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Baculamento or Encomienda?

Legal Pluralisms and the Contestation of Power in the Pan-Atlantic World of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries

In: Journal of Global Slavery
Author: Toby Green1
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This article examines pan-Atlantic legal jurisdictions in the early Atlantic world to argue that the legal domains of people nominally conquered by Iberian powers are of fundamental importance to understanding the emergence of subjectivities in Atlantic Africa during the era of the slave trade. An analysis of the legal framing of the enco-mienda in Mexico and of categories of slavery in Brazil shows how transformations in the Americas influenced the development of plural legal frameworks in Atlantic Africa in proto-colonial settings, specifically Angola and Upper Guinea.

Abstract

This article examines pan-Atlantic legal jurisdictions in the early Atlantic world to argue that the legal domains of people nominally conquered by Iberian powers are of fundamental importance to understanding the emergence of subjectivities in Atlantic Africa during the era of the slave trade. An analysis of the legal framing of the enco-mienda in Mexico and of categories of slavery in Brazil shows how transformations in the Americas influenced the development of plural legal frameworks in Atlantic Africa in proto-colonial settings, specifically Angola and Upper Guinea.

Introduction: Microhistories, Pan-Atlantic Flows and Legal Pluralisms

In 1636, Manuel Alvarez Prieto, a New Christian, came before the Inquisition tribunal in Cartagena. As with all Inquisition cases, the interrogation began with Alvarez Prieto being asked about his origins and career history. He had been apprenticed to the slave trader Lope Henriques de Guzman, living with him in [Upper] Guinea for seven or eight years, before returning to Spain, and then settling in Lisbon. After four years in Lisbon, Alvarez Prieto embarked for Angola and from there sailed to the Río de la Plata, from where he made his way to Salvador da Bahía. From Salvador he returned to Angola before going to Cartagena, traveling to Puerto Rico and then to Seville and Lisbon; from Lisbon to Cabo Verde and Upper Guinea, thence to the Moroccan coast and back to Upper Guinea, from where he returned to Lisbon. In Lisbon he spent another four years, where he married the daughter of the well-known slave trader resident in Cacheu, Alvaro Gonçalves Frances. Eventually, Alvarez Prieto returned to Cacheu and then crossed the Atlantic with a cargo of enslaved Africans to Cartagena, where the Inquisition caught up with him.1

The study of such microhistories in the Atlantic world has become a useful narrative way for historians to explore the overlapping identities that emerged in the early Atlantic world. This recent “biographical turn” has shown how such stories can illuminate the broader processes that have drawn the attention of historians.2 The mobility of individuals such as Alvarez Prieto—whose career, rooted in Iberian imperialism, spanned West Africa, the Americas, and Iberia—reveals that the Atlantic emerged as an integrated network of human experiences, as well as an abstract system of trade and connections. As Roquinaldo Ferreira has shown, trans-continental lives run throughout the interconnections of Angola and Brazil from the mid-seventeenth century to the mid-nineteenth century; and as a recent article shows, this pattern dates from even the sixteenth century in both Upper Guinea and West Central Africa.3

The peripatetic life of the New Christian Alvarez Prieto moved through the pan-Atlantic Iberian legal frameworks that took shape around the turn of the seventeenth century. In this article, these frameworks exemplify the legal pluralism of the early Iberian colonial worlds, where jurisdictional definitions of both Iberian and indigenous legal systems from the Americas and Africa were overlaid upon one another in order to create a system of law that codified the abuses of power of the Iberian colonial worlds. The connected networks linking both Africa and the Americas in this period ensured that this was a framework that applied to legal cases on both sides of the Atlantic.4

Examples of this sort of “pan-Atlantic jurisdiction” are many. In the Inquisition trial of Alvarez Prieto, for instance, the inquisitorial lawyers took evidence from witnesses who had known the defendant in West Africa as well as in the New World. Indeed, in many of the cases tried by Inquisitors in Cartagena in the 1630s, legal depositions taken in West Africa were transcribed and submitted as part of the evidence heard in the New World.5 This pan-Atlantic practice suggests that, when it came to Iberian colonial law, and the legal conditions surrounding enslavement and the formation of legal identities, jurisdictions in both West Africa and the New World were widely recognized.

Nevertheless, this pan-Atlantic framework varied in its specifics according to indigenous legal concepts, for these, too, were drawn upon in the emerging legal pluralism. Taking concepts from indigenous legal categories, as well as colonial ones, offered paths to ensure that the new domains of power would be recognizable in terms long internalized by indigenous peoples. In this way, colonial officials aimed at building new legal frameworks and the creation of new ideas of personhood and political identity, or subjectivities. A core argument presented here is that the legal domains of people nominally conquered are of fundamental importance to understanding the emergence of subjectivities in Atlantic Africa during the era of the slave trade.

Pan-Atlantic legal pluralism played a key role in the transformation of Atlantic identities. Historian José Lingna Nafafé notes that new types of subjectivities and discursive practices were key features unifying historical experiences in West Africa in the seventeenth century.6 And as Lauren Benton has shown, colonial identities in the Iberian colonial worlds were fundamentally connected to the development of new plural legal frameworks. Benton is possibly unique among legal historians in taking seriously the importance of African legal practices interacting with Iberian practices to shape legal pluralisms in both the Americas and in such colonial domains in Africa as Angola. As Benton notes, the Iberian worlds before the colonial expansion were already plural, with a “coexistence of multiple legal authorities” bridging the religious and secular legal worlds of Christians, Jews and Muslims.7 Subsequently, complementing diasporas, slaves captured in warfare, and the influence of Islam, all contributed to what she identifies as homological legal frameworks linking African and Iberian communities in the early Atlantic world.8 Benton’s work, as such, draws parallels between legal structures on both sides of the Atlantic, and she utilizes this framework in discussing the emergence of maroon communities in the Americas. Indeed, in the case of enslaved Africans in the Americas, Herman Bennett and James Sweet have illustrated the agility with which Africans negotiated plural jurisdictions. Bennett’s work for New Spain shows just how thoroughly enslaved Africans used the legal frameworks of the colonial state, and also of the Catholic Church, to form an “Afro-Creole consciousness,” which was both shaped by this framework and yet challenging it.9 In the case of Brazil, Sweet shows also how far this analysis informed the choices and actions of Africans and those of African descent in colonial society.10

However, while Benton relates Iberian experiences in Africa to others in the Americas in abstract terms, she engages less with the actual experiences of these plural Atlantic legal frameworks in the African context. Indeed, while a number of scholars have shown how the subjectivities of enslaved Africans and their descendants emerged through the appropriation and contestation of legal categories in the New World, that work remains to be done for precolonial Atlantic Africa.11 This study proposes to address this gap with a preliminary attempt to outline some of the issues at stake, drawing on a limited range of materials, in the hope that other scholars will further engage this debate. The primary focus is Atlantic Africa, though the pan-Atlantic Iberian framework also requires discussion of Iberian’s connections to Native American communities in the New World.

Benton makes it clear that legal pluralism emerged in contexts of colonial rule, where there was a need to “limit legal change as a way of sustaining social order” by incorporating elements of existing legal frameworks in order to create overlapping concepts and jurisdictional claims.12 In other words, early modern colonial orders had to recognize the limits of political power in that era, when technologies of control were not as advanced as they would become in modern colonial regimes. A mixed regime of powers had to incorporate legal institutions from the colonized not only to function but also so that the manifestation of power could be internalized to shape new identities. Subjectivities in the new colonial settings were thus shaped by the juxtaposition and attempted integration of different legal codes.

