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The Princeton Companion to Atlantic History

The Princeton Companion to Atlantic History

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The Princeton Companion to Atlantic History

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The first encyclopedic reference to Atlantic history

Between the fifteenth and nineteenth centuries, the connections among Africa, the Americas, and Europe transformed world history—through maritime exploration, commercial engagements, human migrations and settlements, political realignments and upheavals, cultural exchanges, and more. This book, the first encyclopedic reference work on Atlantic history, takes an integrated, multicontinental approach that emphasizes the dynamics of change and the perspectives and motivations of the peoples who made it happen. The entries—all specially commissioned for this volume from an international team of leading scholars—synthesize the latest scholarship on central themes, including economics, migration, politics, war, technologies and science, the physical environment, and culture.

Part one features five major essays that trace the changes distinctive to each chronological phase of Atlantic history. Part two includes more than 125 entries on key topics, from the seemingly familiar viewed in unfamiliar and provocative ways (the Seven Years' War, trading companies) to less conventional subjects (family networks, canon law, utopias).

This is an indispensable resource for students, researchers, and scholars in a range of fields, from early American, African, Latin American, and European history to the histories of economics, religion, and science.

  • The first encyclopedic reference on Atlantic history
  • Features five major essays and more than 125 alphabetical entries
  • Provides essential context on major areas of change:
  • Economies (for example, the slave trade, marine resources, commodities, specie, trading companies)
  • Populations (emigrations, Native American removals, blended communities)
  • Politics and law (the law of nations, royal liberties, paramount chiefdoms, independence struggles in Haiti, the Hispanic Americas, the United States, and France)
  • Military actions (the African and Napoleonic wars, the Seven Years' War, wars of conquest)
  • Technologies and science (cartography, nautical science, geography, healing practices)
  • The physical environment (climate and weather, forest resources, agricultural production, food and diets, disease)
  • Cultures and communities (captivity narratives, religions and religious practices)
  • Includes original contributions from Sven Beckert, Holly Brewer, Peter A. Coclanis, Seymour Drescher, Eliga H. Gould, David S. Jones, Wim Klooster, Mark Peterson, Steven Pincus, Richard Price and Sophia Rosenfeld, and many more
  • Contains illustrations, maps, and bibliographies
Dirilis:
Jan 18, 2015
ISBN:
9781400852215
Format:
Buku

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The Princeton Companion to Atlantic History - Princeton University Press

The Princeton Companion to Atlantic History

The Princeton Companion to Atlantic History

Editor

Joseph C. Miller

University of Virginia

Associate Editors

Vincent Brown

Harvard University

Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra

University of Texas at Austin

Laurent Dubois

Duke University

Karen Ordahl Kupperman

New York University

PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS

PRINCETON AND OXFORD

Copyright © 2015 by Princeton University Press

Published by Princeton University Press, 41 William Street, Princeton, New Jersey 08540

In the United Kingdom: Princeton University Press, 6 Oxford Street, Woodstock, Oxfordshire OX20 1TW

press.princeton.edu

Jacket Art: Detail from Burning of the Town of Cap-Français, Saint-Domingue (Haiti), 1795 (color engraving), French School (18th century). Private Collection/Archives Charmet/The Bridgeman Art Library.

The research for the entry Livestock by Eva Botella-Ordinas was made possible thanks to the following: Epistemología Histórica: Historia de las emociones en los siglos XIX y XX’ MICIN, FFI2010–20876 (subprograma FISO), and: Repensando la identidad: la Monarquía de España entre 1665 y 1746, MICIN REF. HAR2011–27562.

Parts of the entries Creolization and Maroons by Richard Price have been previously published in other web and print sources.

All Rights Reserved

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

The Princeton companion to Atlantic history / editor, Joseph C. Miller, University of Virginia ; associate editors, Vincent Brown, Harvard University, Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra, University of Texas at Austin, Laurent Dubois, Duke University, Karen Ordahl Kupperman, New York University.

       pages cm

Includes bibliographical references and index.

ISBN 978-0-691-14853-3 (hardcover : alk. paper)

1. Atlantic Ocean Region—History—Encyclopedias.  I. Miller, Joseph Calder, editor.

D210.P936 2014

909′.09821—dc23 2014010013

British Library Cataloging-in-Publication Data is available

This book has been composed in Adobe Garamond Pro and Myriad Pro

Editorial and Project Management Services by Valerie Tomaselli/MTM Publishing

Printed on acid-free paper. ∞

Printed in the United States of America

10  9  8  7  6  5  4  3  2  1

Contents

Preface

At the beginning of the fifteenth century, the peoples inhabiting Africa, the Americas, and Europe were largely separated by the watery medium of the seas, but by the turn of the nineteenth century, their connections around the Atlantic had transformed history—not just the history of the regions bordering it, but of the world as well. The study of these interactions—of maritime exploration, of commercial engagement, of human migration and settlement, of plants and pathogens, of cultural exchange and production, of political realignment and upheaval—is the Atlantic history that this volume considers.

The Princeton Companion to Atlantic History is the first encyclopedic reference work to examine this history. The Companion takes into account the multiple perspectives that the Atlantic World embodied, with an accent on its dynamics of change. Following a prologue that sets the stage for these engagements around the Atlantic World, introductory essays in part one outline the dynamics distinctive to each of four century-long chronological periods, beginning with the early to mid-fifteenth century and continuing into the mid-nineteenth century, each viewed through the lenses of the regional components contributing to the world of the Atlantic and the forces of exchange and conflict among them that shaped these periods. These chronological essays are followed by a set of some 120 entries in part two, in A-to-Z format, examining the specific regions, strategies, and groups central to understanding the complexities of these encounters in the Atlantic World. Written by an international team of scholars, the essays in part two fill in the contours and add human actors, details of their strategies, and analytical implications to the synthetic essays in part one. These shorter entries present seemingly familiar topics—the Seven Years’ War or trading companies, for instance—in unfamiliar and provocative ways, as well as unfamiliar topics—such as family networks or imperial planning—in accessible terms. The result, we hope, is a work that mediates among the specific academic cultures of the varied disciplinary and regional fields involved in studying the Atlantic World in an effort to integrate Atlantic history as a coherent and distinctive field of knowledge and understanding.

The Companion thus offers undergraduate and graduate students, as well as practicing scholars, the first comprehensive reference guide to this growing field, in an epistemologically challenging historical examination of concepts critical to it. It aims to help readers confront the distinctiveness of the field in ways not yet offered in the growing literature on Atlantic history, still often Eurocentric and rooted in the conceptual underpinnings of our modern era rather than in the perspectives and motivations of the varied peoples of the past who made it happen.

We now understand the world in terms of the modern social sciences—the efforts to aggregate behaviors in terms of statistical descriptions and to analyze human life in terms of societies, economies, and the formally constituted politics of nation-states. Today politicians must create abstract ideologies, particularly of nationhood, to mobilize and motivate masses of strangers to coordinated action. But none of these modern premises existed at the start of the distinctively open history of the Atlantic in the later fifteenth century. The familiar concepts of the modern social sciences thus offer little to further our understanding of the motivations and the strategies that people brought to the Atlantic World. Europeans no less than Native Americans and Africans thought and acted in terms of their relationships to one another; they lived in small communities of familiarity and trust, of kinship and faith thought of as enduring and stable, or in similarly mutually responsible relationships of patronage and loyalty.

