of CII's reign.

Pedro  •  Link

The Company of Royal Adventurers Trading to Africa.

(Originally posted under Internation trade)

In 1662 Parliament granted a charter to a newly formed company - The Company of Royal Adventurers Trading to Africa - which allowed and encouraged them to involve themselves in the slave trade. To the great dissatisfaction of merchants from other cities, however, the charter provided exclusive rights to the Company, which effectively meant the merchants of London.

http://www.headleypark.bristol.sch.uk/slavery/peo…

Michael Robinson  •  Link

"Company of Royal Adventurers into Africa,"

Founded 1660, and re-founded in 1663, by Prince Rupert and James, Duke of York, the company was granted monopoly trading rights in western Africa for 1,000 years. Apparently this company's activities were initially restricted to Gambia because of the need to negotiate with the pre-existing rights of the Guinea and East India Companies. The charter of 1663 for the first time explicitly mentioned the slave trade among the Company's interests, in 1662 it undertook to supply 3,000 slaves annually to the West Indian colonies. The Company's first decisive act was to dispatch a naval expedition to Africa under Sir Robert Holmes, which established a fort on James Island in the Gambia (1661) It was this that lead to it becoming embroiled in conflict with the Dutch.
In consequence of the charter of 1663 the Company extended its activities east of the Gold Coast, into an area that was becoming known as the "Slave Coast," where it established a trading station at Allada in 1663; slaving voyages were also undertaken to New and Old Calabar, further East. The suggestion that the slave trade had now become the Company's main pursuit is unwarranted. Gold remained the main object of trade; in 1665 the Company estimated its annual revenues from gold sales at L200,000,as against only L100,000 from the delivery of slaves to English Colonies, with a further L100,000 from other commodities (ivory, wax, hides, dye-woods and pepper.) African gold was coined in 'guineas,' stamped with an elephant as the Company's symbol, from 1663 onwards.

The company made an ambitious start, claiming to have established (or re-established) eighteen factories in Africa and dispatched over forty ships to trade there in the first years of its operation .....

[I leave the Holmes expedition to Pedro]

The losses sustained at de Ryuyter's hands (1664-5) ruined the company, which did little trade after1665. The Company licenced private traders from 1669, leased the Gambia trade to a separate company of Gambia adventurers in 1669, and was liquidated and replaced by a new Royal African Company in 1672. Initially the Gambia Adventurers maintained their rights, but in 1678 they were bought out by the Royal African Company. By comparison with the Royal Adventurers, the new company was dominated by merchants rather than courtiers, though James, Duke of Yoork (and later as King) remained titular Governor.

Short summary of:-
P.E. H. Hair and Robin Law
The English in Western Africa to 1700 (with select bibliography)
in Nicholas Canny ed. The Origins of Empire. British Overseas Enterprise to the Close of the Seventeenth Century [Oxford History of the British Empire Vol 1] Oxford: OUP, 1998 pp. 241 - 263, @ pp255-7.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

The Arms of the Company as described by Pepys in 1663
http://www.hubert-herald.nl/Ghana_bestanden/image…

Originally known as the Company of Royal Adventurers Trading to Africa, it was chartered by James II. Slaves were branded with the company's initials, RAC, on their chests.

Between 1672 and 1689 it transported around 90,000–100,000 slaves. Its profits made a major contribution to the increase in the financial power of those who controlled London.
http://www.hubert-herald.nl/Ghana.htm#Compies

John York  •  Link

From Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_African_Compa…
"The Royal African Company was a mercantile company set up by the Stuart family and London merchants to trade along the west coast of Africa. It was led by James, Duke of York, Charles II's brother. Its original purpose was to exploit the gold fields up the Gambia River identified by Prince Rupert during the Interregnum, and it was set up once Charles II gained the English throne in the Restoration of 1660. However, it was soon engaged in the slave trade as well as with other commodities.
With the help of the army and navy, it established forts on the West African coast that served as staging and trading stations and was responsible for seizing any English ships that attempted to operate in violation of the company's monopoly. In the prize court, the King received half of the proceeds and the company half.
The company fell heavily into debt in 1667, during the war with the Netherlands, the very war it had itself started when its Admiral Robert Holmes had attacked the Dutch African trade posts in 1664, as it had lost most of its forts on the African coast except for Cape Corse. For several years after that, the company maintained some desultory trade, including licensing single-trip private traders."
So by the end of the diary the company was doing little, although it was involved in the promotion of The Gambia Company which began to trade on 1 January 1669.
"In 1672, the original Company re-emerged, re-structured and with a new charter from the king, as the new Royal African Company. Its new charter was broader than the old one and included the right to set up forts and factories, maintain troops and exercise martial law in West Africa, in pursuit of trade in gold, silver and slaves."
Terry Foreman's posting of 13 January 2015 relates to this re-structured company not to the original Pepys era Company.