This attempted integration of differing legal codes is, of course, very relevant for scholars of Africa, since legal pluralism in twentieth-century colonial history is widely acknowledged. A number of scholars have shown how legal pluralism is vital for examining the transformation of identities in colonial Africa, and for understanding the nuances of legal frameworks in postcolonial independent African nation-states.13 Much less work has been done, in contrast, on legal pluralism in Africa before the twentieth century. Ferreira does note that the cases of the tribunais de mucanos show that a framework of legal pluralism existed in seventeenth and eighteenth-century Angola.14 However, much remains to be done in this area, especially relating to the question of the pan-Atlantic parallels and the role of “travelling concepts.”

Pan-Atlantic legal dualism arose from the combination of Portuguese and Spanish domains of law in the era of Iberian Union (1580–1640). While Portuguese and Spanish legal domains remained theoretically distinct throughout this period, there were significant overlaps in practice. Indeed, as Sanjay Subrahmanyam has pointed out, by the mid-1500s distinctions in legal practices in the two Iberian empires were already becoming blurred.15 In the case of the South Atlantic, David Wheat’s book shows that the trans-Atlantic slave trade linked the two empires, and, indeed, Wheat argues that slave production by Portuguese in West Central Africa and slavery in the Spanish Caribbean were complementary aspects of a single, unified history.16 Thus, it is not anomalous to take the two Iberian empires together in this context; rather, the historical realities demand it. While this emphasis on the integration of the two domains might suggest the need to look beyond the Atlantic, to show connection between the Iberian domains in Asia and the Indian Ocean, the details of that engagement lie beyond the scope of this article—although, again, the perspective developed here might prompt further work in this area.17

This article proceeds with three further parts. The first looks at the continuities in legal practices connected to slavery in the New World, New Spain (Mexico) and Brazil, showing the relevance of legal pluralism and of indigenous concepts in this framework. The second section links Atlantic Africa and the Americas in the early seventeenth century, showing that there were important continuities that shaped the perception of slaves and the practices of enslavement on both sides of the Atlantic. The section also examines how a shared practice and jurisprudence of slavery emerged in African and American Atlantic ports by 1650. This shared jurisprudence was grounded in shared financial interests, and that the plural legal framework which emerged was a requirement of “doing business.” The third and final part focuses on a well-known case from the Inquisition in seventeenth-century Upper Guinea as a prism through which to look anew at the question of pan-Atlantic legal pluralism.

Altepetl or Encomienda? Legal Pluralisms in the Early Americas

This analysis should begin in the New World, where the context of legal pluralism in the shaping of colonial identities and mentalities is already well established, by Benton among others. As already noted, the work of Bennett in plotting the path of legal consciousness and agency in colonial Mexico has revealed how significant the intersection of existing patterns of law and colonial authority is for understanding the formation of colonial subjectivities. It is nonetheless important to emphasize that there were overlapping concepts and influences that ran between the Spanish and Portuguese empires, which influenced practices as well, especially between 1580 and 1640. These convergences grew from the initial responses of the Spanish to their empire in the first decades of the sixteenth century.

In his book on practices of slavery, the anthropologist Fernando Santos Granero argues that the creation of systems of enslavement of Native Americans in the Iberian empires was not solely a colonial product but also followed the integration by observers of “mutual recognition of resemblances between respective forms of servitude [that] facilitated the passage from one to the other.”18 That is, indigenous forms of servitude were integrated with and adapted to the new colonial context; and in some places, such as among the Taíno of the Greater Antilles, Spaniards made relatively few major alterations to existing hierarchical social structures in the immediate aftermath of the conquest.19 Moreover, just as the recognition of analogous patterns of servitude and dependence between Europe and the Americas was important in constructing the political economy of Native American labor in the Iberian empires, so too were the parallels perceived between enslaved Africans and indentured Native Americans in the minds of raiders, traders, and colonists. Native Americans in encomiendas were not “chattel slaves,” and hence not legally defined as property. Complex legal frameworks emerged and pretended to protect indigenous people’s rights during the sixteenth century, even during an era of utter demographic devastation; and yet in the minds of colonists, mine overseers, and plantation owners, the distinct legal categories and requirements of enslaved African and conscripted Native American laborers were in practice frequently overtaken by the imperative for them to secure workers for the new extractive industries.20

This link to indigenous forms of servitude does not imply some kind of legal or moral equivalence. Rather, these legal idioms offered an indigenous lexicon through which to interpret the new systems of power, and, for the colonizing power, a framework through which to attempt to make legal theory match realities on the ground. This article shows that existing Native American and African legal frameworks were transformed under the new systems of colonial power and domination. Hence the place of indigenous legal frameworks does not somehow justify the violent transformations that took place, but rather serves to explicate the process by which they occurred.

It is useful to begin with New Spain, which was the first mainland American colony to experience significant colonial demands for native labor. While the encomienda was a resolutely Spanish institution, it had important parallels with institutions in the Portuguese empire. As Subrahmanyam suggests, indeed, by the middle of the sixteenth century Portuguese initiatives in Brazil and the Estado da Índia drew consciously on the practice of the encomienda, even after the New Laws of 1542 had reformed this method of labor mobilization.21 Hence while this article does not propose a specialist analysis of the encomienda, it recognizes the importance of this institution as prefiguring some of the transformations that subsequently occurred on both sides of the Atlantic.

The encomienda emerged as a way of melding colonial labor requirements and indigenous practice. As the doyen of Mexican historians Sílvio Zavala noted, there were important continuities from indigenous labor practices in the early Spanish colony. Colonists were keen to employ native practices for organizing labor for their own use following the fall of Tenochtitlán in 1521. Even during the siege, Cortés employed native labor to repair ditches and to build houses for the Spaniards.22 This deployment of Native American labor depended substantially on existing Nahua institutions. Here the work of historian James Lockhart is important, especially his argument that the basis of encomiendas, or the grants of the service of people, in Mexico was the Nahua altepetl, traditionally a sovereign political unit (akin to a city-state) led by noblemen who commanded the labor of its members. As Lockhart shows, the organization of the “benefits” of the encomienda to the colonist depended crucially on the power wielded by the altepetl’s governor over his subjects.23

Ways in which encomenderos consciously attempted to reproduce pre-existing labor relations are clear in the early documents. In 1530, for instance, the encomendero Juan Núñez Sedeño complained that Hernán Cortés had deprived him of his “encomendados [laborers],” who “could have been of profit and service [to him], with gold and maize and cloth and cocoa and food and slaves and the houses which they would have built for him, as the indios are accustomed so to do …”24 Meanwhile, witnesses in a 1533 case regarding the tributes owed from the towns of Totolapa and Atlatlahuca cited pre-conquest tributary requirements as evidence for their demands, showing the continuity in practices of labor procurement and service.25

This co-optation of existing labor relations was crucial to the Spanish since, as Timothy Yeager shows, it allowed them to draw on a framework that differentiated the labor services of encomendados from the longstanding Iberian legal concept of slavery, since encomenderos had no property rights over the indigenous vassals of the king or over their lands.26 Much of this continuity was therefore secured through attempts to deploy indigenous legal categories. An important example of this appropriation of familiar arrangements is the macehual, a bonded laborer analogous perhaps to a serf in medieval Europe. Early post-conquest documents often refer to macehuales in the context of labor and the appointed native governors called them “our macehuales.”27 However, the labor that the Spaniards demanded of macehuales was radically different to that which had been demanded before the conquest. The category was transformed by the new context of conquest and consequent loss of autonomy. In one case, the colonist Matías Sánchez was accused of such heedless and brutal treatment of macehuales that “his land has become depopulated and the macehuales are going elsewhere … because they are horrified at what is asked of them and of the size of the burdens which they are asked to carry.” In other words, the moral economy of pre-conquest labor relations, which implied restraint and mutual dependence between noblemen and macehuales, was unchained by the new legal and labor context of the Spanish conquest. While attempting to match new labor demands to old frameworks of law and labor, the bounds of those frameworks were stretched, beyond breaking point, as macehuales fled men such as Sánchez.28

This discussion of the conditions in New Spain already reveals some important aspects of legal pluralism in the early pan-Atlantic world. The deployment of indigenous categories such as the macehual and the altepetl did not mean that pre-conquest conditions of power were also reproduced. What the nesting of legal frameworks achieved—in this case the indigenous within the colonial—was often the stretching of indigenous concepts in an attempt to smooth over the violence and injustice of the conquest. As we shall see, this is a pattern with many similarities in areas of Atlantic Africa.

