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Atlantic Africa and the Spanish Caribbean, 1570-1640

Atlantic Africa and the Spanish Caribbean, 1570-1640

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    Atlantic Africa and the Spanish Caribbean, 1570-1640
    Book Description:

    This work resituates the Spanish Caribbean as an extension of the Luso-African Atlantic world from the late sixteenth to the mid-seventeenth century, when the union of the Spanish and Portuguese crowns facilitated a surge in the transatlantic slave trade. After the catastrophic decline of Amerindian populations on the islands, two major African provenance zones, first Upper Guinea and then Angola, contributed forced migrant populations with distinct experiences to the Caribbean. They played a dynamic role in the social formation of early Spanish colonial society in the fortified port cities of Cartagena de Indias, Havana, Santo Domingo, and Panama City and their semirural hinterlands.David Wheat is the first scholar to establish this early phase of the "Africanization" of the Spanish Caribbean two centuries before the rise of large-scale sugar plantations. With African migrants and their descendants comprising demographic majorities in core areas of Spanish settlement, Luso-Africans, Afro-Iberians, Latinized Africans, and free people of color acted more as colonists or settlers than as plantation slaves. These ethnically mixed and economically diversified societies constituted a region of overlapping Iberian and African worlds, while they made possible Spain's colonization of the Caribbean.

    eISBN: 978-1-4696-2532-4
    Subjects: History, Sociology
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. i-vi)
  2. Acknowledgments (pp. vii-x)
  3. Table of Contents (pp. xi-xii)
  4. List of Illustrations (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. List of Abbreviations (pp. xv-xvi)
  6. Editorial Note (pp. xvii-xx)
  7. Prologue (pp. 1-4)

    From his concealed position on the river’s opposite bank, Pedro Yalonga observed the Englishmen who had come to Panama in search of Spanish American silver. Setting sail in 1595 with twenty-seven ships and twenty-five hundred men, the infamous pirate and privateer Sir Francis Drake had already assaulted Puerto Rico, Riohacha, and Santa Marta before turning to Panama. When his fleet landed at Nombre de Dios in January 1596, the city was deserted; its inhabitants had received ample warning and retreated into the interior. Only a few volunteers remained nearby in Santiago del Príncipe, a village of resettled maroons. The previous...

  8. Introduction (pp. 5-19)

    In 1534, city council members in San Juan, Puerto Rico, described the island’s heavy reliance on enslaved sub-Saharan African workers as a necessary evil: “Like one who has the wolf by its ears, so that it is neither good to let it go nor to keep holding on, in the end we cannot live without black people; it is they who are the laborers, and no Spanish person will work here.” Spanish colonial administrators throughout the circum-Caribbean made similar assertions during much of the following century, long after the decline of early mining and sugar industries and even in areas...

  9. ONE The Rivers of Guinea (pp. 20-67)

    Sailing from the Cape Verde Islands toward Cartagena de Indias, the slave shipNuestra Señora de la Concepciónwrecked off the coast of present-day Colombia near the mouth of the Magdalena River in 1593. The caravel’s crew members and passengers, and most of its captives—those who had survived the transoceanic voyage—managed to swim ashore. Spanish American authorities based in the nearby town of Santa Marta immediately began to collect evidence to determine whether the shipwreck had been a genuine accident or merely a ploy to cover up the unauthorized disembarkation of enslaved Africans. With the help of the...

  10. TWO The Kingdoms of Angola (pp. 68-103)

    In January 1590, black ranch hands found eleven half-starved African men wandering across westernmost Cuba, near Cabo San Antón. Though one was too ill to make the sixty-league journey to Havana, the others were soon brought before the island’s royal officials. To learn of the circumstances behind their arrival, officials conscripted “Mariana of the Angola nation,” aladina(Latinized) domestic servant “who knows the language of these blacks.” Instructed to “speak to them in their language and to ask them what she was commanded,” Mariana began to pose questions to “one of the blacks who seemed most capable of answering.”...