Thus, the historians of the Atlantic World who have written for this volume explore the details of these communities, the interactions among the peoples in them, and the strategies individuals developed as they encountered the unexpected realities of the New World. So it is that Atlantic history focuses not on overarching abstractions but on human experiences and the deep historical processes created from them. While the Companion certainly considers abstract concepts—gender, race, sovereignty, and even modernity itself—it concentrates on the complex detail and texture of all the component parts of the Atlantic Era.

The field of Atlantic history is inherently challenging, owing to the several, to-datelargely isolated regional perspectives that it brings together. The literatures on all of them have become sufficiently dense and complex to contribute substantively to the integrated treatment found in the Companion, and in turn to benefit from the contextualization offered in this volume. Research in this area—begun tentatively in the 1970s, though with antecedents dating back to the 1950s, cohering in an active field since the 1990s—has also grown to a critical mass. Journals focusing on more specialized subjects are publishing special issues considering the implications of Atlantic history for their readers. The existing literature includes mostly collections of essays considering a range of questions still from the perspective of the regional components, and many others relate to the definitions, boundaries, and emergent historiography of the field. Monographs in a range of fields have increasingly viewed their targeted topics through Atlantic lenses. The first large historical surveys have recently appeared, considering the early-modern period through the interconnections inherent in the Atlantic World.

The purpose of The Princeton Companion to Atlantic History is to present what the field has achieved after 30 years of work in an intellectually coherent historical structure. It aims to create a suitably compound presentation of an inherently composite subject. By bringing together scholars engaged in the many components of the field, we hope the Companion will help carry Atlantic history beyond its formative stages toward intellectual maturity.

Part One

As the essays in part one trace the elongated outlines of Atlantic history, they explore the historical strategies and processes that defined the Atlantic Era—economic consolidation, human migration, military expansion, technological progress, environmental change, and cultural diffusion. In the sixteenth century, improving European maritime technology—such as navigation and shipbuilding—extended Europeans’ reach across the open ocean and helped to yield inflows of gold and silver from Africa and the Americas to Europe, satisfying the shortages of the specie needed to feed growing commercialization. Domestic slaving in the Mediterranean, as mentioned in the essay on the sixteenth century, was extended into the Atlantic and redefined to treat human beings as legal collateral for commercial production of commodities in the Atlantic, notably sugar. On all continents unsustainably costly militarization created complementing needs for the new resources that the opening of the Atlantic provided.

Across the seventeenth century, continued advances in maritime and geographical knowledge—maritime technology and mapmaking, for instance—made crossing the ocean more viable and settlement in the New World more feasible, leading to increasing economic activity on all shores of the Atlantic and to militarization of the seas. Commodities established new connections, seeded with the imbalances of power that would come to characterize many Atlantic World engagements that grew out of them, some extreme. The new commodities, as noted in the essay on the seventeenth century, transformed European lifestyles: furs, sugar, tobacco—all became luxury goods that fed a growing consumerism in the British Isles and on the continent. The sugar trade, initially developed in Brazil but spreading northward through the Caribbean, spurred the transatlantic slave trade to new heights, and western African polities consolidated military power as they intensified their involvement in fueling the trade in captives enslaved to labor in the Americas. Religious conflict in Reformation Europe drove voluntary migration as well, bringing Europeans across the Atlantic as the century proceeded.

In the eighteenth century the slave trade strongly shaped the contours of an increasingly integrated Atlantic World—demographically, culturally, economically. The forced movement of Africans across the ocean reached new heights and was overwhelmingly responsible for the demographic composition of the commodity-producing regions of the New World. As noted in the essay on the eighteenth century, enslaved peoples from Africa composed more than three-quarters of all migrants to the Americas between 1500 and 1820. This trade in humans also undergirded the economic networks that consolidated the Atlantic Basin in the eighteenth century. Capitalism would flourish, along with the globalized warfare that supported it, and solidify its hold on economic life. At the same time, political upheaval would intensify, laying out the framework for the emergence of the modern nation-state.

While the specific chronological dimensions of the Atlantic World are hard to delineate—a challenge considered directly in the essay on the nineteenth century—the processes that had come to define the Atlantic Era yielded outcomes that were being consolidated by the mid-1800s. The political upheavals begun in the previous century yielded national independence throughout the Americas. The abolition of the slave trade was intimately connected to these political transformations and ultimately to the burgeoning investment by European powers, primarily Britain, in economic expansion and military imperialism in Africa and Asia. At the same time as the British were looking southward and eastward, the United States was looking west, gaining in territory, in technological and military capacity, and economic strength, representing a consolidation of at least hemispheric geostrategic influence on the west side of the Atlantic. This drive for settlement and sovereign expansion across the Americas, north and south, became the leading edge of the transition to the nation-state, which would engender a profound transfer of allegiance from family, community, and individual patron-client relationships to the more abstract associations of modern political identities. These abstractions of identity and political relations—revolving around inclusion and exclusion—echo well into the modern era. As the essay on the nineteenth century suggests, this longer-term influence of Atlantic outcomes—in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries—makes a case for an extended chronological definition of the modern world created in the Atlantic: that we are still living in it, though on increasingly global scales.

Part Two

The components woven through the panoramic views in the essays of part one are disentangled in the granular coverage of the shorter part two entries, which examine specific participants and strategies central to the dynamics of the Atlantic World as a whole. These shorter entries gloss both concepts and themes relevant to the chronological periods and others elucidating overarching processes and trends spanning the centuries under consideration.

In selecting these topics, we considered the full range of concepts, events, and trends embodying the major areas of development in the Atlantic World, including economic, political, and military contexts; movements of people; technologies and science; environmental contexts; and cultures and communities. However, our intention in part two was not to be comprehensive in the sense of a gazetteer; rather, we aimed to design entries around concepts that are analytically significant for the historical dynamics of the Atlantic World. As seen from the examples below, some of the topics—such as commercialization and language—span the long-term periods considered in the chronological essays of part one, while others are more targeted—covering, for instance, specific wars, political upheavals, commodities, or contributors to events.

Economic Contexts. Systems of labor, production, trade, and financing were critical mechanisms of change in the Atlantic World. These processes are explored in entries on the economies and economic strategies of the regions bordering the Atlantic, as well as in entries on leading commodities, practices, and areas of production (such as in Furs and Skins, Livestock, and Marine Resources) and methods of trade (such as in Trading Companies, Trading Diasporas, and Specie). Among labor systems, several entries explore the Atlantic trade in enslaved Africans and its suppression, as well as slavery and its abolition.

Movements of People. The A-to-Z entries also highlight the more voluntary movements of Europeans across the Atlantic as one of the primary components of Atlantic encounters, including a general entry on Emigrants and a specific note on Family Networks. The strategies used to force emigration—beyond the slave trade—are also featured in such entries as those on Impressment, Kidnapping, and Panyarring, and Native American Removals. Others, such as Family and Family Production and Blended Communities, explore the economic, cultural, and demographic characteristics of the people who moved throughout the Atlantic regions.

Political and Legal Contexts. Political transformations and upheavals were critical markers of the changes in the Atlantic World. These processes are illuminated in a range of ways. Several entries dissect the specific legal strategies involved in European engagements across the Atlantic, including Canon Law and the Law of Nations, for instance. The intimate sources of political and economic power in the Atlantic World are explored in such entries as Royal Liberties and Patron-Client Networks. The unique political structures of Native American and African polities are examined in such entries as African Political Systems and Paramount Chiefdoms. Consideration of the independence struggles that ended the European legal and military efforts in the Americas can be found in entries on Haiti, the Hispanic Americas, the United States, and France.