Increasing numbers of enslaved Africans added to the transformation of existing indigenous institutions in central Mexico. Their legal constitution as personal property under Iberian law created a certain slippage in indigenous concepts, as Lockhart notes. The Nahua word tlatlacotin was the original term that best approximated that of slave in Roman-derived jurisprudence; but while there was much discussion among Spanish legal authorities as to whether Nahua tlatlacotin should be identified with the Spanish concept of slave, Nahua documentation of the first half of the sixteenth century shows that the Nahua themselves referred to individual African slaves as tlacotli.29 Given that the type of labor enforceable upon African slaves and tlatlacotin was very different, this created new emphases within the original term, creating a certain conceptual hybridity. Thus, as the sixteenth century unwound, new relationships of power and authority were increasingly transforming indigenous labor concepts and creating a mixed environment for their use. Nevertheless, there were many continuities, especially in the way in which the encomienda relied on indigenous systems of dependence and labor organization.30

In the Iberian New World context, therefore, there was a vital intersection of perceptions and legal frameworks surrounding the labor demanded of both Africans and Native Americans. Nor was connection limited to the case of Mexico. As Kris Lane has shown, in Barbacoas (southwest Colombia) enslaved Africans almost completely replaced the labor performed by Native Americans after the granting of new encomiendas protecting them in the 1620s.31 Alida Metcalf has shown that this practical and perceptual slippage was especially significant in the Brazilian context, where Portuguese colonists originally applied concepts of slavery derived from their experiences in Atlantic Africa to the native Tupinambá.32 The Brazilian context for pan-Atlantic plural legal frameworks was particularly prominent on the sugar plantations of Bahía, where Native Americans initially performed the labor, and enslaved African labor took over this task only after 1590. Thus, if Santos Granero is correct, and the intersection of European and Native American perceptions of dependence and labor were important for the foundation of New World systems of enslaved labor, Brazil from the 1590s onwards was a vital legal and structural context into which enslaved African labor was inserted.

Into the Brazilian context we should also note the importance of the intersection of the ideological construction of captivities and legal frameworks. Here, as Metcalf notes, the African context was also important. In the context of enslavement in Africa, the place of slaves as captives was fundamental, and indeed was a crucial legal context that went back to the beginnings of the Atlantic slave trade from Senegambia to Portugal in the fifteenth century. Here, scholars have argued that Portuguese chroniclers deliberately emphasized the Muslim religion of Senegambian captives, so as to present continuities from the established legality of enslavement in “just wars” long established in the Mediterranean. This legal framing of secure and transferable title to captives became the cornerstone of subsequent legal frameworks relating to the enslavement of Africans in Iberian colonial contexts.33

The perception that enslaved Africans in the New World had come from captivity in Africa—and were therefore justly enslaved—was a key ideological buttress of the emerging slave trade by the early sixteenth century. An anonymous letter written some time shortly after 1613 suggested that enslaved Africans “never launched uprisings, and this is because they are born and raised as Captives in their lands, and are sold as such by those who are their masters.”34 This idea of enslaved Africans as “captives” is enduring in literatures from the Americas, with many wills from northeastern Brazil in the later seventeenth century describing slaves as “captives [cautivas].”35

In Brazil, as in New Spain, the presence of enslaved Africans alongside Native American laborers created a context for the transformation of existing concepts. The late John Monteiro’s pathfinding analysis of Native American slavery in São Paulo reminds us that while there were relations of dependence in pre-contact Brazil, there was little social hierarchy in Tupinambá communities, since chiefs would perform manual labor alongside their people.36 Missionaries such as the Jesuit Manuel da Nóbrega claimed that there had been no slavery in pre-contact Brazil, and such captives as there were, tended to be kept for religious sacrifice, and certainly not for economically productive labor.37

Nevertheless, in spite of the fundamental difference between participatory and coercive labor, over time the Portuguese practices of slavery in Brazil became very similar for Africans and Native Americans, as Monteiro also shows. Portuguese structures of forced labor for Native Americans in São Paulo were not that far removed from those imposed on Africans in the sugar-producing zones of the northeast.38 Indeed, this convergence becomes explicit in the terrible bandeiras in the 1620s, the Paulistas’ slave raids on the Guaraní living in the Brazil-Paraguay borderlands. Captives taken in those raids were sold as slaves in Espírito Santo, Rio de Janeiro, and Bahía alongside Africans brought from Angola through the slave trade. Ships indeed left the port of Santos, near São Paulo, “filled with [Guaraní] ‘peças’ destined for the sugar mills of Pernambuco.”39 At the same time, in Bahia, the term peças was also being applied to captives taken in the regional slave raids dispatched by Portuguese officials into the interior from Salvador, even though this term had derived from that used for enslaved Africans.40

By the first part of the seventeenth century, models of enslavement had emerged in both Portuguese and Spanish America that derived from European ideological frameworks as applied to experiences in Africa. While in Spanish America the legal frameworks surrounding indigenous people offered more protection in theory, in practice slippages were common. This amalgamation of concepts created a plural and pan-Atlantic institutional framework for coerced labor grounded in just war and a system of dependence, which, as Santos Granero suggests, was designed to extract as much of the “vital energy” of the enslaved as possible.

Baculamento or Encomienda? Transitional Legal Structures in Atlantic Africa

The pan-Atlantic context of the American transformations noted so far emerges very clearly in conceptual slippages between America and Africa during this period. A key case in point is the pombeiro trader in Kongo and Portuguese Angola. Derived from the term mpumbu, meaning market in Kikongo, pombeiro was a term used by Portuguese colonists in Angola, by the early 1600s, to refer to itinerant African agents who took goods on credit from coastal traders in order to then trade in inland fairs and return with enslaved persons to sell to slaving ships on the coast. However, as Metcalf and Montero note, by the early seventeenth century, the term was also in use in Brazil to describe slaves deployed as raiders. In one 1624 case, as Monteiro notes, a document refers to pombeiros attacking and enslaving Guaranís at the behest of Paulista bandeirantes.41

The way in which the African concept of pombeiro migrated from Kongo to Portuguese Angola and to Brazil makes it clear that by this time, ideas were being used in contexts very different from those where they originated. In Angola pombeiro referred to buying slaves, in Brazil it referred to slaves employed as raiders. At the same time, these transfers of ideas often referred to very similar processes. Indeed, the uses of pombeiros to capture slaves in Brazil were very similar to those in Angola at the same time. Metcalf describes “one entrada into the sertão [backlands] in the 1590s traded horses, guns, gunpowder, bullets, drums, and silk battle standards to Indians in return for slaves,” something which bears striking similarity to the pombeiros assembling coffles of slaves in Angola.42

These examples show the mobility of “travelling concepts” (much beloved by social scientists of the twenty-first century) at a much earlier time than previously recognized. Portuguese colonists internalized a category derived from Kikongo amid the violence of early slave raiding in Angola, and then slavers transferred it to Brazil along with the slaves the pombeiros produced. The pombeiro example shows the mobility of pan-Atlantic categories in the early Atlantic world as they switched from Africa to the Americas. What remains is to inquire as to how forms of coerced labor in the New World were transferred to Atlantic Africa

A beginning to an answer may lie in the microhistory of Manuel Alvarez Prieto. He was someone heavily involved in the complementing systems of enslavement—and their legal justifications—in both hemispheres of the Iberian world. He spent prolonged periods in various parts of Atlantic Africa—both Angola and the Guinea-Bissau region—as well as in what are now Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, and Puerto Rico in the New World. Numerous other inquisitorial cases from the period show that such pan-Atlantic trajectories were far from uncommon. With so many Atlantic traders circulating between the three continents, it becomes apparent that structures and legal frameworks developed in the New World might also have contributed to transformations of structures of dependence in Atlantic Africa; moreover, it was doubtless through such wandering traders—but also officials and missionaries and church officials—as Alvarez Prieto that concepts such as the pombeiro hitched their rides.

