PROLOGUE: THE SLAVE TRADERS - T-ISLAND SCREENPLAY
It was a wet, windy and generally downcast day for the royal incumbents at Windsor Castle, Old London Town. Rats ran riot inside and outside the stone walls, with raw sewage stinking up the capital, if there was no rain to wash toward the toxic river Thames. If you fell in, you'd like be pulled out a corpse, or smell like the rats and excrement you'd have swum with.
Oh for Thomas Crapper to make his appearance, but not until 1861 would the sanitary engineer patent his water closet improvements. Two hundred years hence. Thus, perfumes masked the unpleasant odours, as they moved from room to room. King Charles II and his brother James Stuart II sat facing a roaring log fire. A table was strewn with food scraps, and wine goblets, the men having had their fill.
In the Court of King Charles II, the talk was of waning revenues and lost opportunities, with occasional reference to a stray odour. Finally, the courtiers dismissed, only two brothers remained.
"This castle was built in the 11th century by William the Conqueror ..."
"After the Norman invasion of England.
Yes brother," said James to his elder kin, King Charles.
"Baroque extravagances do not come quickly or cheaply, James, which brings us to your proposal, I'll wager."
The year was 1660, September, a fortunate time with the termination of the Anglo-Spanish war, temporarily freeing Charles to think on raising more revenue for his construction dalliances, and the colonies needed more muscle to farm high yield crops.
"Yes Charles, Dutch and Spanish forces beat a retreat. That Parliamentarian and his crew were mustard in battle, but so abrasive in politics. And there is so much more to be had than simple conquest. I've heard of the cash crops multiplying so as to be incapable of harvesting, stifled only by a lack of manpower, supplies and cargo. I have the backing of City merchants to pay for ships, Prince Rupert of the Rhine, Duke of Cumberland, as advisor - for to transport the necessary, but need assurances for that kind of investment."
"What kind of assurances brother?"
"There is gold from the Gambia river, and other trifles for the taking. What is needed is protection against competing traders."
"Protection then is the worry. What, then, how, might that be achieved, I wonder?
"Sire, a Royal Charter will suffice. Limited to so..."
"Suffice. You say that as if Charters grow on trees."
Both men smiled. James played with a goblet. Charles threw meat scraps to the dogs.
"Well in a manner of speaking your Majesty, parchment is made from wood pulp, so trees of sorts."
The King was joking, as well his brother knew.
"That is the gold, and a goodly share had best come my way investment wise, or hells to pay. Now what of labour. We need field workers. We need ship loads of slaves. The plantations eat them up and spit them out. Once broken, I hear Africans make excellent workers."
"Sire, if you are minded to issue papers bearing a Royal seal, we might test the water, so to speak, not tipping our hand. Then, if all goes well, after a trial period of so many years. We might expand the mandate officially. Thus slaves we will carry, but not as the labeled cargo. Not straight away. At least that is how the backers wish to play."
"I here tell our competitors are well advanced in such matters. You will have your papers, just set down the company name for assignation, and pass to my scribe for to add the official seals. You will have your papers on the premise that gold from Africa will repay the merchants and your overseeing. While strong and healthy Negroes will fill the fields in our colonies. And I want them that survive the transportation, to be treated well in the feeding and housing. For to extract more in the harvesting."
"With all the usual precautions?" said James.
"Oh, caveats aplenty. Of course with soldiers at way stations, forts, and a task force for runaways. Ships that violate my Royal exclusive, may be taken, sunk or prized, the spoils to be divided equally. Half for your backers, and half for the Crown. How does that sound?"
"That sounds like the answer to a maiden's pray, highness. Most graciously accepted and with deepest gratitude's from our merchant and banking backers, I'll wager."
"Yes, yes, yes." The King nodded his head. "Now what of the Spanish?"
"The peace is holding. Cromwell dying left England high and dry, for sure. If only Spain would sign a treaty, to formalize the détente." Prince James sighed, pausing to scratch his mane of knotted hair.
A plan is hatched to bolster revenues by supplying British colonies with minerals and other supplies from Africa, as added income to privateer bounty. Gold, diamonds and slaves. The Crown was about to enter into the slave trade.
Many colonies were founded on slavery. The British colonial Empire captured and exported African natives, to their (sugar, coffee, tobacco) plantations in the Caribbean and North America, such as Carolina and Virginia.
King of the slave traders. The Duke of York, Prince James II, was responsible for the deaths of thousands of Africans, and other human rights abuses. Not to mention kidnapping. You could be forgiven for thinking they are something out of Black Adder.
SCENE 5. SUNKEN CITY SURVEY - Present Day, Swann's sensors scan the ocean bed, revealing mausoleum former Governor of Jamaica.
JILL BIRD - London. John
Storm's finds lost Henry Morgan's pirate remains. "And for those of you wondering,
there was no treasure."
SCENE 10. SHIP'S COOK - William Gray helps John Long's cut-throats to crew for Huntington's Hispaniola, Long a dab hand on the galley.
SCENE 12. SKELETON ISLAND - Intrigued by map proffered by Lord Huntington, John agrees to switch attention to location, to coast of Panama. .
SCENE 17. BLACKBEARD'S CURSE - John retakes Swann, Hal immobilizes Black Jack and Billy Bones and rescues prisoners on Hispaniola.