“The Ship Fredensborg”

A Storyline about the triangular trade

Make a plate which represents a cross-section of a ship in the scale 1:10 and a chart of the Atlantic with Europe, Africa and America included.

The year is 1767
In Copenhagen a ship is being prepared for a long journey.

How do you think you could get such a ship to sail?
Describe the crew of the ship

We have all gathered on the quay.
The ship is named. It is given the name “Fredensborg”

The Captain, the mate and the managers of the shipping company (the teachers) held speeches. They want to hire a crew.

All the applicants shall submit an application form where they shall write their name, age, their father’s income, qualifications, and what kind of job they want to apply for.

What do you think the names of that time were?
Which income do you think was common at that time?

The applications will be written and handed in, and there will be interviews with the applicants. Everybody will be told what they have been hired as.
Then we are going to man the ship.

How do you think they dressed onboard a ship in 1767?

Everybody makes their own figure in cardboard in the right proportion to the ship

We are going to make a list of what we are going to bring along in each duffel bag.

What personal effects do you think they would bring on a trip like this?

We make a package list.
We are going to load the ship and make it ready for departure. We are going to bring supplies for three months.

What kind of food do you think they have to bring when they are going to be on board a ship for such a long time?

What else do you think we need (e.g. ropes, canvas, etc.)

We are going to estimate the amount of the food we will need according to too much food each man consumes a day.
We make casks and cases of cardboard and store them in the hold.
We have been informed about some goods we are supposed to bring. We make them (in cardboard) and store them on board.
We are about ready for departure, and write farewell-letters to our close relatives.

What do you think they wrote in such letters?
Why do you think people wanted to go to sea? (Make a list of reasons)

We’re writing farewell-letters

We set sail and sail out through ‘Øresund’ (describe this as a kind of dream or fantasy. Use e.g. music from Edward Grieg’s “Peer Gynt” as background, and guide the ship out into the open sea while the audience shut their eyes and try to imagine the atmosphere)
We are told about our destination.

How do you think we find out where it is?

We work with meridians and circles of latitude defining our destination, which shows to be the Gold Coast.
We are now supposed to plot our course.

How do you think we navigate on the ocean?
How do you think it is possible to find out how far we have gone?
What way do you think it’s best to sail?

We work with compass-reading and navigation (How does a compass work? What is a log, and how does it work? What is a “cross staff” or “Jacob’s staff”, and a sextant, etc.)
We decide our course and try to estimate how long the journey will last.
We lack fresh water and have to dock by Africa’s west-coast

How do you think the landscape will be?
What do you think will be growing there?
What kinds of animals will you meet?
How do you think people are living there?

We’ll make a little model of Africa’s coast with vegetation, animals and dwellings

What do you think will happen when we get ashore?

The experience can be dramatized, described, or made into a theatre performance.
Perhaps we get invited to a party in a village. We learn how to dance to drums, sing, and are listening to African fairytales.

We will make close studies of Africa. The pupils decide whether they will concentrate on animal life, vegetation, geography, or the population - their dwellings and culture.
We write books, make posters, etc. on the chosen topic, and present the finished products to each other.

We sail the last part of the journey to the Gold Coast, and we arrive at Fort Christiansborg.

What do you think we are going to do here?

We explain what is going to happen, and have a thorough discussion about the 17th century slave trade.
We study what really took place when Fredensborg was there in 1767.

Questions and topics:
What did Fort Christiansborg look like?
How were the slaves brought there?
How many slaves did they take onboard the Fredensborg?
The living conditions onboard
The middle passage

In between the sessions we read the first part of Alex Hailey’s “Roots”

We trade the goods we carry with slaves (use plastic figures or cardboard) who we place in the hold of the ship.

Before leaving the Gold Coast we write letters home about our experiences at Christiansborg.

What feelings did it bring when we discovered what we were carrying as cargo to the next location?
What more could we write about the journey so far?

We leave the Gold Coast towards the West Indies.
During our journey across the Atlantic we practice tying knots, writing sea shanties, making rat traps, learning nautical expressions - currents - the trading winds - and so on...
Maybe there will be surprises along the way (there could be mutiny, uprise (by the slaves), we may take the wrong course, or we may run out of something (water, food, etc.)

We write about the things that happen!
We arrive at St. Croix

What do you think the landscape looks like?
What do you think a plantation looks like?
What do you think they are growing in the fields?
How do you think the plantation owner lives, and how do you think the slaves live?

We paint watercolours of the landscape and the life at St. Croix.
The paintings are put together three by three, and the pupils choose one of the collections writing poems about them.

We are leaving for our mother-country, but before that we’re supposed to load the ship with the colonial goods we have received in exchange for the slaves.

What kind of goods do you think we are going to bring back to Europe?
What do you think it is possible to grow here, and not at home?

Load the ship with colonial goods and make preparations for the trip back home

When we’re sailing into the Skagerak we’re caught by a violent gale. The ship is drifting towards the Norwegian coastline, and is crushed against some reefs. The ship ends its life here, but everybody is rescued and returns safely to home.