Military Contexts. The military context of the struggle for U.S. independence is considered in a separate entry on the War for U.S. Independence. Other military encounters are also examined in such essays as the Seven Years’ War, African Wars (Slaving and Others), Napoleonic Wars, and in an umbrella entry on the early Wars of Conquest. The strong general trend toward militarization of the Atlantic space is also covered; see for instance Military Mobilization and Navies and Naval Arming.

Technologies and Science. Technologies enabled more than military engagements. This aspect of the practical knowledge enabling Atlantic history is covered in such entries as Cartography and Navigation and Nautical Sciences. Scientific knowledge as a product of encountering the Atlantic World is also examined in such essays as Natural History and Geography. Knowledge and techniques of healing are also explored in several entries covering the distinct practices of the Atlantic communities—Africans, African Americans, Europeans, and Native Americans.

Environmental Contexts. Related to these entries are those that consider the physical features of the Atlantic World with which the people who entered the Atlantic worked, both as obstacles and as opportunities. A general entry on Environments is included, as are more specific examinations of Climate and Weather, Forest Resources, and River Systems. An entry on Agricultural Production reflects the varying regional potentials. The Columbian Exchange of Old World and New World plants, animals, and pathogens is examined in a general entry and in such specific aspects as Diseases and Foods and Diets.

Cultures and Communities. Cultural aspects of Atlantic encounters are found in several sets of essays. Literary and visual representations, as well as ideological constructions, of the various peoples of the Atlantic can be found in such entries as Visual Representations, Captivity Narratives, and Travel Narratives and Compilations. Essays on religions and religious practices are included, as well as entries on how Christianity in various Atlantic contexts was hybridized, in such entries as Adaptations of Christianity in Africa and Native American Appropriations of Christianity. More specific religious strategies are covered as well; see for instance, Missionary Orders and Communities and the Prophetic Movements (in Native American contexts).

Conceptual Approaches. While we did not focus extensively on conceptual issues and historiography, it seemed useful to frame the more specific entries with coverage of concepts and methodological approaches important in the scholarly backdrop of Atlantic history. These entries on ways of conceptualizing the field include, among others, Center-Periphery Analysis and Underdevelopment. Other essays introduce key abstract concepts now considered standard categories of analysis in the modern social sciences, such as Class, Empire, Ethnicity, and Race, while exploring—and sometimes questioning—their relevance to the historical strategies of an Atlantic World that its creators often understood in other terms of their own, earlier times.

The beginning of the volume includes a topical list of A-to-Z entries to help readers identify articles that touch on specific areas of interest. They may find several articles, each highlighting a different aspect of the topic they seek, as the resources, participants, and strategies delineated in part two are not discrete or mutually exclusive; in the complex, multiple processes of Atlantic history they overlap and converge. From one viewpoint, Forest Resources, for instance, in an article of that title, may be seen as an economic concept; from another it is a feature of the physical environment. An entry on Furs and Skins covers another aspect of the same territory, but in a more targeted way, as these specific commodities become the primary engine of exchange and encounter between Native North Americans and European traders in the early Atlantic period. The entry on Capitalism also explores the role furs and skins play in the growing Atlantic system of capital accumulation and consumer-driven production. The topical list of entries is followed by a regional listing, which also enables readers to locate material that targets their specific needs and interests.

The various disciplines and viewpoints brought together in the Companion may result in variations among some historical details, such as dates of events. For instance, differing years are given for the War of the Spanish Succession, as individual scholars bring the perspectives of their geographic specialties to the analysis of this international and transoceanic conflict: Does the end of the war come with the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, or does it extend further as some parties to the conflict continued fighting or did not ratify the peace immediately? Since we did not apply dogmatic answers to these questions in the pursuit of a false consistency, the vigilant reader will see such seeming incongruities.

In fact, the Companion embraces this diversity. The multiplicity of this history is represented in the plural format of part two, with its compound perspectives and many points of entry and in the eclectic range of imaginative scholars who have contributed them. The historical fabric thus produced has been woven from infinite threads, of every hue visible to the human eye, that readers of this volume may then weave together for themselves as a whole.

Alphabetical List of Entries

Abolition of Atlantic Slave Trade

Agricultural Production

Blended Communities

Brokers

Capitalism

Captivity, Native American

Cartography

Center-Periphery Analysis

Christianity

Christianity, Adaptations in Africa of

Christianity, African American

Christianity, Native American Appropriations of

Class

Climate and Weather

Colonies and Colonization

Columbian Exchange

Commercialization

Commodities

Contraband

Cornucopias

Creolization

Death and Burial

Democratic Revolutions, Age of

Diasporas

Diseases

Economic Cycles

Economic Strategies, African

Economic Strategies, European

Economic Strategies, Native North American

Economies, African

Economies, American: Brazil

Economies, American: Caribbean

Economies, American: North America

Economies, American: Spanish Territories

Economies, European

Emancipations

Emigrants

Empires

Environments

Ethnicity

Family and Family Networks

Family Production and Commercial Labor

Foods and Diets

Forest Resources

Freed People

Frontiers

Furs and Skins

Gender

Geography

Government, Representative

Healing, African

Healing, African American

Healing, European

Healing, Native American

Imperial Planning

Impressment, Kidnapping, and Panyarring

Indentured Contracts

Independence: Haiti

Independence: Hispanic Americas

Independence: United States

Islam in Africa

Jewish Communities

Judaism

Languages

Law, Canon

Law, Commercial

Law, Constitutional

Law, Military

Law, Monarchical

Law, Roman, in the Americas

Law of Nations

Liberties, Royal

Literary and Visual Expressions, African American

Literary Genres: Captivity Narratives

Literary Genres: Travel Narratives and Compilations

Livestock

Mami Wata

Manumission

Marine Resources

Maritime Populations

Maroons

Military Mobilization

Military Technologies

Missionary Orders and Communities

Modernity

Monarchies and Agents

Muslims, African, in the Americas

Nation

Native American Removals

Natural History

Navies and Naval Arming

Navigation and Nautical Sciences

Paramount Chiefdoms

Patron-Client Networks

Penal Transportation

Political Systems, African

Political Systems, Collective Consensual

Prophetic Movements

Race

Raiders

Religions, African

Religions, African, Historiography of

Religions, African, in the Americas

Revolts, Slave

Revolutions, National: France

River Systems

Seven Years’ War

Slavery, U.S.

Slave Trade, Suppression of Atlantic

Slaving, in Africa

Slaving, European, from Africa

Slaving, European, of Native Americans

Slaving, Muslim, of Christians

Sovereignty

Specie

Technologies, African

Trading Companies

Trading Diasporas

Underdevelopment

Utopias

Visual Representations

Wars, African: Slaving and Other

Wars, Napoleonic

Wars of Conquest

Wars of Independence, American

Weapons of the Weak

World/Global History

World-Systems Theory

Topical List of Entries

Commodities
Conceptual Approaches
Cultures and Communities
Economic Strategies
Environmental Contexts
Labor Recruitment
Legal Strategies
Military Strategies and War
Movements of People
Political Strategies
Regional Focus
Religions
Slaving
Technologies and Science

