Bartering for Slaves on the Upper Guinea Coast in the Early Seventeenth Century


in Brokers of Change

Published by British Academy

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780197265208
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191754180 | DOI:

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy

Bartering for Slaves on the Upper Guinea Coast in the Early Seventeenth Century

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  • Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)


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In the context of debates about the definition and origins of globalisation and the role of African agency in the Atlantic slave trade, this chapter examines the commodities traded by Portuguese New Christian slave traders on the Upper Guinea coast in the early 17th century. Based on detailed account books of three slave traders discovered in the Inquisition section of the Archivo General de la Nación in Lima, Peru, it shows how Africans often determined the types and prices of goods exchanged and forced Europeans to adapt to local trade networks. Hence while commodities such as Indian textiles and beads reflected the position of the Portuguese slave traders in a global trading network, at the same time they were actively involved in trading locally produced cloth and beeswax as well as slaves.

Keywords: slave trade; Upper Guinea Coast; New Christians; Portuguese; globalisation; textiles; beeswax

Chapter.  11378 words. 

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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