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Economic Pattern Of Boom & Bust In Slave Trade Of Portuguese Empire

1345 words - 6 pages


Topic: Economic Pattern of Boom & Bust in Slave Trade of Portuguese Empire

The slave trade of the Portuguese Empire involved “bringing European ships for the first time into regular contact with sub-Saharan Africa”. Otherwise, the Arab slave trade according to Peterson, involved “Arabs exporting slaves from East Africa to many countries around the Indian Ocean” (Peterson, Brian 2008). There are certain commonalities in these trades, but they still differ significantly. That is, though both were superlative ...view middle of the document...

During the fifteenth century is when the Portuguese slave trade saw its first real sign of growth. Gascoigne states that, “In 1466 they are given an economic advantage which guarantees their prosperity” (Gascoigne, 2008). The advantage being referred to is the control of the slave trade. As expected with any relatively new industry, the beginning years became a transitional period as there was notable expansion in the Portuguese slave trade enterprise. During the first few years of the Portuguese slave trade, it is mathematically estimated (according to the table below) that around 1620 slaves were involved. This number is slightly less than that of the initial stages of the Arab slave trade which evidences some disparity in these two empire trades. “Morice suggested that at least 2000 slaves were involved in the Arab slave trade each year around this time” (Sherrad, 2004). Therefore, the first differentiation in the economic pattern of performance can be observed as the Portuguese slave trade did not yield as fruitful of results as the Arab slave trade. This provides the basis for suggestion that perhaps the quick rise of the Arab slave trade affected its longevity; colloquially expressed as ‘it left just as quickly as it came’. That is, because it grew so quickly, it was not sustained as long as the Portuguese slave trade.

|Period |# of Slaves Accounted For |
|1450-1500 |81000 |
|1500-1600 |328,000 |
|1601-1700 |1,348,000 |
|1701-1800 |6,090,000 |
|1801-1900 |3,466,000 |
|Total |11,232,000 |

# of Slaves Involved in Portuguese Slave Trade

In analyzing the table above, the pinnacle of the slave trade in the Portuguese Empire occurred in the eighteenth century. It should be noted that this was also a period of boom in the Arab slave trade. Thus, this suggests that these two trades may have been inter-related. Indeed, the Arab slave trade was aided greatly by the Portuguese. One of the main contributing factors to this boom (Arab slave trade) was the destruction of the coast of Swahili. According to Shahada, “The Portuguese had destroyed the Swahili coast and Zanzibar emerged as the hub of wealth...

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