Commodities

Commodities

Forest Resources

Furs and Skins

Livestock

Marine Resources

Conceptual Approaches

Center-Periphery Analysis

Class

Colonies and Colonization

Cornucopias

Creolization

Democratic Revolutions, Age of

Economic Cycles

Frontiers

Gender

Literary and Visual Expressions, African American

Literary Genres: Captivity Narratives

Literary Genres: Travel Narratives and Compilations

Mami Wata

Modernity

Nation

Race

Religions, African, Historiography of

Underdevelopment

Utopias

Visual Representations

World/Global History

World-Systems Theory

Cultures and Communities

See also Religions

Blended Communities

Creolization

Death and Burial

Diasporas

Family and Family Networks

Emigrants

Ethnicity

Foods and Diets

Freed People

Healing, African

Healing, African American

Healing, European

Healing, Native American

Jewish Communities

Languages

Literary and Visual Expressions, African American

Literary Genres: Captivity Narratives

Literary Genres: Travel Narratives and Compilations

Mami Wata

Maritime Populations

Maroons

Missionary Orders and Communities

Muslims, African, in the Americas

Trading Diasporas

Utopias

Economic Strategies

See also Commodities; Labor Recruitment

Agricultural Production

Brokers

Capitalism

Commercialization

Commodities

Contraband

Economic Cycles

Economic Strategies, African

Economic Strategies, European

Economic Strategies, Native North American

Economies, African

Economies, American: Brazil

Economies, American: Caribbean

Economies, American: North America

Economies, American: Spanish Territories

Economies, European

Empires

Family Production and Commercial Labor

Raiders

Specie

Trading Companies

Trading Diasporas

Environmental Contexts

Cartography

Climate and Weather

Columbian Exchange

Diseases

Environments

Foods and Diets

Forest Resources

Furs and Skins

Geography

Livestock

Marine Resources

River Systems

Labor Recruitment

Impressment, Kidnapping, and Panyarring

Indentured Contracts

Penal Transportation

Slavery, U.S.

Slaving, in Africa

Slaving, European, from Africa

Slaving, European, of Native Americans

Slaving, Muslim, of Christians

Legal Strategies

Law, Canon

Law, Commercial

Law, Constitutional

Law, Military

Law, Monarchical

Law, Roman, in the Americas

Law of Nations

Liberties, Royal

Manumission

Monarchies and Agents

Sovereignty

Trading Companies

Military Strategies and War

Impressment, Kidnapping, and Panyarring

Military Mobilization

Military Technologies

Navies and Naval Arming

Seven Years’ War

Slave Trade, Suppression of Atlantic

Wars, African: Slaving and Other

Wars, Napoleonic

Wars of Conquest

Wars of Independence, American

Movements of People

Blended Communities

Creolization

Diasporas

Emigrants

Family and Family Networks

Freed People

Impressment, Kidnapping, and Panyarring

Indentured Contracts

Maroons

Native American Removals

Penal Transportation

Slaving, in Africa

Slaving, European, from Africa

Slaving, European, of Native Americans

Slaving, Muslim, of Christians

Trading Diasporas

Political Strategies

Captivity, Native American

Colonies and Colonization

Democratic Revolutions, Age of

Emancipations

Empires

Ethnicity

Freed People

Government, Representative

Imperial Planning

Independence: Haiti

Independence: Hispanic Americas

Independence: United States

Monarchies and Agents

Nation

Native American Removals

Paramount Chiefdoms

Patron-Client Networks

Penal Transportation

Political Systems, African

Political Systems, Collective Consensual

Prophetic Movements

Revolts, Slave

Revolutions, National: France

Slave Trade, Suppression of Atlantic

Weapons of the Weak

Regional Focus

The following entries focus explicitly on regions and regional actors; any not listed here are pan-Atlantic in orientation.

Africa

Christianity, Adaptations in Africa of

Economic Strategies, African

Economies, African

Healing, African

Islam in Africa

Political Systems, African

Political Systems, Collective Consensual

Religions, African

Religions, African, Historiography of

Slaving, European, from Africa

Slaving, in Africa

Slaving, Muslim, of Christians

Technologies, African

Wars, African: Slaving and Other

Americas, African

Christianity, African American

Emancipations

Freed People

Healing, African American

Independence: Haiti

Literary and Visual Expressions, African American

Maroons

Muslims, African, in the Americas

Religions, African, in America

Revolts, Slave

Americas, European

Economies, American: Brazil

Economies, American: Caribbean

Economies, American: North America

Economies, American: Spanish Territories

Frontiers

Independence: United States

Missionary Orders and Communities

Seven Years’ War

Slavery, U.S.

Slaving, European, of Native Americans

Wars of Conquest

Wars of Independence, American

Americas, Native

Captivity, Native American

Christianity, Native American Appropriations of

Economic Strategies, Native North American

Healing, Native American

Native American Removals

Paramount Chiefdoms

Political Systems, Collective Consensual

Prophetic Movements

Slaving, European, of Native Americans

Wars of Conquest

Europe

Christianity

Economic Strategies, European

Economies, European

Healing, European

Judaism

Revolutions, National: France

Seven Years’ War

Slaving, European, from Africa

Wars, Napoleonic

Religions

Christianity

Christianity, Adaptations in Africa of

Christianity, African American

Christianity, Native American Appropriations of

Islam in Africa

Jewish Communities

Judaism

Missionary Orders and Communities

Muslims, African, in the Americas

Prophetic Movements

Religions, African

Religions, African, in America

Religions, African, Historiography of

Slaving

Abolition of Atlantic Slave Trade

Captivity, Native American

Emancipations

Freed People

Manumission

Maroons

Revolts, Slave

Slavery, U.S.

Slave Trade, Suppression of Atlantic

Slaving, in Africa

Slaving, European, from Africa

Slaving, European, of Native Americans

Slaving, Muslim, of Christians

Wars, African: Slaving and Other

Technologies and Science

Cartography

Geography

Healing, African

Healing, African American

Healing, European

Healing, Native American

Military Technologies

Natural History

Navies and Naval Arming

Navigation and Nautical Sciences

Technologies, African

Contributors

Ida Altman

Professor, History Department, University of Florida

Cornucopias

Jennifer L. Anderson

Associate Professor, Department of History, State University of New York, Stony Brook

Forest Resources

Kenneth J. Andrien

Edmund J. and Louise Kahn Chair in History, Southern Methodist University

Economies, American: Spanish Territories

Ralph A. Austen

Professor Emeritus, Department of History, University of Chicago

Economies, Africa

Kenneth J. Banks

Assistant Professor, History Department, Wofford College

Contraband; Monarchies and Agents

Juliana Barr

Associate Professor of History, University of Florida

Captivity, Native American

Robert M. Baum

Associate Professor, Department of Religion, Dartmouth College

Religions, African

Sven Beckert

Laird Bell Professor of American History, Harvard University

Commodities

Aviva Ben-Ur

Associate Professor, Department of Judaic and Near Eastern Studies, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Jewish Communities

Celeste-Marie Bernier

Professor of African American Studies, Faculty of Arts, University of Nottingham

Literary and Visual Expressions, African American

Kristen Block

Associate Professor, Department of History, Florida Atlantic University

Patron-Client Networks

W. Jeffrey Bolster

Associate Professor, Department of History, University of New Hampshire

Marine Resources

Eva Botella-Ordinas

Associate Professor of the Department of Early Modern History, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid

Livestock

John P. Bowes

Associate Professor, Department of History, Eastern Kentucky University

Native American Removals

Kathleen J. Bragdon

Professor, Department of Anthropology, College of William & Mary

Languages

Holly Brewer

Burke Chair of American History and Associate Professor, Department of History, University of Maryland

Law, Constitutional

Vincent Brown

Charles Warren Professor of American History and Professor of African and African American Studies, History Department, Harvard University

The Eighteenth Century; Death and Burial

Trevor Burnard

Professor and Head of School, School of Historical and Philosophical Studies, University of Melbourne

Colonies and Colonization

Amy Turner Bushnell

Adjunct Associate Professor, Department of History, Brown University

Center-Periphery Analysis

Judith A. Carney

Professor, Department of Geography, Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, University of California, Los Angeles