Angolan history shows how movements of personnel circulated Atlantic legal concepts. Jan Vansina’s classic work Kingdoms of the Savanna noted that one of the early governors of Luanda, Bento Banha Cardoso, had imposed the idea circa 1610 that every chief in Ndongo should be “given” to a Portuguese who would “rent” him from the government for a fixed annual sum and be entitled to whatever tribute—undoubtedly in slaves—he could get from his chief.43 Cardoso was an officer of the Spanish crown, then heir to the possessions of the Portuguese in Africa. His allocations of African authorities to Portuguese “rentiers” constituted a system termed baculamentos, which is widely noted in the first half of the seventeenth century for Angola as fundamental to administration of Iberian claims to territories in Angola and their residents. These “vassal tributes” were abolished by law only in 1650.44 The initial growth of the policy derived partly from the longstanding Portuguese concept of vassalagem (vassalage) and went with the expansion of militarized occupation around Luanda in the early seventeenth century. As Heintze notes, during Bento Banha Cardoso’s governorship (1611–1615), over 80 sobas (chiefs) were conquered and placed under tributary obligations of baculamento.

This derivation of the vassalage system in Angola from Iberian military conquest in the Americas shows an intersection of separate legal frameworks. While the framework of vassalagem mattered to the Portuguese, the adoption of the kimbundu term baculamento (from the Kimbundu, bakula, to “pay tribute”) also shows the attempt to integrate its Angolan tributaries within existing Mbundu frameworks of obligation. Thus, the baculamento suggests something quite similar to what Ferreira demonstrates in his work on the subsequent tribunal de mucanos. What emerges is that Portuguese conquest overlaid an Mbundu system of vassalage in a plural legal framework that spoke both to Iberian and Mbundu peoples. The vassal tributes, paid annually in slaves as specified by the treaties of vassalage, became key sources of the slave trade as it emerged in Angola.45 However, the new system of vassalage developed by the Portuguese in Angola would prove to be completely different and masked an accelerating exploitation within the clothes of the Kimbundu concept covering it.

The imposition of vassal tributes by Portuguese military conquest of Angola in the early seventeenth century suggests that this legal relationship may have been derived at least in part from the precedents of the encomienda system in the Americas. This period was after all the time of the joint Portuguese-Spanish monarchy, when such legal continuities, based on demonstrated precedent, could easily have been taken from the Spanish Americas to a formative Portuguese conquest in Angola, paralleling the lives of itinerant figures such as Manuel Alvarez Prieto. Indeed, the baculamento exhibits striking parallels with the encomienda system that illustrate the pan-Atlantic legal pluralism linking Africa and the Americas, covering and distorting indigenous legal systems on both continents.

Both drew on the shared Iberian legal heritage of vassalage to incorporate conquests overseas, in both Mexico and Angola. Zavala cites one document from four residents of Mexico City urging that encomienda grants incorporate Native Americans specifically as vassals, “because giving them as vassals, the Spaniards who have them will treat them like their own children.”46 Spanish authorities, as already noted, encouraged this system of vassalage so that the colonists would protect their vassals through existing Nahua frameworks of interdependence and labor mobilization, just as later treaties with the baculamento in Angola guaranteed. Furthermore, Iberian conquests both incorporated and transformed the existing frameworks of dependency in Mexico and Angola, so that the pre-existing macehuales and Africans subject to bakula obligation became persons who were legally distinct from the Atlantic category of slave, but in practice coerced like slaves to labor for their conquerors.

These parallels of conquest and vassalage are very clear and instructive in an official report from Angola in 1607, which informed in stark terms on the origins of the baculamento tributes: “I have been informed that Paulo Diaz de Novaes [the founder of Luanda in 1575, and commander of the Portuguese military campaigns in Angola] gave Sobas [chiefs] to the Portuguese who accompanied him … since he had no other means to pay them their salaries and give them provisions.”47 This arrangement was almost identical to the initial encomienda grants in New Spain in the 1520s, where loyal colonists were “given” native governors, who were expected to mobilize their followers to provide services.

The parallels in legal justification are also very close. Just as the theological buttress of the encomienda was the obligation of the encomendero to take responsibility for the spiritual salvation of “his” people, so too was conversion to Catholicism the basis of the sobas’ obligations as vassals. New sobas took an Mbundu oath of allegiance, known as the undamento, through which they pledged their allegiance to the king in Spain, after which, as Governor Fernão de Sousa confirmed in the late 1620s, “they were handed over to two [Jesuit] priests who go to catechize him and make him Christian.”48 Thus the moral justification underpinning the vassal tributes in both New Spain and Angola was that of Christian salvation; however, the centrality of a Mbundu ceremony of allegiance within this Christian framework was testament to the legal pluralism and appearance of continuity in these deep transformations.

How can we be sure that these vassal tributes incorporated more than the denomination of bakula, or that they constituted conceptual continuity with indigenous practices? One document from the 1620s is very clear on the reality of incorporation. Titled a “declaration of the tributes which are asked from the sobas,” it includes the following statement regarding the “loando”: it is “a tribute acknowledging vassalage, from a vassal to a master, that the sobas paid to the King of Angola [the African polity that the Portuguese regarded as being conquered] … and these tributes are the same as the baculamentos which are paid to the King Our Lord, so that no loandas can be asked from the sobas because they pay baculamentos.”49 A document of 1627 is even more specific, arguing that as the soba of Mbwila had “always” paid vassalage to the King of Angola, “and gave him bakula for the lands that he held in this Kingdom, with even more justice should he pay tribute to Your Majesty [the King of Portugal].”50

The close similarities between the legal framings of conquest in Angola and New Spain bear strong witness to a pan-Atlantic legal structure. On both sides of the Atlantic, this structure related to conquest and evangelization, but perverted to coerce native peoples’ labor included the appropriation of indigenous concepts and relations. As in New Spain, the consequences in Angola were stark; as in New Spain, indeed, a smallpox epidemic swept through the population in 1626, and as the Governor of Angola Fernão de Souza noted shortly afterwards (in a text which could have been found almost word for word seventy or eighty years earlier in New Spain), “the chiefs [sobas] are too seriously wounded, and it has become impossible for them to pay the tributes which have grown up since some are very poor, and they have lost many people through smallpox, and through the very serious molestations and vexations which they receive from the captains of the presídios [fortified military positions].”51

This discussion of legal pluralism in the Angolan context builds on the work about the pan-Atlantic cultures of slavery in the Iberian worlds advanced by Mariana Candido and Ferreira. The derivation of the baculamento from the encomienda suggests that it is important to consider the legal structures that framed slavery on both sides of the Iberian Atlantic. Beyond the parallel experiences on both sides of the Atlantic of both free and enslaved Africans, of warfare, conquest, and evangelization, and the shared experiences and conceptual frameworks of slave traders, fundamental to this legal process was the existence of shared financial interests that spanned the ocean. That debts often had to be called in from one side of the ocean to the other, meant that a shared and mutually acceptable legal framework was required. That such a pan-Atlantic legal structure of “property rights” went beyond Angola is suggested by the fact that by the 1640s, letters of manumission from Veracruz were accepted as legal in Cacheu.

