Talk:Slavery in medieval Europe

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Serfdom[edit]

The material on Serfdom was nicely done, but it belongs in the Serfdom article rather than here. Bejnar 21:13, 1 April 2006 (UTC)


The statement that "Slav" is the basis for the word "Slave" contradicts the article on "Slavic People", which notes that this is a false etymology created by Third Reich propoganda.

[They do not contradict each other but matches together. Please review the below statements again carefully. A false etymology, popular in Nazi propaganda, derived "Slav" from "slave"[citation needed]. In fact, the reverse is true. The word slave is derived from Middle Latin sclavus, in turn derived from the ethnonym discussed above, because of the large number of Slavs captured during the raids of Turkic nomads and sold to Europe through slave markets along various routes, see, e.g., saqaliba.]


Also, the subheading of "Thrall" directly contradicts the information given in the main article for "Thrall" that it links to! This one says that a free woman and a thrall produce a free child, and a free man and a thrall woman produce a thrall, but the main article says the exact opposite.

That law is not uniform from country to country -- but in both locations, the legal system involved should be cited. Goldfritha 23:05, 28 July 2006 (UTC)


This article is interesting, but doesn't answer to basic questions.

1 - The prisoners captured by the Franks were sent to Spain, and more exactly to Tortosa at the mouth of river Ebro. When slave trade was forbidden in the Empire, where did the Tortosans get their slaves from ?

2 - According to some specialists, the prisoners captured by the Vikings in Ireland and in Aquitaine were sent to Denmark, then crossed Russia, reached Constantinople and then were sent to the Califate of Bagdad and the Sultanate of Cordoba in Spain. This is a quite long route to go from France to Spain. Do you think that the Vikings ravaging Aquitaine ignored that Tortosa, the main slave buyer in western Europe, was lying on the other side of Pyrénées mountains ?

You can have a look at this : www.vikinginfrance.com

Slavery in the Byzantine Empire[edit]

Is there any sort of information on slavery in the Byzantine Empire? Kostantino888Z (talk) 02:06, 13 July 2009 (UTC)

There should be. Apparently there is a forthcoming book called "Byzantine Slavery and the Mediterranean World" by Youval Rotman, published by Harvard University Press, but we'll have to wait until November to read it...otherwise I'm not sure where to look. Perhaps you could ask at Talk:Byzantine Empire? Adam Bishop (talk) 02:18, 13 July 2009 (UTC)

Thank you! That actually seems like an interesting book, I might have to read it and see how it conflicts with Eastern Orthodoxy; if it even does. Kostantino888Z (talk) 02:26, 13 July 2009 (UTC)

I looked around the Internet and did finds brief mentionings of slavery at [1], [2], and [3]. I honestly have no idea if these are reliable sites so we might need to take these small blurbs with a grain of salt. Kostantino888Z (talk) 02:31, 13 July 2009 (UTC)

The Google Books result looks fine. General Byzantine history books might mention slavery briefly. I don't think it would have been contradictory to Orthodoxy; in the west the Catholic Church dealt with it in canon law with no difficulty. The Byzantines never really lost their connection to Roman law, where slavery was very important, so I don't think anyone would have thought twice about it. There were plenty of non-Christians to enslave when the Empire was surrounded by pagan countries! Adam Bishop (talk) 02:37, 13 July 2009 (UTC)

I think I might be bold and add it then, if no one minds. Kostantino888Z (talk) 02:04, 16 July 2009 (UTC)

Slavery was actually not common in medieval europe[edit]

Slavery was actually not common in medieval europe as compared to the roman empire, ancient greece, the byzantine empire, eygytian empire, or asian societies. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 50.1.147.243 (talk) 19:10, 16 November 2011 (UTC)

Are there any citations for the statement about slavery being relatively uncommon in medieval Europe? Barkway (talk) 07:13, 14 November 2013 (UTC)

Any real numbers of amount of people enslaved by germanic males?[edit]

Are there any sources that actaully have proof of the amount of people enslaved by real ethnic germanic males? It seems that if vikings enslaved 10 people in ireland or some slavic country then celtic and slavic historians hype that up by way of not giving the actual number of celts or slavs enslaved by real germanic males, but instead just give the subterfugal "celts and slavs were enslaved". — Preceding unsigned comment added by 50.103.147.243 (talk) 19:25, 16 November 2011 (UTC)

You're not going to find specific numbers for something like that, although I suppose historians have made guesses somewhere along the way. What's the deal with "real ethnic Germanic males" anyway? You think Germans would never enslave anyone? Adam Bishop (talk) 23:17, 17 November 2011 (UTC)

I know that germanic males did enslave a few but it does not merit mention if the amount was small. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Toadsmithe (talkcontribs) 18:30, 19 November 2011 (UTC)

Slav does not equal slave[edit]

In the wikipedia article Slavonic peoples it does not say that Slav equals slave so I am going to remove the Slave equals slave reference.


