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'From the Day of My Death'
A Heroic View of Slavery

"I declare and ordain as free and quit of every obligation of captivity, subjection, and slavery, my captured slave Enrique, mulatto, native of the city of Malacca, of the age of twenty-six years more or less, that from the day of my death thenceforward forever the said Enrique may be free and manumitted, and quit, exempt, and relieved of every obligation of slavery and subjection, and that he may act as he desires and thinks fit."

-Ferdinand Magellan, June 19, 1519

Magellan also willed Enrique 1,000 maravedis.

The heroic view of slavery, expressed by Magellan in the will above, occupies the moral ground halfway between the primitive view of slavery encountered among Eastern Woodland Indians, who typically used slavery of militarily able men and boys as a trial period between capture and adoption, and the idea of plantation chattel.

In societies where warrior culture is important, total masculine reduction and invalidation of the owned person is not common. Even in a massive chattel society like Rome, since there was high value placed on martial spirit, slaves who made the warrior grade could be permitted to live on and serve as gladiators and bodyguards rather than simply be degraded like the chattel of the Early Modern Age. Even in savage Morocco, slaves such as Thomas Pellow might be elevated to warrior status and even command.

But in protestant societies of the Early Modern Age, where every soldier was an expendable slave to be dressed up, paraded and shot, masculinity stood as a barrier to total domestication and the breaking of the captive soul, such that by 1800, legal action was being taken in the United States to limit the ability of a grateful owner to release his slaves from bondage. Even George Washington was foiled in his plan to release his black slaves by the disloyalty his wicked widow.

By the Wine Dark Sea

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