Transfers of assets from one continent to another also emerged in wills and testaments. A good example is the will of the rich trader Diogo Ximenes Vargas, who died in Cabo Verde in 1623, leaving his estate to the Jesuits on the island—much to the irritation of his creditors. Having property in both Cartagena and Cabo Verde, it was necessary for his executors in Cabo Verde to write and ask that all the monies owed to Vargas in Cartagena be sent as swiftly as possible by his agent there, Duarte de Leão Marques.52 Moreover, it soon became apparent that Vargas owed debts to people residing in the Indies, and that many people there owed money to him.53 Indeed, often, when people died in the Guinea-Bissau region, they left widows residing in the Americas, leading to complex legal cases seeking to recover estates an ocean away.54

In short, financial interests linking Atlantic Africa—primarily Angola and the Guinea-Bissau region—with the Americas meant that courts on both sides of the ocean recognized pan-Atlantic legal instruments. In Atlantic Africa, this integrated legal framework came into contact with existing African legal frameworks related to political vassalage and created a plurality of jurisdictions that Africans living near Portugal’s trading posts would begin to navigate in shaping new viable identities. That the same conjuncture of law and conquest had already been in place for almost a century in various parts of the New World gave government officers, including judges, in Angola an immediate conceptual starting point in the era of Iberian Union, just as the experiences of Atlantic Africa in São Tomé had given Portuguese settlers in Brazil a conceptual starting point a century earlier. The overlapping frameworks of law, power, and finance shaped pan-Atlantic subjectivities long into the seventeenth century.

The Inquisition Trial of Crispina Peres and Legal Subjectivities in the Seventeenth Century

The overlapping legal jurisdictions and perceptions of power in Atlantic Africa ran through the fairly well known seventeenth-century Inquisition case of Crispina Peres, which Philip Havik wrote about extensively in his 2004 book.55 The text of this judicial proceeding—a thick processo—produces folio after folio detailing the strategic maneuverings of the parties to the suit between overlapping legal jurisdictions in the Guinea-Bissau region.

This suit was brought against Crispina Peres, one of the most important traders of the Portuguese trading port of Cacheu on the São Domingos river. Peres was the wife of Jorge Gonçalves Frances, the brother-in-law of the well-travelled Manuel Alvarez Prieto, whose Inquisition case in Cartagena has already been discussed in this article. Both Crispina Peres and Jorge Gonçalves Frances were members of the emerging kristón community of Cacheu, and had Portuguese fathers and Guinean mothers; in Peres’s case her mother was a Bainunk from the Bissau-Casamance borderlands. As powerful traders in Cacheu, Peres and Gonçalves Frances were the subject of personal enmities that led to denunciation of Peres to the Inquisition. Peres was seized in 1665 by inquisitorial authorities sent from the Cabo Verde islands and deported to Lisbon, where her case was finally concluded.

Peres’s exploitation of overlapping legal jurisdictions, Portuguese and Guinean, can be seen in the testimonies of the most important witness in the trial, Domingos de Areda, one of the slaves of Peres and Gonçalves Frances. Areda recounted at one point the story of Julia de Aguiar, who had been born in the trading port town of Gêba, quite a distance inland from the Atlantic Ocean near the present-day town of Bafatá. Gêba had long been a site for the emergence of the Kristón population, as Christoph Kohl’s recent work shows.56 Aguiar, a “black woman born in the town of Gêba [preta natural da povoação de Gêba]” had fled from the town some time before the trial of Peres. According to Areda, Aguiar had fled because of an accusation of witchcraft by the local population (gentios). In order to be able to leave for Cacheu, she had paid cloth money (40 strips of cotton cloth, or panos de algodon) to escape and been given a free passage to Cacheu.57

On the one hand, Aguiar had been born and raised in Gêba. Accused of witchcraft, she had sought to escape to Cacheu where she would be under a different legal jurisdiction that did not recognize witchcraft as a prosecutable offense, but a place where remote imperial frameworks such as inquisitorial law could be brought to bear. And yet, in order to reach this different jurisdiction, Aguiar had to recognize the authority she was fleeing, by paying a fine to the authorities in Gêba to secure safe passage. In other words, here is an example of someone managing to recognize both legal frameworks in order to escape one of them deploying her knowledge of the two for her own benefit.

An earlier inquisition trial from the same region, dating to the mid-1500s, against Antonio Fernandes, the factor of the trading settlement of Bugendo, suggests the ongoing relevance of these overlapping legal jurisdictions. At court, Fernandes claimed that on his arrival in Bugendo in 1547, the “Black elders [fidalgos] of the land had made a written petition to him.”58 This petition, appended to the inquisitorial record of Fernandes’ trial, provides remarkable evidence of the way that West African political authorities sought to reconcile their existing legal practices with those that Portuguese and Cabo Verdean traders brought with them.

These two cases show that the overlapping legal jurisdictions linking West African customary law and Portuguese legal practice were in place by the sixteenth century, and Atlantic African kings and peoples navigated between them to their best advantage. In the earlier case, the political leaders cited by Fernandes had sought to use Portuguese legal frameworks to seek military support; in the later Crispina Peres trial, Julia de Aguiar used the different legal frameworks as a strategy for finding protections in one from threats in the other. This political and strategic personal awareness of the plural legal domains clearly reflected the new subjectivities referred to by Nafafé, which the rise of port towns such as Cacheu and Gêba had produced.

On closer reading, the Crispina Peres trial illuminates the extent to which legal enforcement was a serious question in Cacheu. The Portuguese in this trading port often lacked the political power to enforce their claimed jurisdiction. As John Thornton noted long ago, the king of the Pepel owning the land surrounding the settlement would simply order his subjects to occupy the sources of its water supply every time he wanted to impose his will on the Luso-Africans and Cabo Verdeans trading there. Without political control, legal fiat is certainly hard to enforce. Law enforcement is an expression of political power, which is one reason why considering the legal pluralism of the early pan-Atlantic world is important.

With regard to Crispina Peres, the power to execute laws was no less relevant to her fate. Writing on April 29, 1665, the inquisitorial commissary, Luis de Chaves, sent to Cacheu from Cabo Verde, announced that he had managed to arrest Peres. However, he wrote that this was done “not only at the risk of my life, but at the risk of the lives of the whole town.”59 The difficulty was such that it “would have been easier to seize the Duke of Cadal, than take this woman.”60 Still, he carried out the arrest successfully, and the accused was deported to Santiago de Cabo Verde and thence to Lisbon in 1665. Her deportation was when matters got intense in Cacheu, or, as the priest André de Faro described it: “as the peoples [gentios] of the surrounding Kingdoms gathered in ever increasing numbers, to free Crispina Peres from imprisonment, and as her husband and brother, and a daughter of hers, had gone over to the land of the gentios, by the demand of this settlement the Commissary [of the Inquisition] was forced to leave in a Ship before the inventory of the goods of the accused had been completed.”61 Things were none the calmer outside of the pretended Portuguese jurisdiction in Cacheu; as Faro noted, “Sebastiāo, the African whose testimony has been noted down, is imprisoned in the land of the gentiles, by order of Crispina Peres’s brother, Saying that they will kill him since it is his fault that his sister has been seized.”62

Key features of plural legal jurisdictions emerge from this evidence. On the one hand, it is striking that the inquisitorial representatives sent from the Cape Verde islands had sufficient power in Cacheu to call witnesses and impel them to give testimony, as the large number of testimonies in the trial record attest. Portuguese legal authority and practice was clearly something that transcended, to some degree, distant colonial outposts, or else the inquisitor could not have called the trial. Moreover, this legal authority was buttressed to some degree by political power, inasmuch as the inquisitorial envoy Luis de Chaves was able to leave with Peres, even if he did so without much dignity.

