What characterized Black experiences in early modern German-speaking Europe was its diverse nature. People of African descent served in courts as musicians, servants, and confidants, and they entered the Church as priests and nuns. One extraordinary philosopher, Anton Wilhelm Amo, made a name in academia. At the same time, however, the birth of the transatlantic slave trade meant that the status of Black people in Europe was shifting downward. Although German courts played a minor role in the slave trade, as these documents here tell us, they nonetheless established their own slave trading companies and assisted other nations in the creation of the Middle Passage. In this context images of Black people began to take on more demeaning features.

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Life at court

Anton Wilhelm Amo

Travel and trade, science and slavery

Black saintly figures