Atlantic Plantation Complex Essay

1444 Words 6 Pages
Topic: Did the Atlantic plantation complex create slavery, or was it the other way around?

The Atlantic plantation complex was crucial to the Americas’ inclusion in the international economy. Slavery was a key component to the success of the New World, as it laid the basis for market trade between the New World and the rest of the globe. The existence of slavery throughout centuries prior to the growth of the Atlantic plantation complex was distinct to the use of slavery in the New World, the innovation of slavery on the plantations in the Americas reformed worldwide concepts of slavery throughout history. European demand for sugar from sugar plantations, and the difficulty of sugarcane cultivation was a major element of European sugar plantation
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Slavery was not a new idea with the introduction of the New World and Atlantic plantations into the international economy. Prior to the establishment of the Atlantic plantation complex in the 15th century, it was rare for slaves to be used in agriculture. Slaves in the Mediterranean were often used for ransom rather than for labour, as during the Crusades, both Christians and Muslims enslaved captured passengers and crews of ships or soldiers from war, however, when used for labour, slaves were usually used for domestic purposes. Slavery had also existed for centuries on the African continent before the Atlantic Slave Trade. Trade between Africa and China included the exports of gold, ivory and slaves to China from 1000C.E., along with the use of slaves within the African continent. African slaves within Africa remained in their native region and were not always used for productive tasks; African slaves sometimes were personal slaves to leaders in their own tribe. The Ottoman Empire, established late in the 13th century, also employed the use of slavery. Any local resistance within the empire was oppressed with the creation of a personal military household of …show more content…
Europe first encountered the sugar cane in the Mediterranean during the Crusades, while it could not provide the necessary calories for a healthy diet; it was an impressive encounter for the Europeans, whose only source of sugar had previously been through honey. The Mediterranean island Cyprus was the main production of sugar to Europe from the 13th century through to the 15th century, from there, sugarcane cultivation and sugar production moved to Atlantic islands of Madeira and the Canaries, and again in the 16th century to the Americas. Production of the sugarcane is particularly labour intensive, harvested sugarcane was also hard to transport; therefore it had to be concentrated into crystalline sugar. Early agricultural sugar production was structured through the village; the lord of the manor had limited rights to labor and production, as he did not own the land. However, African slaves began to appear in Mediterranean slave markets throughout the middle of the 14th century, although their role in Mediterranean slavery was minor, 15th century Portuguese contact with sub-Saharan ports allowed for the Portuguese to benefit from African slave trade, which had earlier only travelled north across the Sahara. The importance of a hot climate for the production of sugar prompted the Madeira and Canary Islands to become the main center of European sugar production in the 15th

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