At the same time, the haste with which Luis de Chaves had to flee with his prisoner, Peres, speaks volumes about the other local jurisdictions that he did not control. He left, without being able to complete his office, at the demand of the townspeople of Cacheu. The kristón of Cacheu, in turn, were clearly concerned at the rising anger of the peoples of the African communal jurisdictions around them, manifested in the large numbers who were gathering. The legal framework buttressing the political power of the kingdoms of Guiné is evident, given that Crispina Peres’s brother was clearly using these frameworks to detain one of the witnesses called for the inquisitorial case, probably exploiting the juridical standing of witchcraft in them; thus, though surrounding African authorities accepted aspects of Portuguese legal jurisdiction, their political power trumped the resources of the colonial framework.

The intersection of African political and legal jurisdiction and that of the weak Portuguese local authority was also clearly framed in the evidence of Crispina Peres’s slave, Sebastião Rodrigues Barassa. Barassa described how at one point he had tried to flee Cacheu out of fear of the kristón, since it was his evidence that had led to Crispina Peres being arrested by the Inquisition. He had tried to escape through the kingdom he called Cazil, where the king was his wife’s cousin; however he was arrested and thrown into irons by the king, who said that Barassa was in fact his wife’s slave.63

The power of indigenous legal frameworks in this African Atlantic setting is further confirmed by some of the testimony of Crispina Peres’s husband, Jorge Gonçalves Frances. He described at one point how, in 1646, he had gone to the Casamance power of Saral and found four members of the kriston Aredas family imprisoned there, as they had been for many years following the death of Domingos and Matheos de Aredas’s father, owing to presumed unpaid debts. Depending on the jurisdictional perspectives, they may have been hostages, pawns held for another’s debts, slaves, or unjustly detained subject of the Portuguese monarchy, or simultaneously all of these. Gonçalves Frances describes how he had to visit the port four times and write numerous letters and petitions to the King of Casamance before they were released, which is again testament to the power of the indigenous legal concepts of debt and inheritance, within the slowly gathering wealth and power of Atlantic traders in the region.64

At the core of this overlapping political and legal framework were its religious expressions. As noted, the sixteenth century saw the rise of the kristón community, whose name proclaimed the Christian core of the collective identity of this new class, embodiments of the new subjectivities referred to by Nafafé. It is in this Christian context that the legal sway of the inquisitorial envoys should be seen—as envoys of the church behind the local communion of increasing importance in kristón identity.

At the same time, kristón Catholicism was itself plural, incorporating elements from the adjacent African communities, in keeping with the plural legal and political frameworks that they inhabited. The African elements were in fact the core of the Inquisition case against Peres, who was accused of fetishism and witchcraft, both condemned as sins against Catholic practice. Many witnesses noted how Peres had participated in sacrifices of animals on the decks of ships prior to their sailing and how nominally “Christian” women in the vila quente (popular neighborhood) of Cacheu frequently also worshipped at Guinean religious shrines known as chinas.65 Peres understood how these practices were core parts of plural religious practices in her home environment. Once in Lisbon, when asked by the inquisitors how she could perform these ceremonies and yet believe in the Catholic God, Peres replied that she did not understand these things to be a fault in her land, but that if she had been in Portugal she would have held them to be such.66

Atlantic legal, financial, and political pluralism was reflected through the prominently religious identities of both Iberians and Africans in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. These plural forms of religious practice are well-known when it comes to the study of early Creole communities in West and West-Central Africa. However, it was a pluralism that was also grounded in a plural legal framework, in keeping with the overlapping legal and political jurisdictions that were vital in the making of these Atlantic communities and identities in precolonial Africa.

Conclusion

The argument of this article raises more questions than it answers. It is intended as a starting point for exploring the multiple dimensions of the pluralism that pervaded the first phases of Atlantic exchanges in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, with examples largely from the African communities who lived in them. It also suggests commonalities of experience and subjectivities or subjecthoods on both sides of the Atlantic, where indigenous communities experienced the violence of Iberian colonialism.

In contexts of weak Iberian political power, such as the Guinea-Bissau region, the hold of indigenous legal authorities—such as the King of Saral petitioned by Jorge Gonçalves Frances—was strong. But where this indigenous political power was eroded, such as in Angola in the seventeenth century, Iberian military power and legal structures transformed indigenous institutions to serve slave traders’ interests in the production of captives. Over time, where African political power remained strong—as in most of the continent outside Angola—kings and their agents stood back from Iberian legal structures creating plural legal frameworks and flexible identities that local figures, like Crispina Peres’ slave, Julia de Aguiar, manipulated to their personal gain.

These transformations in Africa occurred within a broader Atlantic framework influenced by analogous earlier events in the Americas. Institutions of vassalage in Angola were influenced both by the existing Portuguese concept and by the encomienda; Iberian colonists co-opted the indigenous concept of bakula in the context of conquest and evangelization, and transformed it brutally. Meanwhile, in the Americas, Portuguese experiences in Africa in the fifteenth century, and also the early presence of enslaved African persons in the New World, influenced perceptions of slavery and ways of recruiting Native American labor.

Scholars of colonial Latin America have noted the ways in which enslaved Africans deployed colonial legal concepts to contest arbitrary colonial power. This article sets that legal adaptability in the context of a similar awareness of plural legal frameworks in Atlantic Africa. Strategic deployments of plural legal frameworks seems to have emerged first in African contexts, then to be taken by enslaved persons to the New World. While scholars have explored African pluralisms in the Atlantic world through the lens of religious practices, this article reveals the legal frameworks framing these cultural processes. Although scholarship on precolonial African law is painfully thin, this article also shows how it influenced European interactions there in reciprocal patterns dating back to first contacts.

For modern African history, law has been shown by a variety of scholars to be central in understanding the transformations wrought by colonialism. The composite frameworks of power, resistance and incorporation of outside concepts into local legal structures for strategic advantage were tactics that many African peoples had long deployed during the era of the Atlantic slave trade, the era of what might be called proto-colonialism, long prior to the formal adoption of aspects of the European law in the continent under formal colonialism.

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*

The author would like to thank António de Almeida Mendes, Roquinaldo Ferreira, Joseph C. Miller, Tatiana Seijas, and three anonymous reviewers, whose comments have all helped enormously in refining this paper.

1

Archivo Histórico Nacional, Madrid (AHN), Inquisición 1620, Expediente 15, folios 55v–56v. For a more detailed account of the life history of Gonçalves Frances, see Toby Green, “Pluralism, Violence and Empire: The Portuguese New Christians in the Atlantic World,” in Francisco Bethencourt, ed., Cosmopolitanism in the Portuguese-speaking World (Leiden: Brill, 2017).

2

Lisa A. Lindsay and John W. Sweet, eds., Biography and the Black Atlantic (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013).

3

Roquinaldo Ferreira, Cross-Cultural Exchange in the Atlantic World: Angola and Brazil in the Era of the Slave Trade (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012); Toby Green, “Beyond an Imperial Atlantic: Trajectories of Africans from Upper Guinea and West-Central Africa in the Early Atlantic World,” Past and Present 230, no. 1 (2016): 91–122.

4

On the connected networks linking Africa and the Americas, see, for instance, David Wheat, Atlantic Africa and the Spanish Caribbean, 1570–1640 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press/ Omohundro Institute, 2016).

