From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search


This article claims slave trade was made illegal in England in 1102 CE. I question the relevance of this statement. I know *nothing* about the facts "on the ground" in 1102. In 1772, when Somerset vs Steuart was decided there were an estimated 15,000 black slaves living in England. So the facts are that slavery continued in England and that England was deeply involved in the global slave trade. I think the fact that slavery existed in England until the 1800's is far more pertinent here that some claim that "slave trade" (what does that even mean in this context??) was "made illegal" 670 years earlier. Obviously, whether or not the law was enforced in 1102, there were "a couple" of government changes between then and 1772; the 1102 law is largely irrelevant and sheds no light on the practice of slavery in England in the 1700's. (talk) 10:49, 11 October 2016 (UTC)

It's dealt with in the "Abolitionism" section, which is a WP:DUE summary of the main article. --Iryna Harpy (talk) 20:07, 11 October 2016 (UTC)


The article claims The term 'forced labour' is also used to describe all types of slavery and may also include institutions not commonly classified as slavery, such as serfdom... (my bolding). I've frequently seen serfdom described as a form of slavery, and the articles serfdom and Supplementary_Convention_on_the_Abolition_of_Slavery treat it as such. (Plus, the word 'serf' is derived from the Latin for slave). Iapetus (talk) 23:12, 3 December 2016 (UTC)

@Wardog: If your concern is that the line contradicts your assumption that serfdom should always be consider as equal to slavery, just realize that serfdom is Not always the same as slavery. Central to the definition of serfdom is the contract and the manor. Still, practices and applications varied considerably across time and space. That's why the article states, "distinctions were often less clear than suggested by their different names". Keep in mind that we are trying to classify behavior and events that often defy the parameters imposed by the limitations of our language. Caballero/Historiador 20:35, 13 December 2016 (UTC)
My issue is not so much that "serfdom should always be consider as equal to slavery", but rather that in my experience it often is considered so, but the article claims it usually isn't. (In contrast, I've seen both conscription and penal labour described as slavery, but this doesn't seem to be a common view). Perhaps the simplest solution would be to change "not commonly classified as slavery" to "not necessarily classed as slavery". Or with a bit more work, say something about who considers them to be or not to be forms of slavery. Iapetus (talk) 10:26, 16 December 2016 (UTC)

18th century slaves of the Atlantic[edit]

The Atlantic working class of the 18th century has been omitted from the list of significant slave groups. Linebaugh and Rediker make a reasonable argument that a subculture of apprentices, servants, Irish and slaves were the driving force behind a break with the colonial ruling classes. The groups, referred to by colonists as a “Hydra” met in taverns and at street parties along east coast ports and found themselves united in discontent at the oppression that they endured. It was this pressure that forged them into the political mobs that were willing to go to war in order to free themselves from the colonialist oppression.[1]Mbrennan00 (talk) 01:45, 8 December 2016 (UTC)

@Mbrennan00: Thanks for your comment, and kudos for reading Linebaugh and Rediker. I suggest you boldly WP:BOLD find a way to include the Atlantic working class in the article, but the whole of it should not be classified as slavery. In other words, the hydra includes slaves, but it is not slavery. So, if you are to include the idea of the hydra (or the Atlantic working class) do so as part of the Atlantic history section, but making a distinction between the two (hydra not equal to slavery). If you prefer, we can use this space to rehearse the wording. Caballero/Historiador 20:35, 13 December 2016 (UTC)

Slavery in Africa: Tuareg Image[edit]

The Tuareg image in the section on Africa has a caption that reads "Tuareg society is traditionally feudal, ranging from nobles, through vassals, to dark-skinned slaves." This seems to mischaracterize the source that it cites (Fortin, Jacey (16 January 2013). "Mali's Other Crisis: Slavery Still Plagues Mali, And Insurgency Could Make It Worse". International Business Times) by suggesting that this source explains "dark-skinned slaves" as part of the feudal classes. The exact quote in Fortin's article is from Sarah Mathewson who states, "We’re mainly working with ethnic Tuaregs, who have a very strong hierarchy including nobles, warriors and slave classes." Earlier in the article Fortin writes that slaves and masters are described as "black" and "white" for historical reasons that are no longer as true as they were in the past. Fortin seems concerned with showing that these terms of "black" and "white" don't necessarily match reality; thus, Fortin makes a point of stating that "members of both groups have varying skin tones."

As another note, unlike the other images in this wikipedia page that clearly show something related to slavery, I cannot find any indication outside of this wikipedia article caption that either individual in the photograph is a slave. The image seems to be of nomadic shepherds and the Wikipedia file description from the photographer (H. Grobe) calls them nomads. Perhaps this photo should not be used to illustrate slavery at all.

Thus, all things being considered, I think this photo and caption should be removed. Jayreed33 (talk) 16:32, 13 December 2016 (UTC)

  • Support. I think that Jayreed33 makes a good case against holding this pic in the article. Thanks for noticing and calling attention to this mistake. Caballero/Historiador 20:35, 13 December 2016 (UTC)


Request minor edits to Middle Ages[edit]

I have only made a couple of edits in Wikipedia, that must be why I can't edit the article. I can understand why this article is edit-protected.A6910 (talk) 17:42, 17 February 2017 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by A6910 (talkcontribs) 17:02, 12 February 2017 (UTC)

I think I can make an improvement to this part of the article with regards to balancing point of view. One of the edits is where it says, "In 1452, Pope Nicholas V..." I propose to add, "In 1452, with the Muslim conquest of Constantinople imminent, Pope Nicholas V...". This would do a little bit (but not enough) to help clarify why Pope Nicholas V wrote Dum Diversas.

