Anonymous asked in Arts & HumanitiesHistory · 2 years ago

Were there slavery of blacks in Europe like the U.S. during slavery time and was it brutal like America?

9 Answers

  • John
    Lv 5
    2 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    Slave trading in Europe restarted in 16th century. It had never been made illegal in most countries, but had effectively died out.

    In 16th Century European traders started venturing down the West Coast of Africa, looking for anyone to trade with, the idea being to sell their own goods, in exchange for local 'exotic' goods like spices, jewels gold, silver etc. All they found was slaves being offered.

    So they bought them and took them across the Atlantic, at this early stage usually South America or the West Indies.

    Myth, slaves are cheap to keep. The cheap part is buying them, then comes the expensive bit, feeding, clothing and housing.

    Slaves in the Americas were used on plantations, they only needed to be strong and able, no education required. They were of little use in Europe.

    Myth, in 16th Century and until late 19th Century few could read or write.

    In his book Magna Carta, 1215, Geoffrey Hindley (he has a Phd in Medieval History) estimates that about 1/5th of the English could read, so 20% and that 1 in 100 could write, even if this is high, certainly by 1500s this figure is near correct.

    In England farm workers would have a deep knowledge of crops, soil etc, African slaves with possibly little farming experience, were of no use.

    Also in England workers could be laid off, at that point they fed, clothed and housed themselves at no cost to their previous employer, slaves still need feeding, clothing, housing.

    By the 18th century, being able to read and do simple arithmetic was starting to be essential, for employment and better paid jobs. Plus if you employed someone who could read, their family were there as cheap labour, that could be laid off along with you if trade turned down, Slaves were illiterate, and still had to be clothed housed and fed, they were too expensive?

    Blacks who did come to England, were usually a novelty, and if they had their wits about them could do quite well. Joseph Addison a writer in 18th century, tells the story of a 'Cabinet maker' he is famous for going to the theatre and banging his stick for approval or disapproval of the actors. He was quite respectable, not short of money, and Addison just tells the story of a character worth mentioning because of his making this commotion when at the theatre. You would not be aware the chap was black, except for one point when Addison says if you wish to find this chap to have a piece of furniture made, he is the coloured guy on this particular street?

    A bloke called Olaudah Equiano (he was known as Gustavus Vassa) wrote his autobiography, which was a best seller in 1790s amid a flurry of controversy that he hadn't been born in Africa but in the West Indies?

  • 2 years ago


  • 2 years ago

    Europe imported large numbers of slaves into their colonies in the west indies - i think the british bought the second largest number of slaves to work on their sugar plantations. Portugal bought the largest number to go to Brazil (i understand brazil has the second largest population of African descent of any country in the world, only Nigeria has more). the French had colonies as well, and fhe Dutch. And the west indian colonies were often very brutal. i don't think there were a very large number of black slaves actually in europe though. Some people did have black slaves - for instance, it was fqshionable in the 17th and 18th centuries for ladies to have black page boy, he was a sort of fashion accesory. But slaves were not used in massive numbers to perform labour like they were in the colonies, those sort of jobs were generally done in europe by poor white people.

  • Tina
    Lv 7
    2 years ago

    Yes, there were certainly African slaves in Italy for instance (and Italian slaves in Africa) no, they weren't treated as badly. The children of slaves were brought up with the families their parents belonged to, and very little difference was made between them. Alessandro de Medici, Duke of Florence, was nicknamed 'Il Moro' because of his African features - his mother was believed to have been of African descent.

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  • Alesha
    Lv 7
    2 years ago

    Up until the 1830's there was no reason for slavery, the nobility controlled most of the land and the peasants/serfs worked it virtually under slave conditions.

  • Anonymous
    2 years ago

    Yes, African slaves were brought to Europe, especially countries involved in the slave trade (although not exclusively, the Russian writer Pushkin was the descendant of a slave who had been given to Peter the Great and who eventually rose to become a General and a nobleman). African slavery was never widespread in Europe, however, because most of these European countries had a surplus of labor, so they never had to resort to large scale slavery.

  • 2 years ago

    Yes, especially in England where they also enslaved the Irish and were brutal towards them.

  • 2 years ago

    Slavery has always existed and like all history is really complicated.

    It varied from place to place. The French were the first to ban it during the Revolution, but they started it again some years later under Napoleon. From about 1800 on the British made it illegal to buy and sell slaves. By 1838 they had made it illegal to have slaves and the Royal Navy used to patrol the Atlantic Ocean to stop slave ships.

    The African slave trade began soon after 600 AD when someone found a way across the Sahara and hundreds of thousands of African slaves were taken to places like Algiers and Tripoli over a thousand years. Timbuktu was a big slave market. By the time the Europeans started sailing down the west African coast and across the Atlantic to North, Central and South America the slave trade was already big.

    The north coast of Africa was called the Barbary coast and slavers from there used to take slaves from everywhere from Iceland through Denmark, Ireland, England, France, Spain and as far east as Greece between 1500 and 1800. It was so bad that nobody wanted to live on the coast of Spain. Several hundred American sailors and passengers were captured and enslaved around Tripoli, which led to the US Marines raiding Tripoli. The British and French navies sometimes bombarded the towns and eventually the French took over Algeria in part to stop the slave trade there.

    Slavers also used to take slaves from eastern Africa through to Zanzibar. or across the Red Sea. The last of the Red Sea slave crossings by slaves seems to have happened about 1960.

  • Anonymous
    2 years ago

    no not nearly as bad, in fact the british were the first to stop slavery

    • Lv 4
      2 years agoReport

      Most slaves under the Crown were whites, mostly Irish slaves, and also Welsh and Scots.

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