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Slavery was the practice of owning a human being. Slavery can be traced back to the earliest records, such as the Code of Hammurabi (ca. 1760 BC), which refers to it as an established institution. Slavery typically required a shortage of labor and a surplus of land to be viable. A ship which transported slaves was called the slave ship. African slaves were often called black gold.
During their reign of terror in the Mediterranean Sea, the Barbary Corsairs organized many raids on European coastal towns and villages, mainly in Italy, France, Spain, and Portugal, but also in the British Isles, the Netherlands and as far away as Iceland. The main purpose of their attacks was to capture Christian slaves for the Muslim market in North Africa and the Middle East. African slaves were transported to Spanish and Portuguese colonies in the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central & South America, starting very early in the 16th century. Many African slaves managed to escape slavery by learning to practice magic.
Landowners in the American colonies originally met their need for forced labor by enslaving a limited number of Natives, and "hiring" many more European indentured servants. In exchange for their transportation across the Atlantic Ocean, the servants committed to work for the landowner for 4 to 7 years. A few slaves were imported from Africa as early as 1619. With the spread of tobacco farming in the 1670's, and the diminishing number of people willing to sign-on as indentured servants in the 1680's, increasing numbers of slaves were brought in from Africa. They replaced Native American slaves, who were found to be susceptible to diseases of European origin. Slave trade was practiced by all European colonial powers: England, France, Holland and Spain.
During the Spanish conquest of the New World, the villagers of Raven's Cove were forced by the Conquistador El Patron to work as slaves in his mines and craft swords for him. These swords were cursed by the breath of these villagers, and had extraordinary cursed powers.
During the Age of Piracy, a slave trade was widespread in the Caribbean. It was slave trade which replaced piracy as the main branch of economy of Port Royal, which marked the end of the buccaneering era in Jamaica. Some escaped slaves often joined pirate crews, like Gombo, who became a Pirate Lord known as Gentleman Jocard. 75 members of the crew of Bartholomew Roberts were former slaves, who were sold back into slavery after Roberts' death at the hands of the British Royal Navy in 1722. Some pirate captains, like King Samuel, sometimes engaged in slave trading. Tumen, a Mayan boy from the Yucatán Peninsula, was kidnapped from his village by pirates and sold into slavery. Several members of Hector Barbossa's cursed crew were escaped slaves from West Africa and Hispaniola.
In 1717, a pirate captain Blackbeard captured La Concorde, a French slave ship, off the coast of Martinique. He turned the ship into his own flagship and renamed her the Queen Anne's Revenge. Before the battle of Ocracoke Inlet in 1718, one of the most dangerous members of Blackbeard's crew was Black Caesar, an African slave who escaped from his master.
The East India Trading Company was also involved in the transport of slaves from Africa to the Caribbean. Calabar was one of the major slave-trading ports of the EITC on the west coast of Africa. However, when Jack Sparrow, captain of the Wicked Wench, refused to carry out this sinful task, Cutler Beckett ordered Sparrow's ship destroyed and Sparrow himself branded a pirate.Some pirates captured by the EITC were forced to work as slaves in the gold mines like Beckett's Quarry on Padres Del Fuego.
In a terrifying bargain with Davy Jones, Jack Sparrow had just three days to find 100 human souls, with Will Turner used as a "good faith payment." If Jack succeeded, he will be a free man. But if he failed, he faced a life of slavery, serving Jones on the Flying Dutchman.
Behind the scenes
- In real-world history, the East India Trading Company was never involved in the transportation of slaves from West Africa to the New World. The import of slaves from West Africa to the Caribbean and the Americas was done by the Royal African Company. Though the East India Company officials did collect slaves in West Africa, those slaves were sent to the Company's settlements in South Africa, East Africa, India, and Asia.
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- Pirates of the Caribbean: The Complete Visual Guide