The Serendipitous Saga of Danish Slave Trade Frigates Christianus Quintus V and Fredericus Quartus IV, Wrecked in 1710


  • Lynn Harris East CCrolina University


A large infusion of slaves into Caribbean Costa Rica came from two Danish frigates, Christianus Quintus V and Fredericus Quartus IV, wrecked in 1710. Testimonies of witnesses presented in the Danish Court suggest that the two captains conspired from the beginning of their voyage to sail to Panama, instead of the intended destination of St. Thomas. Here they could sell the slaves at a higher price. Part of the voyage account noted that the Danish ships had an unintended stopover at the island of Santa Catalina, a strategic base for British pirates and Miskito Indian allies engaged in slave raids in Costa Rica. After this stopover, the captains amended their plans to head to Central America. It is a significant global narrative intertwining the history of Denmark, England, Costa Rica, and West Africa that contributes towards understanding another complex dimension of slave trade in the early eighteenth century. This study aims to present a historical context for events surrounding the voyage and introduce subsequent investigations of signature artifacts, especially bricks and manillas, from two shipwreck sites in Cahuita National Park.

Author Biography

Lynn Harris, East CCrolina University

Lynn Harris (PhD University of South Carolina) has a background in nautical archaeology, terrestrial archaeology, submerged cultural resource management and maritime history. Areas of fieldwork experience and research interest include the American South, Africa, and the Caribbean.