Columbian Exchange

Vincent Carretta

Professor, Department of English, University of Maryland

Literary Genres: Captivity Narratives

Jill H. Casid

Professor of Visual Studies, Department of Art History, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Visual Representations

Andrew Cayton

University Distinguished Professor, History Department, Miami University

Wars of Independence, American

Timothy J. Coates

Professor, Department of History, The College of Charleston

Penal Transportation

Peter A. Coclanis

Director of the Global Research Institute and Albert R. Newsome Professor, Department of History, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

Economies, American: North America

John Collins

Lecturer, History Department, Eastern Washington University

Law, Military

Duane Corpis

Assistant Professor, Department of History, Cornell University

Christianity

Samuel Willard Crompton

Professor, History Department, Holyoke Community College

Military Mobilization; Military Technologies;

Navies and Naval Arming

Christian Ayne Crouch

Assistant Professor, Historical Studies Department,

Bard College

Seven Years’ War

Enrico Dal Lago

Lecturer in American History, Department of History, National University of Ireland, Galway

Underdevelopment; World-Systems Theory

John Donoghue

Associate Professor, Department of History, Loyola University of Chicago

Class

Seymour Drescher

Professor, Department of History, University of Pittsburgh

Abolition of Atlantic Slave Trade

Henry John Drewal

Evjue-Bascom Professor of African and African Diaspora Arts, Departments of Art History & Afro-American Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Mami Wata

Laurent Dubois

Marcello Lotti Professor of Romance Studies and History, Department of Romance Studies, Duke University

The Nineteenth Century; Emancipations; Revolts, Slave

Chris S. Duvall

Assistant Professor, Geography and Environmental Studies, University of New Mexico

Geography

Jordana Dym

Associate Professor, History Department, Skidmore College

Independence: Hispanic Americas

Pieter C. Emmer

Institute for History (emeritus), Leiden University

Economies: European

Robbie Ethridge

Professor, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Mississippi

Economic Strategies, Native North American

Roquinaldo Ferreira

Vasco da Gama Associate Professor, History, Portuguese and Brazilian Studies, Brown University

Slave Trade, Suppression of Atlantic

Charles R. Foy

Assistant Professor, History Department, Eastern Illinois University

Maritime Populations

Zephyr Frank

Associate Professor, Department of History, Stanford University

Economies, American: Brazil

Niklas Frykman

Assistant Professor, Department of History, University of Pittsburgh

Impressment, Kidnapping, and Panyarring

Alan Gallay

Lyndon B. Johnson Chair of U.S. History, Department of History and Geography, Texas Christian University

Slaving, European, of Native Americans

John D. Garrigus

Associate Professor, Department of History, University of Texas at Arlington

Independence: Haiti

Noah L. Gelfand

Adjunct Professor, History Department, University of Connecticut at Stamford

Judaism

Malick W. Ghachem

Associate Professor, History Department, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Liberties, Royal

Michael A. Gomez

Professor, Department of History, New York University

Muslims, African, in the Americas

Pablo F. Gómez

Assistant Professor, Department of History and Geography, Texas Christian University

Healing, African American

Eliga H. Gould

Professor and Department Chair, Department of History, University of New Hampshire

Law of Nations

Karen B. Graubart

Associate Professor, Department of History, Notre Dame University

Ethnicity

Toby Green

Lecturer, Departments of History and Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies, King’s College, London

Diasporas

Allan Greer

Professor and Canada Research Chair in Colonial North America, Department of History and Classical Studies, McGill University

Christianity, Native American

Appropriations of

Keila Grinberg

Associate Professor, History Department, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro

Manumission

Jane I. Guyer

George Armstrong Kelly Professor, Department of Anthropology, Johns Hopkins University

Economic Strategies, African

Jonathan Todd Hancock

Assistant Professor, History Department, Hendrix College

Prophetic Movements (co-author)

Walter Hawthorne

Professor, Department of History, Michigan State University

Technologies, African

Gad Heuman

Professor Emeritus, Department of History, University of Warwick

Freed People

M. H. Hoeflich

Kane Distinguished Professor of Law, University of Kansas, School of Law

Law, Roman, in the Americas

Woody Holton

McCausland Professor of History, History Department, University of South Carolina

Independence: United States

James Horn

Vice President, Research and Historical Interpretation, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

Indentured Contracts

John M. Janzen

Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Kansas, Lawrence

Healing, African

David S. Jones

A. Bernard Ackerman Professor of the Culture of Medicine, Faculty of Arts and Sciences and the Faculty of Medicine, Harvard University

Healing, Native American

Martin A. Klein

Professor Emeritus, Department of History, University of Toronto

Wars, African: Slaving and Other

Wim Klooster

Professor and Chair, Department of History, Clark University

Economic Strategies, European

Karen Ordahl Kupperman

Silver Professor of History, New York University

The Seventeenth Century

Paul S. Landau

Associate Professor, Department of History, University of Maryland

Political Systems, African

Kris Lane

Professor, History Department, Tulane University

Raiders

Pier M. Larson

Professor, Department of History, Johns Hopkins University

Slaving, in Africa

Kimberly Lynn

Associate Professor, Department of Liberal Studies, Western Washington University

Law, Canon

Wyatt MacGaffey

J. R. Coleman Professor Emeritus in Social Anthropology, Haverford College

Religions, African, Historiography of

Ken MacMillan

Professor, Department of History, University of Calgary

Law, Monarchical

Anouar Majid

Vice President for Global Affairs, University of New England

Slaving, Muslim, of Christians

Elizabeth Mancke

Professor and Canada Research Chair in Atlantic Canada Studies, University of New Brunswick

Modernity

Bertie Mandelblatt

Assistant Professor, Department of History and Program in Caribbean Studies, University of Toronto

Foods and Diets

Jane E. Mangan

Associate Professor and Department of History Chair, Latin American Studies Program, Davidson College

Family and Family Networks

Armin Mattes

Gilder Lehrman Research Fellow, Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies at Monticello

Government, Representative

Alexander Mikaberidze

Associate Professor, Department of History and Social Sciences, Louisiana State University, Shreveport

Wars, Napoleonic

Joseph C. Miller

T. Cary Johnson, Jr. Professor, Corcoran Department of History, University of Virginia

Prologue; The Sixteenth Century; Political Systems, Collective Consensual

Cary J. Mock

Professor, Department of Geography, University of South Carolina

Climate and Weather

Michelle Molina

John W. Croghan Associate Professor, Department of Religious Studies, Northwestern University

Missionary Orders and Communities

Christopher Morris

Associate Professor, History, University of Texas at Arlington

River Systems

Melanie Newton

Associate Professor, Department of History, University of Toronto

Gender

Stephan Palmié

Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Chicago

Religions, African, in the Americas

Gabriel Paquette

Assistant Professor, Department of History, Johns Hopkins University

Imperial Planning (co-author)

Mark Peterson

Professor, Department of History, University of California, Berkeley

Capitalism

William A. Pettigrew

Reader, School of History, University of Kent

Commercialization; Law, Commercial

Steve Pincus

Bradford Durfee Professor of History, Yale University

Empires

Geoffrey Plank

Professor of Early Modern History, University of East Anglia

Wars of Conquest

Richard Price

Professor Emeritus, American Studies, College of William & Mary

Creolization; Maroons

James D. Rice

Professor, Department of History, State University of New York, Plattsburgh

Paramount Chiefdoms

David Richardson

Professor, Department of History, University of Hull

Slaving, European, from Africa

Sophia Rosenfeld

Professor, Corcoran Department of History, University of Virginia

Revolutions, National: France

Brett Rushforth

Associate Professor, Lyon G. Tyler Department of History, College of William & Mary

Furs and Skins

Dominic M. Sachsenmaier

Professor, Department of History, Jacobs University

World/Global History

David Harris Sacks

Richard F. Scholz Professor of History and Humanities, History Department, Reed College

Utopias

Neil Safier

Associate Professor, Department of History, University of British Columbia, Vancouver

Cartography

Richard Salvucci

Professor, Department of Economics, Trinity University

Economic Cycles

Alison Sandman

Associate Professor, Department of History, James Madison University

Navigation and Nautical Sciences

Calvin Schermerhorn

Associate Professor, Faculty of History, Arizona State University

Slavery, U.S.