  11. THREE Tangomãos and Luso-Africans (pp. 104-141)

    Departing the port of Buguendo on Christmas Eve 1574, the caravelSan Jorgefollowed the São Domingos River until it emptied into the larger Cacheu River, a direct passage to the Atlantic Ocean. As its crew and passengers later testified, they were bound for the nearby Cape Verde Islands. They expected their journey to last only four days, but a storm severely damaged the vessel on their third day at sea. Strong winds prevented them from sailing north or east. They were left with no choice, they claimed, other than to sail west toward “the Indies,” a well-known route traveled...

  12. FOUR Nharas and Morenas Horras (pp. 142-180)

    In 1583, Cartagena’s city council sent a petition to the Spanish crown in hopes of obtaining assurance that soldiers, sailors, and Indies fleet passengers would have to abide by local laws while in port, rather than answering exclusively to their own commanding officers or other maritime authorities. A set of testimonies appended to the petition provides a fascinating glimpse of daily life during the late sixteenth century in a Spanish Caribbean seaport that regularly hosted large floating populations. Several witnesses described the sufferings of Cartagena’s residents at the hands of unruly passers-through, beginning with the story of thecriada(servant)...

  13. FIVE Black Peasants (pp. 181-215)

    Known as the Hospital of Saint Lazarus, Cartagena’s leper asylum was located just outside the city, on the main road leading to and from the province’s interior. Alarmed by an outbreak of leprosy in the late 1620s, city council members requested royal funds to pay for the construction of an outer wall to contain the approximately sixty lepers housed there. Various residents, including a royal physician(protomédico), shared the council’s concerns about quarantining the disease and maintaining control over the leper population. Since those believed to have contracted leprosy were sent to the asylum regardless of race, sex, or social...

  14. SIX Becoming “Latin” (pp. 216-252)

    Like other non-Iberians in early modern Iberian societies, African migrants to the Spanish Caribbean were commonly classified according to their degree of familiarity with Spanish or Portuguese languages and cultures. At the bottom of a widely employed scale of perceived acculturation, sub-Saharan Africans were often described asbozal, an adjective and noun signifying “muzzle” in present-day Spanish. To some extent, the term is comparable tochapetón, a Spanish-American word that referred to rosy-cheeked Iberians newly arrived in the Americas. But Africans labeled as “bozales” were not merely inexperienced greenhorns; they were viewed as newcomers to the Iberian world in general,...

  15. Conclusion (pp. 253-266)

    In April 1635, Spanish shipmaster Francisco Fernandez set out from Nicaragua on a routine business trip to Portobelo. Upon reaching the Caribbean coast, he was surprised to discover a “white man” trudging along the shoreline. The stranger immediately surrendered, walking toward Fernandez with his hands behind his head, then sinking to his knees. Though he spoke no Spanish, the stranger repeated one word—“negro, negro”—and pointed toward the San Juan River, which emptied into the Caribbean roughly one league away. That night over dinner, the stranger, who Fernandez judged to be English or Dutch, spoke freely in his own...

  16. APPENDIX 1 Population Estimates, circa 1600 (pp. 267-282)
  17. APPENDIX 2 Bishop Córdoba Ronquillo’s Proposed Sites for Agregaciones in Cartagena’s Province, 1634 (pp. 283-286)
  18. APPENDIX 3 Africans, Afrocreoles, Iberians, and Others Baptized in Havana’s Iglesia Mayor, 1590–1600 (pp. 287-294)
  19. APPENDIX 4 Sub-Saharan Africans Baptized in Havana by Ethnonym and Year, 1590–1600 (pp. 295-298)
  20. APPENDIX 5 Free People of Color in Havana’s Baptismal Records, 1590–1600 (pp. 299-304)
  21. A Note on Sources (pp. 305-306)
  22. Glossary (pp. 307-314)
  23. Index (pp. 315-332)