Tracing a thousand-year history, Mark Steeds and Roger Ball examine the involvement in slavery of Bristol’s merchants, from Anglo-Saxon times through the era of exploration and colonisation, to the transatlantic slave trade and the plantation system of the Americas. During this period, Bristol’s merchant elite seized economic and political power, making slave-trader Edward Colston an icon and shaping the city’s present-day historical memory of slavery.
Throughout the millennium, determined opposition to slavery ranged from revolts and revolutions by the enslaved to struggles for abolition in Britain. Bristol’s first abolitionist, Saint Wulfstan in the eleventh century, was followed by networks of religious and political activists who led popular and successful campaigns.
From Wulfstan to Colston concludes by considering today’s legacy of slavery and abolition as fierce debate and protest continues over who should and should not be celebrated in Bristol’s memorial landscape.
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