Slavery and Imperialism


Slavery was and still today remains an institution and a global system, albeit under disguised forms, of the first importance. Seen in historical perspective, it was a part of the western imperialism since the discovery of the “new World” and its rise and development till now. In other word, Slavery seems to be unthinkable without imperialism and conversely, the history of imperialism that shaped the modern world order had largely contributed to the rise and the development of the slavery system since the sixteenth century. Albeit this is not the appropriate place to deal with this topic, we can say without making a mistake, that capitalism also like slavery is unthinkable without imperialism that contributed to its rise and its development.

So, the history of slavery beginning with imperialism could not be separate from the history of western imperialism or more precisely of western imperialism rivalries both inside and outside the European continent. The history of western imperialism and therefore the history of European imperialist rivalries in and outside Europe began in the late of the fifteenth century with the famous treaty of Tordisillas which can be considered as the first treaty dividing the world between the two main powers at that time, Portugal and Spain. Thanks to this division, Spain had the first and vast empire ruled by the Spanish king Charles V with had far-flung possessions from Spain to the Andes from Austria to Peru from Lombardy to the Philippines from the Low Countries to Mexico (New Spain. In order to rule at distance through a huge royal bureaucracy and armies their “universal monarchy” and to defend it agaisnt their domestic and foreign enemies, Hapsburgs monarchs counted drawing their source of power, that is, the silver and the golf by exploiting their vast empire in New World colonies.

The first captive African slave had been  in the New world by Portuguese traders who sold them to Spanish colonists. Captive Africans were supplied in order to replace Indigenous slaves on plantation and in the silver mines in the Spanish Caribbean. From the 1520s the Spanish royal authorities authorized the introduction of African slaves into the Spanish colonies in Latin America to supply the deficiency of Indian slavery in the New world. Habsburgs Empire headed by the Spanish king Charles V.