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Arming SlavesFrom Classical Times to the Modern Age$
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Christopher Leslie Brown and Philip D. Morgan

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780300109009

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300109009.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM YALE SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.yale.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Yale University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in YSO for personal use.date: 31 May 2020

Armed Slaves and Political Authority in Africa in the Era of the Slave Trade, 1450–1800

Armed Slaves and Political Authority in Africa in the Era of the Slave Trade, 1450–1800

Chapter:
(p.79) Armed Slaves and Political Authority in Africa in the Era of the Slave Trade, 1450–1800
Source:
Arming Slaves
Author(s):

John Thornton

Publisher:
Yale University Press
DOI:10.12987/yale/9780300109009.003.0004

In Africa, slaves were commonly armed to facilitate a centralization of power. However, this practice also ran the risk of creating a cohesive group whose interests might run counter to those of their masters. Slavery is pervasive in African societies, but slaves in general have rights or privileges that make African slave-holding systems “benign.” Much of Africa from the fifteenth to the early nineteenth centuries was dominated by small political units whose dynamics suggest subtle differences in the ways in which armed slaves played a role in politics. Self-aggrandizing kings relied on slaves or other dependents to build their armed forces and enhance their political authority. This chapter explores the use of armed slaves to solidify the political authority of African rulers in the era of the slave trade, 1450–1800.

Keywords:   slaves, slavery, Africa, armed slaves, politics, armed forces, political authority, slave trade

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