The slavery system is a dark part of human history that denied the freedom of people and made a class of people to suffer. Slavery started in ancient times and continued to the present time but it does not have the same structure throughout history. The history of slavery is a long one and it has many cultures, nationalities, and religions behind it. To know the history of the world we need to know the history of slavery.
The main goal is to study and analyze the history of slavery. We will know what made that system in the 1st place. Then we need to know what made it keep appearing throughout history. Here we will see how social, economic, and legal positions of slaves have made it different from one time and place to another. What type of factors like Cultures, nationalities, and religion played a part in shaping it. Then we will discuss its brief history and lastly, I will give my interpretation on the subject matter.
The main source of material that will be used is the his102 course slide. Then I did further research for some more information from some articles to understand the course materials better. Some articles for definitions were used besides the main material to clear and support some statements and make the discussion shorter. I have taken an analytical approach to know about the history of the subject, why was it like that? or how did that happen? That type of answer. We will be focused on how it evolved and what difference was there from one situation to another. Once the facts are laid down I will give my own opinion on it after the research.
There are multiple definitions given for slavery. Some of them are given below.
“No question is subject to more humanist mythologizing than slavery – slavery is the most extreme form of denial of the human essence, the most important attribute of which is freedom”.
“Slave production presupposes the existence of slavery as an institution –slavery is always first and foremost a legal or customary status” (ahmed).
In human history, there were various types of development in the division of labor and they shaped different types of ownership. The first form of ownership was tribal ownership. From there ancient and state ownership formed forged which is a union of several tribes into the city by agreement or by conquest and it still was accompanied by slavery. Then 3rd form came ownership is feudal or state property.
Bondage is a form of legally-sanctioned unfreedom. Then the various type of Bondage formed some various degrees of slavery-like serfdom, debt bondage, and contract bondage.
Chattel slavery is a form of bondage in which human beings are a form of property and the owner has all the right. The roman law supported fully so the owner can do what they pleased. The history of slavery began with civilization. The warfare created slaves out of the defeated side. It goes back 10000 years to Mesopotamia in Iraq where both man and woman were sold as a slave. The greek preferred woman and children and killed the male ones if they resisted. In the fifth century BC, Athens city had more slaves than free citizens. As the Roman empire spread throughout the Mediterranean region, the slave-trading business was a big business. Slaves were trained for all possible functions. The Roman emperors owned thousands of slaves. They acted as clerks, secretaries, and even tax agents. Thousands were worked to death mining gold and silver for the Empire (ahmed).
The Church in the early Middle Ages condoned slavery, opposing it only when Christians were enslaved by ‘infidels’. Vikings attacked and looted Britain from 800 AD and sold their captives to markets. Religion was no barrier to the slave-trading, all partook Christians, Muslims, and Jews. The Black Death a plague epidemic made the demand for domestic slaves soar in Italy.
Suger, cotton, and tobacco were produced by the slave. That lead to importing African slaves and about 900000 were imported by 1600. The African nations that supplied the slaves had a long history of slavery themselves. That begins the “Middle Passage” where slaves would be loaded lying down in the holds of ships, often on their sides to preserve space. The British were bringing goods from England to exchange for African slaves whom they then supplied to Spanish and Portuguese colonies in the New World. This triangular trade built Britain’s fortune (ahmed).
Africa had worked their slaves to death and they didn’t use any machinery. The slaves escaped and formed the Republic of Palmaris which lasted 70 years but in 1696 when they failed all the leaders committed suicide so they don’t have to be slaves again.
Slave revolts on any sort of scale have been few and infrequent compared with the duration of the various slave systems and the number of human beings who have suffered under them: the most notable is the First Sicilian Slave War 135 – 131 B.C., the Spartacus Uprising 73 – 71 B.C., the revolt of the Zanj under the Abbassid Caliphate and the revolution led by Toussaint L’Ouverture in Haiti (ahmed).
Serfdom is the existence-form of labor in the feudal mode production. Its essence was the transference to the use of the lord of the labor of the peasant family which was surplus to that needed for the family’s subsistence and economic reproduction (ahmed). Labor rent has often been regarded as the characteristic form of servile subordination of peasant to the lord.
Feudalism is virtually identical with what we generally mean by serfdom: an obligation laid on the producer by force and independently of his own volition to fulfill certain economic demands of an overlord, whether these demands take the form of services to be performed or of dues to be paid in money or in kind. (Dobb, 1946, p.35) (ahmed).