"Slavery in early medieval Europe was relatively uncommon and in Western Europe slavery largely disappeared by the later Middle Ages"

"Throughout this period slaves were traded openly in most cities, including cities as diverse as Marseilles, Dublin, Verdun and Prague, and many were sold to buyers in the Middle East"

"Slavery in medieval Europe was so common that the Church repeatedly prohibited it"

"The medieval slave trade was mainly to the East: Byzantine Empire and the Muslim World"

wow can these assertions be more contradictory?? — Preceding unsigned comment added by 216.183.185.133 (talk) 23:02, 9 April 2012 (UTC)

Radhanites[edit]

"Because of religious constraints, the slave trade was monopolised by Iberian Jews (known as Radhanites) who were able to transfer the slaves from pagan Central Europe through Christian Western Europe to Muslim countries in Al-Andalus and North Africa." Radhanites were not "Iberian jews" but jewish traders based in the Rhône Valley in France or in Persia. From the wikipedia article on Radhanites, "Jewish merchants dominated trade between the Christian and Islamic worlds during the early Middle Ages (approx. 500–1000 AD)." They travelled not only to Al Andalus and North Africa but to middle east and Asia. Conclusion: I suggest a correction. Mreg93 11:55, 28 april 2012 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Mreg93 (talkcontribs)

Medieval European slavery and the USA compared[edit]

Medieval European slavery and the USA compared — Preceding unsigned comment added by 50.103.137.229 (talk) 00:00, 18 April 2013 (UTC)

Historians do not actually know[edit]

Historians do not actually know the extent of ethnic Germanic people of England being involved in slavery or if most of the slaves of England were owned by British Celts.

Historians also do not know whether the Vikings actually increased the amount of people being enslaved since historians do not know how many people Vikings enslaved and how many people were enslaved by Celtic people and Slavic people in the places that Vikings invaded. Vikings contribution to the enslavement of people was more than likely very small compared to non-Germanic groups. And the reason why historians hype up the Vikings is because most historians are anti-Germanic in their guessings of history. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 50.103.142.6 (talk) 22:27, 25 April 2013 (UTC)

/* Early Middle Ages */ bullshit statement with false reference removed[edit]

Just removed a bogus claim that was referenced to a _real_ book that did not support it. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 108.234.148.106 (talk) 22:26, 3 December 2013 (UTC)

Right except I checked the Google version of the book, and it did in fact support most of the claim. For example the claim she banned the trade in Christian captives and bought and freed slaves is mentioned in page 111 which our article provide as the page for that reference before you removed it. The suggestion she was a previous slave is mention in pages 97-99. I didn't explicitly verify the claim it was a 'major factor'. If you contest this aspect, you should consider rewording rather than deleting a mostly supported statement and should at least make clear what you are contesting. Considering the spurious removal here and your history elsewhere, I've also reverted your second change. While it was unsourced as is the entire paragraph and while I didn't try to verify much of it, I did note that Radhanites does mention their involvement in the slave trade and while it isn't sourced that well, I assume that it is probably supportable. Similarly Khazars mentions their involvement in the slave trade and it is sourced albeit the specific example they give of the Pechenegs are not a Slavonic people (but it also say "other tribesmen from the Eurasian northlands"). And actually investigation the source it does specifically mention Slavs being one of the sources (actually the summation in that article seems a little bit different from what the source actually says) although it's a bit unclear to me if they're referring to Khazars or Sâmânid amîrs or both as the source of Slav slaves. In other words, your claim it is unsupportable seems questionable at best. Nil Einne (talk) 22:08, 13 December 2013 (UTC)

Russian slavery[edit]

