October 23, 2011
BOOK OF THE WEEK: WEEK FORTY-THREE, 2011
Hugh Thomas, The Golden Empire: Spain, Charles V, and the Creation of America (New York: Random House, 2010) ("There were other more domestic disputes for Alfinger to try to settle. . . . [N]either Alfinger nor his colleagues in Santo Domingo had been able to fulfill the demand for slaves to work there, neither Indians nor blacks. The bishop of Santo Domingo would write shortly to the emperor Charles (1530) that the very survival not just of his island but also of Puerto Rico and of Cuba depended on the provision of African slaves. He suggested that all these colonies should be able to import them without licenses." Id. at 154. "[B]lack slaves of African origin had usually been taken to the America from Europe, having probably been born in Portugal or Spain. But now slave ships began to sail direct from Africa to the New World. . . . " "Clearly, too, many of the slaves taken from Spain or Portugal to the Spanish empire now came from Africa, as was testified by the belief that all the difficulties encountered in disciplining them derived from Muslim wolofes, a term used to describe a Muslim tribe in Wet Africa--an anxiety which led to a ban in 1526 on the import of such slaves. . . . " "A decree from the King in 1526 had repealed the slaving provision in the more tolerant code of Alfonso el Sabio, the Siete Partidas in the thirteenth century, which provided that a slave who married would become free: Already the complexities of black slaves marrying free Indians had begun to preoccupy agile state lawyers." "Thereafter, nevertheless, black slaves, tied to their masters or no, would play a decisive part in most European ventures in the America." "Thus when in 1527 Panfilo de Narvaez, veteran survivor of Cortes's expedition, set off for the conquest of Florida, he had his expected crew of men with names such as Cuellar, Alanis, and Enriquez. But there were also several black slaves, their names forgotten but their work essential." Id. at 155-156.).