Bill  •  Link

The Royal African or Guinea Company of Merchants was founded 14 Car. II. (1662). The limits of jurisdiction are defined in the charter as from Salee in South Barbary to the Cape of Good Hope. A new charter was granted in 1672, but in 1697 free trade to Africa was granted by parliament, and the company fell into decay. It was revived by a new act in the reign of Queen Anne (1708-9). An act for extending and improving the trade in Africa was passed 23 Geo. II. (1754); but in 1821 the charter of incorporation of the society was recalled by parliament (1 and 2 Geo. IV., c. 28). In Stryp's "Stow" (book v.) there is an account of the company, where the arms are described. The African House was in Leadenhall Street.
---Wheatley, 1893.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"A Fistful of Shells: West Africa from the Rise of the Slave Trade to the Age of Revolution" by Toby Green reveals the success Africans had in the first 400 years of their encounter with Europeans.

An early effect of European trade on West African politics was that organized states like Songhai broke up, while smaller ones were strengthened by the economic exchanges.

Initially, Europeans wanted gold, but with the start of New World plantations, demand for slaves rose, and it was the small less organized kingdoms that became Europe’s source.

Some African states resisted for generations. Today's Ghana, Benin, and Congo refused to sell slaves (but sometimes purchased them), and defeated efforts to gain control of their resources.

Kongo was an advanced state with elected kings when the Portuguese arrival in the 1480s. They embraced Christianity and kept ambassadors at the Vatican from the 1530s - 1620s, but slavery broke its relationship with Portugal.

Faced with Kongo’s resistance, in 1575 Portugal founded Luanda, from which it waged a destabilization campaign. Kongo eventually asked Holland to be their ally (as they were not yet engaged in slaving and were an enemy of the united kingdom of Spain and Portugal).

In 1623 Kongo’s King Pedro II wrote to Holland requesting “four or five warships as well as five or six hundred soldiers” and promised to pay for “the ships and the salaries of the soldiers in gold, silver, and ivory.”

Holland wanted to end this resource, which supplied more than half the slaves sent to Brazil and the Indies, hoping Brazil (Portugal’s leading source of wealth) would become nonviable.

Africa thus played a major role in the struggle for control over the South Atlantic during the 30 Years’ War, with Dutch warships helping Kongo defeat the Portuguese in 1624 and 1641.

In 1648, Portugal shipped blacks from Brazil across the Atlantic to restore its hold on Angola. This is African history as world history.

Portugal defeated Kongo in 1665, and then exploited a vulnerability it shared with the Ashanti Empire and Benin: control over its money supply.

In Kongo, a locally-made cloth was the traditional means of exchange, along with the nzimbu seashell. The Dutch flooded the region with textiles and shells, both local and imported.

These economic catastrophes combined with the fall in the value of exported gold, following New World discoveries of gold and silver. In return, Africans had received European goods, all of which decline in value over time, and was bled of its people, who were used to enrich Europe.

For the whole review, and others books on the subject: https://www.nybooks.com/articles/2019/06/27/medie…

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Portuguese missionaries arrived in the Congo in the 15th century, and were successful in finding converts. 150 years later Congolese slaves were taken to the New World.

They knew the liturgical calendar. They knew the basics of Christianity. They made trouble because they knew what the slave owners believed.

https://daily.jstor.org/did-kongolese-catholicism…

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Today's Gresham College in London has a continuing series of lectures on a wide assortment of subjects. They are in the midst of a series on slavery ... and for those of us not in London, they are available, free, in podcasts. So go for it ... here's the link for the slavery set:

"Freedom has been central to the identity of the City of London for centuries. But from the 17th to the 19th centuries, the African Slave Trade and Plantation Slavery in the Americas were key to London’s banking, insurance, shipping, manufacturing, commodity trades with Europe, gold and silver supply in London, and later merchant banks like Barings, Schroeder and Kleinwort. The City also benefited from the end of Slavery, as compensated emancipation liberated a flood of liquid capital and provided a £500,000 per annum income stream to its funders."

https://www.gresham.ac.uk/lectures-and-events/sla…

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References

Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.

1663

1664

1665

1667

1668