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Home > Enslaving the millions: How did so many Africans become slaves?

How did so many Africans become slaves?

 

Image of a slave depicted on a map of Sierra Leone.

Image of a slave depicted on a map of Sierra Leone.

Slavery has existed for thousands of years. The ancient civilizations of Greece, Rome and Egypt were built using slave labour and fought their battles using enslaved soldiers. Slavery was not, however, confined to these empires. Practically every country on every continent experienced some kind of slavery. Most of these early slaves were prisoners of war and most remained in their native country living in widely varying conditions.

From the 1400s the situation began to change and slavery became far more systematic. Merchant adventurers, initially from Portugal, started to transport men, women and children from the West Coast of Africa to work on the plantations and estates that were being established in the Americas. The modern slave trade had begun. Over the next four hundred years, it has been estimated that over 12 million Africans were forcibly uprooted and sold into slavery.

How did this happen? Find out more by studying the following case studies: How were so many Africans enslaved? and Why were so many Africans enslaved?

Go to Case Study 1Go to Case Study 2

 

 

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