Londa Schiebinger

The John L. Hinds Professor of History of Science, History Department, Stanford University

Natural History

Christopher Schmidt-Nowara

Professor of History and Prince of Asturias Chair in Spanish Culture & Civilization, Department of History, Tufts University

Democratic Revolutions, Age of

James F. Searing (deceased)

University of Illinois, Chicago

Brokers

Erik R. Seeman

Professor, History Department, State University of New York, Buffalo

Diseases

Jon F. Sensbach

Professor, Department of History, University of Florida

Christianity, African American

Jason T. Sharples

Assistant Professor, Department of History, Catholic University

Weapons of the Weak

James Sidbury

Andrew W. Mellon Distinguished Professor of Humanities and Director of Graduate Studies, History Department, Rice University

Race

Frederick H. Smith

Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, College of William & Mary

Economies, American: Caribbean

Patrick Spero

Assistant Professor, Department of History, Williams College

Frontiers

Philip J. Stern

Associate Professor, Department of History, Duke University

Sovereignty; Trading Companies

Fionnghuala Sweeney

Senior Lecturer, School of English Literature, Language, and Linguistics, Newcastle University

Literary Genres: Travel Narratives and Compilations

John Wood Sweet

Associate Professor, Department of History, University of North Carolina

Prophetic Movements (co-author)

Andrew Toebben

Independent Scholar

Imperial Planning (co-author)

Dale Tomich

Professor, Department of History, State University of New York, Binghamton

Agricultural Production

John Tutino

Professor, Department of History, Georgetown University

Family Production and Commercial Labor

Thomas M. Truxes

Clinical Associate Professor, Department of History, New York University

Trading Diasporas

Cécile Vidal

Lecturer, L’École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales

Nation

Jelmer Vos

Assistant Professor, Department of History, Old Dominion University

Christianity, Adaptations in Africa of

Rudolph T. Ware III

Assistant Professor, Department of History, University of Michigan

Islam in Africa

David Weiland

Professor, Department of History, Collin College

Specie

David Wheat

Assistant Professor, Department of History, Michigan State University

Blended Communities

Samuel White

Assistant Professor, Department of History, Ohio State University

Environments

Kelly Wisecup

Assistant Professor, English Department, University of North Texas

Healing, European

Marianne S. Wokeck

Chancellor’s Professor of History, Department of History, Indiana University—Purdue University, Indianapolis

Emigrants

Maps

Map 1. Winds, Currents, and Major Physical Features of the Atlantic World.

Map 2. Sixteenth-Century Atlantic World.

Map shows only features relevant to the historical processes of the century.

Map 3. Seventeenth-Century Atlantic World.

Map shows only features relevant to the historical processes of the century.

Map 4. Eighteenth-Century Atlantic World.

Map shows only features relevant to the historical processes of the century.

Map 5. Early Nineteenth-Century Atlantic World.

Map shows only features relevant to the historical processes of the century.

Part One

Prologue

Historical Dynamics of Change

Joseph C. Miller

The opening century of the four hundred years of Atlantic history explored in this volume can be understood historically only in terms of the cards that the entrants into it brought to the table. The hands they held were similar—in fact global—in Europe, Africa, and the Americas. The historical dynamics that motivated and enabled the players in all three regions revolved around very long-term struggles among powerful military interests, who thrived by conquest of accessible lands and the populations living on them. Other, commercial, interests were also at play in Afro-Eurasia. Merchants thrived by moving through the surrounding uninhabited spaces—often deserts—and also on the seas and oceans.

The customary perspective on these processes tends to celebrate civilizations—expansive empires and the luxuries supported by the wealth appropriated through conquests—thus taking militarism and commerce for granted. This volume balances this familiar story with the more local perspectives of small communities in most of Africa and Native America, as well as more of the ordinary villages in Europe and small communities in the Americas. It also historicizes the triumphs of conquest by emphasizing the costs of achieving them, and even more of maintaining them through time. There is nothing stable about history: continuity is fragile and requires effort to achieve.

Taking a very long-term view, the military conquests prominent in the history of Eurasia were costly and destructive and in the long run tended to burn the aggressors out. On this millennial scale, merchants, on the other hand, tended to accumulate wealth in enduring forms and to grow in financial strength. They invested their excess assets in military regimes that were reaching the logistical limits of plundering and in agricultural and other producers, as well as in more remote, and independent, communities. These relatively isolated communities, in turn, extracted commodities of value to visiting traders, and did so—without abandoning their own strategies of mobility, diversity, and mutual obligations—to invest in productive, but immovable and costly, infrastructure.

Militarists and merchants thus drew similarly on resources external to the structured cultural or political domains within which they competed. The balances among the strategies of local communities, merchant commerce, and military conquest varied by region—Africa, the Americas, and Europe—and within each region as well. This prologue sketches specifics of these variations relevant to what motivated European merchants and militarists to venture out into what became a fast-changing Atlantic World. The results everywhere were enabling for some, if also at the expense of others. But these initial Atlantic-oriented successes eventually proved overwhelmingly effective, enriching, and empowering, primarily for the partnership of merchants and militarists unique to northwestern Europe.

Backgrounds—Lands, People, and Seas

In the second half of the fifteenth century, the open waters of the Atlantic Ocean became historical spaces exploited by humans as relatively marginal players in Europe nosed their ways west beyond the horizons of coast-hugging maritime transportation networks known since ancient times. From Europe, the strong Canary Current flowing south and then west off the desert shores of northwestern Africa carried mariners sponsored by minor members of Portugal’s late-medieval military aristocracy. They probed the barren Saharan coasts in search of fabulous wealth in gold reported to exist in regions beyond the desert, inhabited by people whom Muslims in North Africa distinguished from themselves as black, a term also differentiating them as enslaveable unbelievers. Mariners seem to have been aware of these ocean winds and currents, and even the mid-Atlantic Azores archipelago, as early as the first half of the fourteenth century. The modern name for what we now see as an ocean, the Atlantic, comes from the eastern Mediterranean perspective of those ancient eras and alludes implicitly to the mysteries of the open sea among European literati: the word is an adjectival Greek form (atlantikos) referring to the Atlas Mountains in modern Morocco, thus to the endless waters beyond the Pillars of Hercules (Strait of Gibraltar).

Beyond this fanciful vision of the Atlantic in European-written scholarship, practical mariners and pirates had for centuries ranged widely through the northeastern Atlantic, and a few even out to its closer western shores. Portuguese fishermen are reputed somehow to have crossed the north-flowing Gulf Stream to reach the Grand Banks off modern Newfoundland, where they found greater interest in teeming schools of cod and haddock in the sea itself than in the land or its inhabitants. These northerly latitudes had been well known to Norse mariners, who had settled then-uninhabited Iceland as early as the 800s and in the 900s had reached western Greenland and, at least occasionally, even the North American mainland.

