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Chapter Summary

Knowledge of the African transatlantic slave trade is based primarily on its operation in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries when the slave trade was at its height and for which information collected by abolitionists greatly adds to the evidence available. The Portuguese had been involved in African slave trade since the mid-fifteenth century. Slavery had been common in the Mediterranean since Roman times though by the fifteenth century it had ceased to be a significant labor system in the region. The opening up of the New World brought a new dimension to slave trading activities. Interest in the African and Atlantic sectors of the slave trade during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries has come primarily from Africanists or Brazilianists. The early Portuguese slave trade to Spanish America is not only interesting in itself but it throws light on broader issues of historical interest.

Keywords: african slave trade; new world; portuguese slave trade; spanish america



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