Black Society in Spanish Florida

Author: Jane Landers
Foreword by Peter H. Wood
Black society and experience in Spanish Florida, 1565-1821
Paper – $31
Publication Date
Paperback: 01/01/1999
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About the Book

Blacks under Spanish rule in Florida lived in a more complex and international world that linked the Caribbean, Africa, and Europe with a powerful and diverse Indian hinterland. Jane Landers’s pioneering study of people of the African diaspora under Spain’s colonial rule rewrites Florida history and enriches our understanding of the powerful links between race relations and cultural custom.

As Landers shows, Spanish Florida was a sanctuary to Blacks fleeing enslavement on plantations. Castilian law, meanwhile, offered many avenues out of slavery. In St. Augustine and elsewhere, society accepted European-African unions, with families developing community connections through marriage, concubinage, and godparents. Assisted by Spanish traditions and ever-present geopolitical threats, people of African descent leveraged linguistic, military, diplomatic, and artisanal skills into citizenship and property rights. Landers details how Blacks became homesteaders, property owners, and entrepreneurs, and in the process enjoyed greater legal and social protection than in the two hundred years of Anglo history that followed.

About the Author

Jane Landers is Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of History at Vanderbilt University. She is the author of Atlantic Creoles in the Age of Revolutions and editor of Slavery and Abolition in the Atlantic World: New Sources and New Findings.


"A fully realized book, clearly written, deeply researched in archival sources, and engaged with relevant historiography. Spanish Florida will never be the same."--David J. Weber, American Historical Review

"Sophisticated, meticulously researched, and highly informative monograph. . . . The factual information recovered by this study is of inordinate importance to the history of both the United States and the Caribbean."--Franklin W. Knight, Journal of Interdisciplinary History


• Co-winner of the Francis B. Simkins Award, Southern Historical Association, 2001
• A CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title, 2000