For fourteenth-century Christian Europe, commercial prospects to the east loomed much larger. The sophistication of China became legendary upon Marco Polo’s return in 1295 from his venture along Central Asia’s Silk Road, under the sponsorship of Kublai Khan (1215–1294). The Christian holy lands in the eastern Mediterranean had even earlier become targets of pious late Middle-Age European chivalry, culminating in the Crusades, a series of intermittent raids and military occupations by European knights between 1096 and 1272. It is no wonder that the ocean initially attracted primarily interests who were relatively marginal within Europe at the time.

The people along the other shores of the Atlantic cared even less about open waters. Western Africans were oriented internally toward interpersonal relationships of obligation and trust and exploited the ocean only in accessible tidal estuaries, shallow bays, and an extensive network of lagoons running east from the mouth of the Volta River (in modern Ghana) through the vast delta of the Niger River and on to modern Cameroon. Their maritime technologies centered on offshore fishing with nets in long canoes, and fishing communities occupied the shores of sheltered inlets and dried their catches to exchange with inland neighbors for grains, tubers, and other products. One shallow bay in Central Africa harbored a distinctive small bivalve with a shell (nzimbo) that Kikongo-speaking communities in adjacent inland regions circulated as a kind of regional currency. Beyond the nearby horizons of these shoreline communities, the reddening sun set over an Atlantic underworld of ancestors, Kalunga in the word of the Kongo. Neither evidence nor apparent historical motivation supports a conjecture, sometimes heard, of ancient African ancestors of the Olmecs in Mesoamerica, and a report of a massive fleet dispatched from Senegambia to the west in the fourteenth century is no less legendary.

Native Americans were similarly landlubbers, although they also harvested the shellfish and crustaceans of the shorelines and dried the salt from sometimes elaborately constructed tidal pans to trade with inlanders. Also like Africans, they found their ways out to islands accessible with their canoes. The rich marine resources of the shallow Caribbean waters, including manatees, sea turtles, and reef fishes, had long ago attracted settlers from the mainland of Central America, the overspill of populations growing around maize agriculture. They had been followed somewhat later by cassava-cultivating arrivals from northern South America, later called Arawaks from a word for the starchy tuber domesticated in Amazonian forests that they cultivated.

These smaller communities of most of Africa and Native America were efficient, in the sense of sustaining themselves at relatively low cost through the vagaries of varying climates and occasional momentary concentrations of individual authority. The low maintenance required of such small communities, and their consequent durability and ubiquity (not only in the Americas and Africa but also throughout the world, including Europe), derived from the flexible coordination that they achieved without the burdens of the permanent infrastructure of coercion. In contrast, the Eurasian strategies of monumental construction and military destruction, although generally understood as civilization, came with considerable costs. These very expensive investments are significant historically—that is, in the sense of motivating change—because conquests could be maintained only with often-coerced, and eventually profound, modifications in the lives of the villagers compelled to support the military and ceremonial aristocracies who managed them.

The historical perspective of this volume treats change as a challenge. History is about change, of course, but a historicized account of the Atlantic (or any past) starts from the premise that innovation takes creative effort and resources, that novelty presents challenges for humans to seize as opportunity rather than to resist. Arrangements worked out in the past are the only tools that humans have to draw on to compete for success in the emergent circumstances of the present. They create simplified, highly selective, usually self-interested versions of the past as guidelines used in the present to confront the yawning unknown of an incipient future. History, taking full account of the ephemerality and uncertainties of life, is contingent; outcomes are more accidental than intended.

Understanding the historical Atlantic therefore requires a suspension of the comfortable, optimistic visions that typically construct the European past as progressive. Though civilization in Western societies is based on militarization and material wealth, most Africans and Native Americans lived by less costly standards of achieving and maintaining human community; hence, they were less in need of the external resources of the Atlantic to sustain them. An inclusive, balanced consideration of the regions around the Atlantic in the fifteenth century thus understands the great stone structures; the modestsized urban concentrations of people in Europe, the Americas, and (less commonly in) Africa; and in particular the horse-based extreme militarization unique to the Eurasian background not only as dynamic but also as unstable, costly anomalies sustainable only by constant innovation to reach and absorb ever-more-distant resources. For particular parties on four continents the Atlantic became such a resource, in differing ways.

Europe with Its Back to the Water

The dynamics of military consolidation in Eurasia had revolved for 3,000 years around the vast spaces of the continent’s temperate latitudes, from the Ukraine to Mongolia, especially the speed and power of the horses bred there. Horse-based raiding from the steppes had long before spilled southward into densely populated agrarian valleys from the Yellow River to Mesopotamia and eventually the lower Nile. In the millennium following Roman domination masses of mounted invaders had repeatedly punctuated the history of western Europe, raising the military costs of defense to the limits supportable within its relatively confined spaces.

Although the military aristocrats of Europe invested heavily in defensive redoubts—the dramatically perched castles and walled villages atop hills that now attract tourists—they survived by contracting in scale, and they multiplied accordingly in numbers. Christian prohibitions on lending money at interest had favored Jewish merchants as the creditors of choice among Europe’s military aristocrats, but merchants in Venice, Florence, and Siena, relatively free of landed military competition, used the wealth generated from Mediterranean commerce to take control of these cities as republics. They were distinctive in Europe in the liquidity that they could mobilize for investment in artisan processing—especially glass in Venice and woolen textiles in Florence—and eventually also in banking and credit for the military aristocrats. The major riverine arteries of central Europe—the Rhone, Rhine, and Danube—similarly supported commercial consolidation of liquid wealth in the hands of the great banking families of the Germanic-speaking areas, not least in the low country around the channels where the Rhine emptied into the North Sea.

Merchants represented potential challenges to military power everywhere in Eurasia. Conquest was cheap, but the costs of consolidating military rule tended to escalate beyond the capacities of the local populations called upon to sustain them. Thus the conquerors’ dynastic heirs sustained the initial grandeur paid for through plundering by slipping into debt to merchant bankers. Merchants and bankers, unlike military rulers who supported themselves through destruction of opponents and exploitation of the survivors, accumulated wealth in durable, relatively low-maintenance forms—coins, jewels, transport and storage facilities, and inventories. They then, even more profitably, leveraged these relatively fixed assets by lending against their cash values for higher returns in the future. The formal proscriptions against lending money at interest by Christian authorities in Europe at some level reflected awareness of the long-term promise—and power—of investing capital at interest. Literally with their backs up against the Atlantic coastline, they could not afford the geostrategic division characteristic of parts of Asia—that is, between the military aristocracies ruling over populated territories and merchant networks investing their growing commercial assets in traversing desert wastelands and empty seas.

By the fifteenth century, growing commercial sectors of the European economy were straining the available quantities of the specie that underlay their commercialized transactions. This shortage of monetized bullion was intensified by a persistent drain of silver into the giant Asian world economy, integrated under Islamic law and stretching from Senegal, Andalusia, and eastern Africa’s Swahili Coast to Central Asia and the Philippines. European aristocrats competed to acquire and display the spices, silks, and fine porcelains of the East, but they had little of comparable quality to offer in return.

In a pattern to be duplicated later in the Atlantic, Italian merchants found markets for their modest products among the Slavic-speaking agricultural populations along the Adriatic and around the Black Sea, selling their goods to them on credit. Indebted Slav buyers ended up repaying their Venetian creditors in captives and dependents, mostly girls and women, whom the Italians sold as slaves to service the wealthy merchant households of port cities around the Mediterranean, from Venice to Barcelona. These Slavic-speaking females were gathered in numbers sufficient to provoke public notice. The ethnonym Slavs denigrating them, and eventually also males, as outsiders eventually came to refer also to their status as captives, that is, as slaves in English and cognate terms in most European languages. Thus captive Slavs, and a few Africans, became visible in the Christian Mediterranean as ethnicized outsiders, not as the legal category of servus (for slave) inherited from Roman law.

