Mastering the Law: Slavery and Freedom in the Legal Ecology of the Spanish Empire

Mastering the Law: Slavery and Freedom in the Legal Ecology of the Spanish Empire

by Ricardo Raul Salazar Rey

Hardcover(First Edition)

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Explores the legal relationships of enslaved people and their descendants during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in Spanish America
Atlantic slavery can be overwhelming in its immensity and brutality, as it involved more than 15 million souls forcibly displaced by European imperialism and consumed in building the global economy. Mastering the Law: Slavery and Freedom in the Legal Ecology of the Spanish Empire lays out the deep history of Iberian slavery, explores its role in the Spanish Indies, and shows how Africans and their descendants used and shaped the legal system as they established their place in Iberoamerican society during the seventeenth century.
Ricardo Raúl Salazar Rey places the institution of slavery and the people involved with it at the center of the creation story of Latin America. Iberoamerican customs and laws and the institutions that enforced them provided a common language and a forum to resolve disputes for Spanish subjects, including enslaved and freedpeople. The rules through which Iberian conquerors, settlers, and administrators incorporated Africans into the expanding Empire were developed out of the need of a distant crown to find an enforceable consensus. Africans and their mestizo descendants, in turn, used and therefore molded Spanish institutions to serve their interests.Salazar Rey mined extensively the archives of secular and religious courts, which are full of complex disputes, unexpected subversions, and tactical alliances among enslaved people, freedpeople, and the crown.
The narrative unfolds around vignettes that show Afroiberians building their lives while facing exploitation and inequality enforced through violence. Salazar Rey deals mostly with cases originating from Cartagena de Indias, a major Atlantic port city that supported the conquest and rule of the Indies. His work recovers the voices and indomitable ingenuity that enslaved people and their descendants displayed when engaging with the Spanish legal ecology. The social relationships animating the case studies represent the broader African experience in the Americas during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780817320669
Publisher: University of Alabama Press
Publication date: 11/17/2020
Series: Atlantic Crossings Series
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 216
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Ricardo Raúl Salazar Rey is assistant professor of Latin American history at the University of Connecticut Stamford.

Table of Contents

List of Figures xi

Preface xiii

Acknowledgments xvii

Introduction: Slavery and the Law in Latin America 1

1 Empire, Province, Law, and Enslaved Afroiberians 19

2 Cases of Faith 47

3 Slaves and the Courts 73

4 Royal Justice 96

Conclusion 120

Notes 129

Bibliography 165

Index 183

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