There is much more historical background information needed to properly understand Dum Diversas. Pope Nicholas granted permission to the king of Portugal to hold the Muslims in slavery as the lesser of evils in a situation where doing nothing would have meant the death of Christians (for whom the pope was responsible), or at the very least, their enslavement by the Muslims. Pope Nicholas did not have to explicitly state that enslavement was the lesser of evils because he was not writing a letter to 21st century critics, he was writing a letter to a 15th century king who would have understood that. Critics of the Church point to Dum Diversas as an example of the Church’s endorsement of the evils of slavery. Careful, unbiased study reveals not an endorsement of evil, but rather an undesirable, but prudent decision by the pope during an era of widespread death, destruction, and slavery as the result of seemingly constant warfare and invasions, a reality that modern sensibilities can have difficulty grasping. Pope Nicholas V, faced with preserving the lives of Christians in difficult circumstances, had to deal with it from the very dangerous reality of the times in 1452, not from the ideal situation in which we find ourselves now in the 21st century in which proper measures to eliminate slavery can be facilitated with much greater ease.

When attacked by those who were intent on killing or enslaving them, Christians had little choice but to fight and defeat their enemies, sometimes preemptively, to preserve their own lives. When Christians defeated their enemies, something had to be done with the captured combatants. Setting them free was not an option because the freed combatants would simply regroup and resume their attack to kill the Christians; the execution of the combatants was an undesirable, evil option, even in the most dire circumstances. Thus, the Christians would have been suddenly faced with guarding and feeding thousands of hostile Muslim soldiers for an indefinite period of time. This simply was not feasible at that time in history, which lacked the modern means of food production and distribution that we have today. Thus, in this difficult situation, the least evil option for the Church was to keep the enemy combatants (who otherwise did absolutely nothing but eat) occupied with the productive work that was necessary to keep everyone fed - i.e., slavery. It was called slavery, but Pope Nicholas V's intentions had nothing to do with the cruelty that is so popularly associated with slavery in America or the unjustified bondage of the innocent.

Another minor edit I propose (in the interest of due weight) is to delete the statement that Dum Diversas “legitimized the slave trade as the result of war”. Dum Diversas says nothing about the buying and selling of slaves, i.e., the slave trade. Keep in mind that the bull Dum Diversas was a private, sealed letter addressed to a king; it was not a doctrinal statement to the whole world about the “legitimacy of the slave trade”. I am adding here a citation to the only article I could find that includes the entire text of Dum Diversas.[1]

And here are two excellent articles about the Church's position on slavery:[2](You have to scroll halfway down to get to the part on slavery.) Also[3].

The statement I propose to delete cites an essay by Diana Hayes, whose opinions misrepresent (or at least she misunderstands) what the Catholic Church teaches. Here is one example, taken from her essay Reflections on Slavery:

Indented text As the statements cited in this book show, from its very beginning, the church not only acknowledged but actively supported the “natural order” of slavery. As Pope Gregory I (ca. 600) noted: “A hidden dispensation of providence has arranged a hierarchy of merit and rulership, in that the difference between classes of men has arisen as a result of sin and is ordered by divine justice.” The enslaved were slaves because of their own faults and failures, and the church did not see its role or responsibility to change this state of affairs.[4]

It is Diana Hayes, not Pope Gregory, who is saying that the enslaved were slaves because of their own faults and failures. Here Diana Hayes fails to make the distinction between original sin and personal sin, a distinction so commonplace in the Catholic ethos that ordinary Catholics understand the contextual meaning even without the modifying adjectives original and personal. Even in this short excerpt, it is clear that Pope Gregory is referring to the original sin of Adam and Eve, not the personal sins of the slaves. There are countless examples in Catholic writings, from Paul’s letter to the Romans to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, in which original sin is referred to simply as “sin”. Furthermore, the “hidden dispensation of providence” that Gregory speaks of is simply the acknowledgement that God’s ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8). When sin entered the world through the original sin of Adam and Eve, “divine justice” (which Gregory mentions) demanded consequences; sometimes those consequences come about as the result of free human actions that are evil, such as slavery. Incidentally, this is one of the ways that the Catholic Church explains the problem of evil and the purpose of suffering to a world that doubts the existence of a loving God. God loves us so much that He leaves us with the use of our free will even when we do evil (such as slavery), but in his “hidden dispensation of providence” He uses the consequences of evil actions (suffering) as a means to conquer that evil (Jesus Christ did that very thing). God also uses suffering to draw sufferers closer to Himself (again Jesus is the model for that), and thus to greater glory in heaven.

I am new to Wikipedia editing, and I agree wholeheartedly with all the guidelines I have been reading about. I have read the article about assuming good faith and I am assuming good faith with the editor who cited the Hayes essay. Unfortunately, I am not skilled enough as a writer to put things into the encyclopedic style of writing with the neutral point of view that is required on Wikipedia articles. I am also still learning the proper conventions for citing sources, no original research, etc. My intent is to improve the article’s balance and give due weight to the 2000 years of Catholic consensus on this matter, which should be given more weight than opinions that misrepresent what the Catholic Church says about itself. A6910 (talk) 21:50, 11 February 2017 (UTC)

American English[edit]

Because the page MOS:ARTCON states that one variety of English must be consistent throughout the article, I switched the spelling of "labor" to the American version, given that words such as "recognize" already use a Z instead of an S, and that the article uses American mm/dd/yyyy dates. TheBD2000 (talk) 19:53, 12 February 2017 (UTC)

  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^