5

AHN Inquisición Legajo 1608, Expediente 27 fols. 7v–16r, 31v–32r, 33r–35v—the case of Juan Rodriguez Mesa.

6

José Lingna Nafafé, Colonial Encounters: Issues of Culture, Hybridity and Creolisation (Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 2007), 2.

7

Lauren Benton, Law and Colonial Cultures: Legal Regimes in World History, 1400–1900 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 38.

8

Ibid., 51–55.

9

Herman L. Bennett, Africans in Colonial Mexico: Absolutism, Christianity and Afro-Creole Consciousness, 1570–1640 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2002); idem., Colonial Blackness: A History of Afro-Mexico (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2009).

10

James H. Sweet, Recreating Africa: Culture, Kinship and Religion in the African-Portuguese World (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003).

11

For an analysis of the way in which enslaved Africans deployed their understanding of colonial legal categories to shape identities and claim rights, see especially Bennett, Africans in Colonial Mexico; Rachel S. O’Toole, Bound Lives: Africans, Indians, and the Making of Race in Colonial Peru (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2012), 35–63.

12

Benton, Law and Colonial Cultures.

13

Emily S. Burrill, Richard L. Roberts, and Elizabeth Thornberry, eds., Domestic Violence and the Law in Colonial and Postcolonial Violence (Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2010); Peter Ntephe, “Does Africa Need Another Kind of Law? Alterity and the Rule of Law in Subsaharan Africa” (PhD dissertation, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, 2012); G.H. Karekwaivanane, Legal Encounters: Law, State and Society in Zimbabwe, 1950–2008 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017); Bala K. Saho, Contours of Change: Muslim Courts, Women, and Islamic Society in Colonial Bathurst, The Gambia, 1900–1960 (East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, forthcoming).

14

Ferreira, Cross-Cultural Exchange in the Atlantic World, 13–14.

15

Sanjay Subrahmanyam, “Holding the World in Balance: The Connected Histories of the Iberian Overseas Empires, 1500–1640,” American Historical Review 112, no. 1 (2007): 1373.

16

Wheat, Atlantic Africa and the Spanish Caribbean, 73.

17

For recent work on the connected histories of Iberian colonialism in the Americas and the Philippines, see Tatiana Seijas, Asian Slaves in Colonial Mexico: From Chinos to Indians (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014).

18

Fernando Santos Granero, Vital Enemies: Slavery, Predation and the Amerindian Political Economy of Life (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2009), 7.

19

Kathleen Deagan, “Reconsidering Taíno Social Dynamics After Spanish Conquest: Gender and Class in Contact Studies,” American Antiquity, 69, no. 4 (2004): 597–626.

20

On these overlapping views of African and Native American labour, see O’Toole, Bound Lives, 17–19, 27; see also Kris Lane, “The Transition From Encomienda to Slavery in Seventeenth-Century Barbacoas (Colombia),” Slavery & Abolition 21, no. 1 (2000): 83.

21

Subrahmanyam, “Holding the World,” 1371.

22

Silvio Zavala, El Servicio Personal de los Índios en la Nueva España, Vol. 1, 1521–1550 (Mexico City: El Colégio de México, 1984), 511–514. See also Lockhart, James, The Nahuas After the Conquest: A Social and Cultural History of the Indians of Central Mexico, Sixteenth Through Eighteenth Centuries (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1992), 60, 110, for a discussion of the substantial number of slaves in pre-contact central Mexico.

23

Lockhart, The Nahuas After the Conquest, 28–29.

24

Silvio Zavala, Tributos y servicios personales de indios para Hernán Cortés y su familia (extractos de documentos del siglo XVI) (México: Archivo General de la Nación, 1984), 10.

25

Ibid., 111–112.

26

Timothy J. Yeager, “Encomienda or Slavery? The Spanish Crown’s Choice of Labor Organization in 16th-Century Spanish America,” The Journal of Economic History 55, no. 4 (1995): 842–859.

27

Ibid., 122.

28

Ibid., 20.

29

Lockhart, The Nahuas After the Conquest, 508 n. 80.

30

Silvio Zavala, La encomienda indiana (México: Editorial Porrúa, 1973), 45.

31

Kris Lane, “Transition.”

32

Alida C. Metcalf, Go-Betweens and the Colonization of Brazil, 1500–1600 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2005), 159.

33

A.C. de C.M. Saunders, “The Depiction of Trade as War as a Reflection of Portuguese Ideology and Diplomatic Strategy in West Africa, 1441–1556,” Canadian Journal of History 17, no. 2 (1982): 219–234; Kenneth Baxter Wolf, “The ‘Moors’ of West Africa and the Beginnings of the Portuguese Slave Trade,” Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies 24 (3) (1994): 468; Debra Blumenthal, Enemies and Familiars: Slavery and Mastery in Fifteenth-Century Valencia (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2009), 41.

34

Archivo General de las Indias, Seville, Indiferente 2795.

35

Arquivo da Santa Casa da Misericordia, Salvador, Maço 41, Livro do Tombo (2), fol. 315r.

36

John Manuel Monteiro, Negros da terra: Índios e bandeirantes nas origens de São Paulo (São Paulo: Editora Schwartz Ltda., 1994), 28.

37

José Eisenberg, “A Escravidão Voluntária dos Índios do Brasil e o Pesnamento Político Moderno,” Análise Social 39, no. 170 (2004): 12.

38

Monteiro, Negros da Terra, 130.

39

Afonso de E. Taunay, Historia Geral das Bandeiras Paulistas (São Paulo: Typ Ideal H.L. Canton, 1924), 2, 93.

40

Juliana Brainer Barroso Neves, “Colonização e Resistência no Paraguaçu—Bahia, 1530–1678,” MA thesis (Salvador: Universidade Federal da Bahia, 2008), 46–48.

41

Monteiro, Negros da Terra, 66; Metcalf, Go-Betweens, 313 n. 33; Joao Fragoso and Ana Rios, “Slavery and Politics in Colonial Portuguese America: The Sixteenth to the Eighteenth Centuries,” in David Eltis and Stanley L. Engerman, eds., The Cambridge World History of Slavery. Vol. III: AD 1420–AD 1804 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 350–377.

42

Ibid., 192.

43

Jan Vansina, Kingdoms of the Savanna (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1966), 128.

44

Beatrix Heintze, “The Angolan Vassal Tributes of the 17th Century,” Revista de História Económica e Social 6 (1980): 71.

45

Flávia Maria de Carvalho, Sobas e homens do rei—relações de poder e escravidão em Angola (séculos XVII e XVIII) (Maceií: Edufal—Editora da Universidade Federal de Alagoas, 2015).

46

Zavala, La encomienda indiana, 50: “porque dándose [los índios] así por vasallos, los españoles que los tuviesen los tratarán como a sus propios hijos.”

47

Arquivo Histórico Ultramarino (hereafter AHU), Conselho Ultramarino (hereafter CU), Angola Caixa 1, doc 3ª: “Segundo sou informado Paulos Diaz de Novaes dava Sovas aos portugueses q com elle andavão pa delles cobrarem e não cobrarão pa sy os tributos que pagavão ao el Rey de Angola por não er outro Remedio delle paguar seus soldos e mantimentos …

48

Beatrix Heintze, Fontes para a história de Angola de século XVII, I, Mémorias, relações e outros manuscritos da colectânea documental de Fernão de Sousa, 1622–1635, Vol. 1 (Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag Wiesbaden GMBH, 1985), 204: “e undado o entregaraó aos dous padres da Caompanhia que vaõ para o catequizarem e fazerem cristão.” On the undar, ibid., 280–281.