I wonder, Russia enslaved everybody in its realm, except for numbered estates maybe constituting 10% of its population, while it was still located entirely in Europe, and then it spread the slavery across Eurasia as it expanded to the Pacific. The slavery in Russia was called "krepostnichestvo", and only in 1861 it was formally replaced with obligations of the slaves to buy themselves out in 50 years. The actual buyout payments to their owners were obligatory till 1905, when the popular uprising forced Russian monarchy to cease the enforcement. Till 1861, the runaway slaves were hunted down and returned to their owners, till 1905 the hiding slave debtors were hunted down and forced to pay up. The Russian slave holders could sell them at will, inside and outside of the country. The church was a largest slave owner. In 1900, 80% of the Russian population were former slave peasants, and had to pay to their former owners. Tons of books, including school history textbooks, are written on the subject. That Medieval Europe, and Medieval Asia, continued in Russia till 1905. Revolutionary movements, including "Narodovolchestvo", were fighting against Russian slavery. Is the "Medieval Europe" of the article a selected club that pointedly excludes Russia and the peasant revolts in Russia? Barefact (talk) 08:13, 30 January 2014 (UTC)


partial page overhaul[edit]

This page has been updated as part of a class group assignment undertaken by students in a seminar on "Approaches to Medieval Violence," taught by Oren Falk at Cornell University (December 2014). The revisions were written by nine students, undergraduate & graduate, from a variety of disciplines: History, Medieval Studies, Philosophy, Business, and Computer Science. The students revised or wrote from scratch five sections (detailed below; the rest of the page was left untouched). Their contributions were compiled, (lightly) edited, and uploaded by the course instructor.

The students supplied the following rationales for their revisions:

We changed the section on "serfdom and slavery" because the current section lacked several differences we believed to be crucial when distinguishing the two. It also did not address at all how slavery transitioned into serfdom, which we felt was a glaring oversight.

The existing page doesn't have anything on "justifications for slavery," except for a section on slavery and law which is missing citations. The section we wrote addresses the discourses around slavery used not only by Christians but also Jews and Muslims. It also helps to explain why certain groups were more frequently enslaved than others.

The "Near East" comprises a large geographic region with a substantial impact on the economics of the slave trade in other parts of the Mediterranean. The addition of information on this region both under Byzantine and under Islamic rule will substantially improve the coherence of the Medieval Slavery article as a whole. Now, when the "Slave Trade" section reference the large demand for slaves in the Islamic Near East, readers have a section to go to for information about why such a demand existed.

There is currently no section addressing the question of slavery in "Christian Iberia" (and only a brief paragraph talking about slavery in Muslim Iberia). This addition gives important background to later iterations of slavery in Spain, and in the Spanish and Portuguese empires.

The existing "Slave Trade" section was woefully incomplete, lacking in scholarly and primary sources, and had a heavy emphasis on Mongols. This revision provides a broader survey of Medieval European Slave Trade, with abundant citations to scholarly and primary sources.

HIS4910 (talk) 07:12, 7 December 2014 (UTC)

HIS4910 (talk) 21:03, 7 December 2014 (UTC)

Jewish merchants - slave traders ?[edit]

The paragraph here reflects outdated knowledge. In the past this was the accepted view, but Michael Tuch showed [1]that it was all based on a misinterpretation of the great scholar Charles Verlinden. The paragraph must be updated.

--הלל. (talk) 08:31, 30 June 2017 (UTC)

Inaccurate characterization[edit]

A lot of this article is based on some false premises. See this article which provides a nice summary of the Medieval slave trade.

In a nutshell: Western Europe entered a death spiral after the collapse of the Western Empire and decline of the trading networks with the Eastern Empire. The West was cut off from the civilized world. Then enter the Arab empires. The Arabs had an appetite for slaves. The Frankish (Germanic) peoples of central Europe found that by raiding the Slavs to the east they had a lucrative supply of slaves to sell to Muslim Spain and the rest of the Arab world. This became one of the main factors in the Carolingian Renaissance pulling Western Europe out of the so-called Dark Ages and allowing their economies to grow again.

Yes, the church officially forbade this practice and it is probably the case that the number of slaves actually utilized by Europeans was in decline during the Middle Ages. But to say that slavery overall was in decline in Europe is completely false. The turn of the millennium was in fact a booming period for the European slave trade.

-- MC 141.131.2.3 (talk) 22:39, 10 October 2017 (UTC)

  1. ^ Toch, Michael (2013). The Economic History of European Jews: Late Antiquity and Early Middle Ages. Leiden, Boston: Brill. p. 178-189. ISBN 978 90 04 23534 2.