The legal standing of the enslaved on both Mediterranean shores, Muslim and Christian, was instead largely urban and domestic, in contrast with the later public standing of commercialized slaves as productive assets in the Atlantic. That is, though some captives transited public spaces, the ports and marketplaces, they did so only incidentally as they moved into the private households of the urban families wealthy enough to buy them. Households often acquired them or disposed of them through personal relationships of inheritance or marriage or as donations among friends that did not involve currencies or public markets. Within households they were secluded from monarchical law or the public regulations of other recognized corporate bodies—or orders or estates. Under the law of the Catholic Church their masters and mistresses were responsible for their spiritual welfare. Under similar Muslim domestic laws of familial responsibility for persons, slaves were ʿabd, or similarly beholden to the heads of the households within which they lived. Outside households, governments—primarily the seaport municipalities around the Mediterranean through which captives passed—were involved primarily as buyers and not as regulators. Christian and Muslim authorities alike raided their confessional rivals on the opposing shores of the inland sea for captives and held them for ransoms in cash or employed them for urban services or as galley slaves to move goods through their harbors.

Rural estates could not compete with the prices that prospering households of Mediterranean cities paid for captives. The Christian manors of the medieval Mediterranean, generally too poor to buy enslaveable outsiders or to generate demand for labor in excess of what local populations could offer, therefore made do with the resident peasant labor generally characteristic of Europe. European military aristocrats’ confinement in Eurasia’s western extremity also denied them the access to remote and alien populations that had brought reliable numbers of captives into Muslim domains, from sub-Saharan Africans and Circassians to non-Muslim populations of South Asia and the outlying islands of the Indonesian archipelago. And just as Muslims’ monotheistic community of faith forbade enslaving other believers, so were Christians in western Europe prohibited from enslaving fellow communicants.

The personal politics of monarchical sovereignty in Europe further inhibited slaving. The aspiring Christian monarchs of Europe were seen as benevolent patrons enmeshed in intricate personal relationships of loyalty—lord to liege and on out to villagers living on the estates of the aristocracy—and patronage and protection in return. These mutual responsibilities contrasted with the entirely one-sided power gained in Asia by military conquests. The sovereign authority of monarchy in Europe was thus comprehensive and exclusive within territorially defined domains, and increasingly direct. As fifteenth-century military aristocrats managed slowly to define and implement claims to the singular sovereignty of monarchy, to the exclusion of all competitors for claims on their local populations, they had little room to tolerate the exclusive loyalty to masters that enslavement entailed. Significant retinues of slaves, beyond the reach of monarchical authority, posed potential threats to supreme royal power.

The royal legal codes in thirteenth-century Europe, from Scandinavia to Iberia, promoted significant assertions of dynastic sovereignty beyond the persons of the kings proclaiming them. These codes only exceptionally recognized competing private rights of individuals over captives. Recruitment of personnel by slaving thus withered away in most of Christian Europe. This was not the case, however, in Reconquista Iberia or the independent cities of the Mediterranean. In this context, the increasing commercial, and thus publicly visible, transactions in Slavic-speakers in the fifteenth century prompted creation of the ethnic label that the subsequent distinctively commercialized context of the Atlantic turned into a designation of personal property, and thus a financial asset, with profound consequences for the non-Christians whom Europeans acquired there.

Commerce and Militarization in Africa

The small, flexible communities along the coasts of Africa were relatively self-sufficient. In the interior, communities of traders—pivot points in the extensive regional economies in the northwestern bulge of the continent—had dispersed in diasporas of small settlements linked by their shared Islamic monotheism, literacy employed in contracts and communication over distances, and accompanying Muslim commercial law. With these unifying strategies they moved Saharan salts and other minerals in significant quantities over considerable distances between the desert and the processing and artisan industries of the more populous savanna lands to the south. On their return to the north, the diasporic traders carried grain and other products of the agricultural latitudes, as well as commodities extracted from the margins of the forests beyond, notably oils from palms and nuts from the kola trees found there.

The dramatically contrasting wet and dry seasons of western Africa shifted in latitudes through century-long (or longer) cycles of droughts, which were transformative in intensity and duration. Cultivators favored mobile, flexible strategies of production. They abandoned plots exhausted through cultivation within a generation or so and opened new ones. In these circumstances, it made no sense to invest in permanent, improved fields. Cultivators also favored similarly adaptable methods of political integration. People lived in small communities, where personal familiarity and multiple ongoing relationships defined by mutual commitments lasted through generations. Local village-centered communities understood themselves in terms of reproduction, using the relevant concepts of kinship—genealogies, generations, and marriage alliances—to exchange fertile women among communities defined by descent.

Significant urban concentrations of artisans, merchants, and groups servicing the traders, some of them stable over centuries, marked the latitude at which the desert traders offloaded their camels and donkeys. The trading diasporas carried on to the south with caravans of men bearing packets of salt and other desert commodities on their heads. The fertile alluvial floodplains of the rivers, which rose and fell annually with the strong concentration of rains in the few months of the summer, supported the larger and more enduring of these cities from the valley of the lower Senegal River in the west, east to Lake Chad (and further east to the Upper Nile). The most enduring were Jenne-Jeno in the vast inland delta, or floodplain, of the northeastward-flowing upper course of the Niger River and Gao on the river’s southeasterly middle course.

The best known of these towns, at least in Europe, were the most northerly outposts, the jumping-off points for the long trek across the desert to Mediterranean markets. An early one, an outpost on the very edge of the Sahara since the tenth century or so, had intercepted Muslim traders arriving from Mediterranean North Africa in search of gold from the headwaters of the Niger and Senegal rivers to the south. The market authority in charge of monitoring (and taxing) these exchanges loomed as a mighty king in the militarized style of Asia and Europe for Muslim traders arriving there, at the limit of their resources in this remote and strange land of the blacks (sudan, in Arabic). However, in Africans’ terms—to the network of communities harvesting the gold for trade northward in exchange for imported goods, which they distributed through their own local alliances—he was not. This figure, known as the ghana, exercised personal authority primarily over the vulnerable visitors from the north. The ghana, in effect, quarantined the Muslim outsiders to insulate the southern communities, integrated around distribution and sharing of material wealth, from the greedy material accumulation of the commercial world of the Mediterranean.

The regional trading diasporas, as well as artisan guilds in the towns, extended the intimate language of kinship and descent to keep their distinctive, and thus valuable, specialized knowledge, skills, and contacts to themselves. They dressed, behaved, and spoke in distinguishing ways that highlighted themselves and thus what they had to offer to neighbors who lacked their unique and stylized products and services. They acknowledged the diverse others around them with collective ethnonyms, which Europeans learned as they sought partners suitable for doing business. Though Europeans exoticized these characteristics for Africans as tribal, these names for the occupational groups in African towns differed little from the similarly ethnicized foreign trading nations of towns in Europe.

Distributed and differentiated complementing powers, like the differentiated communities, were characteristic of the political systems of Africa. They were composites, or networks, of the local reproducing communities of kin. However, a centuries-long dry phase in western Africa after about 1100 had dramatically corroded this balance. The desiccation severely distressed the so-called Berbers living in the desert, herders of livestock—donkeys, horses, camels—and masters of the oases. They rallied around an intense reformist vision

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