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The Danish slave trade occurred separately in two different periods: the trade in European slaves during the Viking Age, from the 8th to 10th century; and the Danish role in selling African slaves during the Atlantic slave trade, from the 1600s until a 1792 law to abolish the trade came into effect on 1 January 1803. Slavery continued in the Danish West Indies until July, 1848, when all unfree people in Danish lands were emancipated.
During the Viking Age, thralls (Norse slaves) were an important part of the economy and one of the main reasons for the raids on England where slaves were captured. This practice was abolished once Denmark became Christian in the 10th century.
Trading African slaves was part of the transatlantic slave trade by Denmark-Norway around 1671, when the Danish West India Company was chartered until 1 January 1803 when the 1792 law to abolish the slave trade came into effect. However, an illegal trade in enslaved Africans continued.
Slavery in the Danish West Indies continued until 3 July 1848 when slaves gathered at Frederiksted and demanded their freedom. Fearing a revolt Danish Governor Peter von Scholten issued a proclamation that "all unfree in the Danish West Indies are from today emancipated."
As of 1778, it was estimated annually Dano-Norwegians shipped approximately 3,000 African slaves to the Danish West Indies. During the 1720s, many of these African slaves were sourced the Akan-region Akwamu, Ga-Adangbe in present-day Ghana, with a large number taken to the island of St Jan (now Saint John in the U.S. Virgin Islands) promptly rebelling and attempting to found an Akwamu-led nation, including one of its leaders Breffu. The country's ships transported approximately 100,000 African slaves, about 2% of the total number in the early 19th century.
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