Trans-Imperial Bondage: The French Slave Trade in the Early Eighteenth-Century Spanish Caribbean

Saturday, January 3, 2015: 2:30 PM
Carnegie Room East (Sheraton New York)
Aaron Alejandro Olivas, University of California, Los Angeles
In August 1701, Felipe V of Spain granted the French Compagnie Royale de Guinée rights to the Asiento and other unprecedented commercial privileges in Spanish American ports—the gateways to the empire’s wealth. While the diplomatic history of the Asiento in eighteenth-century Europe is well known, scholars have largely overlooked the impact of French participation in the Spanish colonial slave monopoly on the actual trafficking of enslaved Africans into the Spanish Caribbean. Using records from the Archivo General de Indias alongside correspondence from France’s naval archives, this paper focuses on the Compagnie Royale de Guinée’s slave voyages to Cartagena de Indias and La Guaira—two centers of intense trans-imperial interaction throughout the War of the Spanish Succession—to reveal the dramatic consequences of Bourbon succession on both the transatlantic slave trade and early modern global politics.
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