Movements of People in the Atlantic World, 1450–1850

William O'Reilly

in The Oxford Handbook of the Atlantic World

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199210879
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in History

Movements of People in the Atlantic World, 1450–1850


The movement of people in the Atlantic world in the period 1450–1850 is a story of categorisation, organisation, and exploitation of labour in a time of global transformation. More than 25 million people were transported from east to west, to be planted in South, Central and North America, the Caribbean, the Atlantic islands, and the West African littoral. The fruits of this seed labour came irrevocably to transform the demographic composition of the Americas and Africa, and to a lesser extent Europe. Some migrants were slaves, or unfree white colonists, notably convicts and prisoners, or indentured servants whose liberties were severely limited. Religion and language, as well as flora and fauna, travelled with the first colonists; one accident of Spanish and general European colonialism was the environmental and ecological transformation of the Americas. This article also looks at migration in the Atlantic world in relation to Africans, Spain, Portugal, Britain, Ireland, the Netherlands, and France.

Keywords: Atlantic world; migration; slaves; religion; language; Americas; Spain; Britain; Caribbean; Portugal

Article.  8172 words. 

Subjects: History

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