49

Ibid., 279: “Loando he tribute em reconhecimento de vassalagē, de vassalo pera senhor, que os sovas pagavào El Rei de Angola … e a este tributo respondē os baculamentos que pagaõ a El Rei nosso senhor pelo que se não pode pedir loanda aos sovas porque pagaõ baculamento.”

50

Ibid., Vol. II (1988), 183–184: “e pois Boilla o fara d’El Rei de Angola, e sempre lhe baculara po las terras que possue deste Reyno, cõ mais justo titulo o devia fazer a Vossa Magestade.”

51

Ibid., 1: 377–378. The smallpox in New Spain may have been transferred from Angola; see Joseph C. Miller, “The Significance of Drought, Disease, and Famine in the Agriculturally Marginal Zones of West-Central Africa,” Journal of African History, 23, no. 1 (1982): 17–61.

52

Instituto dos Arquivos Nacionais da Torre do Tombo, Lisbon (hereafter IAN/TT), Cartório dos Jesuitas, Maço 37, doc 21, fol. 1v.

53

Ibid., doc. 22, fols. 1rv; doc. 29, fol. 1r.

54

See, for example, the case of Pero Rodrigues, who died in Gêba (Guinea-Bissau) in 1641—AHU, CU, Guiné, Caixa 1, doc. 45.

55

Philip J. Havik, Silences and Soundbytes: The Gendered Dynamics of Trade and Brokerage in the Pre-Colonial Guinea-Bissau Region (Munster: Lit Verlag, 2004). Together with Philip Havik and Filipa Ribeiro da Silva, I am currently working on a transcription and translation of the trial that will eventually appear in the Fonte Africanae series of the British Academy.

56

Christoph Kohl, Creole Identity and National Integration in Guinea-Bissau (New York: Berghahn Books, forthcoming).

57

IAN/TT, Inquisição de Lisboa, Processo 2075, fol. 28r.

58

IAN/TT, Inquisição de Lisboa, Processo 801; cit. Toby Green, The Rise of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade in Western Africa, 1300–1589 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012), 153.

59

IAN/TT, Inquisição de Lisboa, Processo 2075, fol. 45r.

60

Ibid.

61

Ibid., fol. 61v.

62

Ibid., 62r: “testemunha apontada esta prezo, em terra do gentio, por ordem do irmāo de Chrispina peres Dizendo que o Ande matar porq’ elle fora cauza de se prender sua irmā.”

63

Ibid., fol. 117r. The reliability of this evidence is weak, since Barassa was routinely described as a drunkard by other witnesses; nevertheless, the broader context and structure described by him is probably accurate.

64

Ibid., fols. 122rv.

65

Ibid., fols. 13r; 36v.

66

Ibid., fol. 163v.

  • 2

    Lisa A. Lindsay and John W. Sweet, eds., Biography and the Black Atlantic (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013).

  • 3

    Roquinaldo Ferreira, Cross-Cultural Exchange in the Atlantic World: Angola and Brazil in the Era of the Slave Trade (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012); Toby Green, “Beyond an Imperial Atlantic: Trajectories of Africans from Upper Guinea and West-Central Africa in the Early Atlantic World,” Past and Present 230, no. 1 (2016): 91–122.

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  • 6

    José Lingna Nafafé, Colonial Encounters: Issues of Culture, Hybridity and Creolisation (Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 2007), 2.

  • 7

    Lauren Benton, Law and Colonial Cultures: Legal Regimes in World History, 1400–1900 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 38.

  • 8

    Ibid., 51–55.

  • 9

    Herman L. Bennett, Africans in Colonial Mexico: Absolutism, Christianity and Afro-Creole Consciousness, 1570–1640 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2002); idem., Colonial Blackness: A History of Afro-Mexico (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2009).

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  • 10

    James H. Sweet, Recreating Africa: Culture, Kinship and Religion in the African-Portuguese World (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003).

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  • 14

    Ferreira, Cross-Cultural Exchange in the Atlantic World, 13–14.

  • 15

    Sanjay Subrahmanyam, “Holding the World in Balance: The Connected Histories of the Iberian Overseas Empires, 1500–1640,” American Historical Review 112, no. 1 (2007): 1373.

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  • 16

    Wheat, Atlantic Africa and the Spanish Caribbean, 73.

  • 18

    Fernando Santos Granero, Vital Enemies: Slavery, Predation and the Amerindian Political Economy of Life (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2009), 7.

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  • 19

    Kathleen Deagan, “Reconsidering Taíno Social Dynamics After Spanish Conquest: Gender and Class in Contact Studies,” American Antiquity, 69, no. 4 (2004): 597–626.

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  • 21

    Subrahmanyam, “Holding the World,” 1371.

  • 22

    Silvio Zavala, El Servicio Personal de los Índios en la Nueva España, Vol. 1, 1521–1550 (Mexico City: El Colégio de México, 1984), 511–514. See also Lockhart, James, The Nahuas After the Conquest: A Social and Cultural History of the Indians of Central Mexico, Sixteenth Through Eighteenth Centuries (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1992), 60, 110, for a discussion of the substantial number of slaves in pre-contact central Mexico.

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  • 23

    Lockhart, The Nahuas After the Conquest, 28–29.

  • 25

    Ibid., 111–112.

  • 27

    Ibid., 122.

  • 28

    Ibid., 20.

  • 30

    Silvio Zavala, La encomienda indiana (México: Editorial Porrúa, 1973), 45.

  • 32

    Alida C. Metcalf, Go-Betweens and the Colonization of Brazil, 1500–1600 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2005), 159.

  • 33

    A.C. de C.M. Saunders, “The Depiction of Trade as War as a Reflection of Portuguese Ideology and Diplomatic Strategy in West Africa, 1441–1556,” Canadian Journal of History 17, no. 2 (1982): 219–234; Kenneth Baxter Wolf, “The ‘Moors’ of West Africa and the Beginnings of the Portuguese Slave Trade,” Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies 24 (3) (1994): 468; Debra Blumenthal, Enemies and Familiars: Slavery and Mastery in Fifteenth-Century Valencia (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2009), 41.

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  • 36

    John Manuel Monteiro, Negros da terra: Índios e bandeirantes nas origens de São Paulo (São Paulo: Editora Schwartz Ltda., 1994), 28.

  • 37

    José Eisenberg, “A Escravidão Voluntária dos Índios do Brasil e o Pesnamento Político Moderno,” Análise Social 39, no. 170 (2004): 12.

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  • 38

    Monteiro, Negros da Terra, 130.

  • 39

    Afonso de E. Taunay, Historia Geral das Bandeiras Paulistas (São Paulo: Typ Ideal H.L. Canton, 1924), 2, 93.

  • 41

    Monteiro, Negros da Terra, 66; Metcalf, Go-Betweens, 313 n. 33; Joao Fragoso and Ana Rios, “Slavery and Politics in Colonial Portuguese America: The Sixteenth to the Eighteenth Centuries,” in David Eltis and Stanley L. Engerman, eds., The Cambridge World History of Slavery. Vol. III: AD 1420–AD 1804 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 350–377.

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  • 42

    Ibid., 192.

  • 43

    Jan Vansina, Kingdoms of the Savanna (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1966), 128.

  • 44

    Beatrix Heintze, “The Angolan Vassal Tributes of the 17th Century,” Revista de História Económica e Social 6 (1980): 71.

  • 55

    Philip J. Havik, Silences and Soundbytes: The Gendered Dynamics of Trade and Brokerage in the Pre-Colonial Guinea-Bissau Region (Munster: Lit Verlag, 2004). Together with Philip Havik and Filipa Ribeiro da Silva, I am currently working on a transcription and translation of the trial that will eventually appear in the Fonte Africanae series of the British Academy.

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