Slavery and the Slave Trade in Spanish Economic Thought, Sixteenth to Eighteenth Centuries
Between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries slavery acquired an undoubted economic importance in the Spanish Empire, both because of the growing weight of slave labor in the New World and owing to the political, economic and administrative relevance of successive asientos. However, the attention paid to the issues of slavery and the slave trade in Spanish economic literature was decreasing: from having a place in scholastic texts in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, to becoming something completely marginal for the economists of the Enlightenment in the eighteenth century. The aim of this article is to highlight this paradox by analyzing the few texts of scholastic theologians, arbitristas and economists of the Enlightenment that addressed slavery and the slave trade. The question is interesting, since in these three centuries the Spanish economic debates reached a good level, as reflected in the translations into other European languages of numerous Spanish economic works. We will focus on original texts, but we will also provide some secondary references to contextualize them in a wider intellectual framework.
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