Slavery played a key part in Mediterranean societies in the later Middle Ages, and from 1270 to 1475 the main source of slaves for these societies was the Black Sea region. The growth of the slave trade was largely due to Genoese and Venetian settlements along the shores of the Black Sea, with Caffa and Tana becoming the main centres of the trade in humans. The documents written in these colonies provide a description of the slaves, their ethnic origins, their gender distribution, their age, and their price on the local market. To follow the trends of the slave market, one must refer to particular periods illustrated by substantial sources: Lamberto di Sambuceto’s deeds for the end of the 13th century, Benedetto Bianco’s deeds for the 1360s, the Genoese books of the Caffa Massaria for the end of the 14th and the greater part of the 15th century, as well as some 15th-century deeds from Tana. The latter sources demonstrate the decline of slavery in the Black Sea by 1475. By the end of the 15th century, the Black Sea was no longer the main supplier of slaves for the Mediterranean area.
This chapter is based mainly on documentary editions of sources from Italian archives (especially Genoa and Venice). It focuses on Christian slaves, however, rather than slaves native to the Black Sea area destined for the Egyptian market, who in all probability were not baptized and were destined for illegal traffic with the Muslims. Christian people in the Black Sea region consisted of indigenous people who were newly converted owing to Western religious policies in that area and resident Christian Orthodox clergy. The chapter examines the conditions in which slavery was allowed to flourish and it shows the importance of proselytism. The focus is on papal policies towards slavery: while the papacy was interested in converting and protecting people, they did not prevent the slavery of baptized people in this region. The chapter examines some devices the papacy used in the perpetuation of its ambiguous attitude. Specific subjects under consideration are ethnic identity, religion and enslavement, trafficking and migration, religious affiliation, and the regaining of freedom.
Although captive-taking by the Ukrainian and Don Cossacks in the Crimean Khanate and Ottoman Empire has long been evident in well-known sources stemming from Poland – Lithuania and Muscovy, for the most part this activity has been ignored or considered negligible by many historians, especially when compared with the Tatar – Ottoman slaving enterprise. Ottoman sources along with records from the above-mentioned states leave no doubt that Muslim and non-Muslim captives were a significant component of the hauls of cossack raids. Gain from ransom, both at or near the site of raids and in cossack home territories, was a clear motivating factor. The fate of captives who did not return to their native lands varied; it included concubinage/marriage, slave labour, and assimilation as free persons. In the early modern period a variety of forms of unfreedom were attested in Muscovy, the Kingdom of Poland, and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Muslim Tatars, Nogays, and Turks from the southern frontier, the unfree demographic of main interest here, were found in all three lands as de jure slaves, imprisoned de facto slaves, nearly free settlers, and persons whose degree of unfreedom was somewhere between these states. While the Don Cossacks were known to sell captives into slavery in Muscovy, less is known about the Ukrainian Cossacks, though they had a practice of donating captives to personages of high standing in Poland – Lithuania as “knightly gifts”. At present there is not enough information to make any firm conclusions as to the number of captives taken, other than that it was not insignificant but on a much smaller scale than those captured in the Tatar and Nogay slaving raids. The chapter discusses issues of categorization (ethnic, religious, geographic, occupational) and broader nomenclature (slavery versus captivity; spectra versus continua of unfreedom). The argument put forward is that, aside from Muscovy, unfreedom is a more meaningful concept than slavery in the region discussed in this study.
This chapter focuses on the structural, functional, and organizational aspects of Tatar slaving operations, as an element of the process of enslavement of human beings along the Muslim – Christian border zone in early modern East Central Europe. These slave-hunting military campaigns were shaped essentially by asymmetric warfare. The characteristic features of these population-centric military operations were the avoiding of direct clashes with regular enemy troops, the targeted killing and abductions of civilian non-combatants, and the deliberate and indiscriminate damaging of economic infrastructure and sacral architecture, mainly in rural areas. These features were all aimed at intimidating local communities and increasing the level of anxiety and panic under attack among the assaulted population. The basic architecture of Tatar slaving raids (nowadays known in military jargon as “kill chain”) included such activities as reconnaissance, detection, targeting, and striking. A typical slave-hunting operation consisted of three mutually complementary phases of action, which usually had a profile of irregular activities with diverse dynamics. The initial phase, a hidden and covert operation based on information and psychologically related actions conducted in a non-military environment, was meant to develop a beneficial situation with regard to the security behaviour of civilians and the military response that was demanded from the enemy’s headquarters. During the second phase of the operation, crucially important to the success of the whole slaving expedition, the profile and speed of action pursued by Tatar troops altered dramatically. At that point, the fundamental goal was to take as many captives as possible; this was achieved through a synergy of various functional components of the Tatar military art of war, which increased the efficiency and productivity of the slave-hunting operation. The third phase consisted of a secure evacuation of the captives and other spoils from hostile territory to safe havens that were located on the Crimean Peninsula and along the Black Sea steppes.
The introduction gives an overview of the chapters and explores questions connected to terminology and the place of the Black Sea in the study of global slavery. It also puts forward a few patterns that emerge from the contributions to this volume: the predominance of predatory raids as the main source of slaves; the frequent occurrence of short-term captivity for ransom; the importance of religious affiliation in attempts to regulate the treatment of captives or slaves (although economic and political considerations were also important); the reciprocal nature of enslavement practices across frontiers; the transmutability of roles between captors and captives; the general fluidity of border areas; and, last but not least, the fluidity of terminology and definitions.
This chapter examines the history of the trade in Polish slaves and captives in the Tatar and Ottoman Crimea in early modern times using hitherto unknown archival evidence and rare printed sources. Tatar predatory raids into Polish territory started in 1468 and ended in 1769. According to some estimates, the total number of captives seized in Poland between c.1500 and c.1700 could have been as many as a million; perhaps at least half of them were ethnic Poles. After capture Polish slaves of lowly origin were typically transported to the Crimea, where they were sold on the local slave markets. Unless they had special qualifications, they usually had to fulfil agricultural duties and do heavy manual work. Slaves usually had some limited free time and could attend Christian services in the churches of the Crimea’s large urban centres. Rich Polish captives were treated in accordance with their high social status and were ransomed for a considerable redemption fee. An important role in ransoming such rich captives was played by Jewish, Tatar, and, especially, Armenian merchants. The last Polish slaves left the Crimea after the abolition of the slave trade in the area in 1774.
In the 1830s–1850s, when the issue of the emancipation of Gypsy slaves was on the public agenda in Wallachia and Moldavia and when various categories of slave were being freed, the Orthodox Church found itself in a delicate position. On the one hand, the Church was a major slave owner; on the other it was a partner with the state in its attempts, from 1831, to gradually modernize Romanian society, a modernization that from the very beginning included the Gypsy population. The Church collaborated in this project with the governments in Bucharest and Iaşi, and some of its prelates (such as the Metropolitan Veniamin Costache in Moldavia and the Metropolitan Neofit in Wallachia) even accepted the idea of abolishing slavery. Furthermore, from among the intellectuals of the Church came some of the first voices to speak publicly against slavery, and some clerics were involved in the abolitionist movement. On 31 January/12 February 1844 in Moldavia and on 11/23 February 1847 in Wallachia laws were passed emancipating slaves who belonged to the Metropolitanate, bishoprics, monasteries, churches, and other public institutions. These Acts revealed the divergent interests within the Church: some churchmen welcomed them, while some monasteries sought to limit the losses that they imposed, asking for financial and other kinds of compensation from the state, which they sometimes obtained. At the same time, monasteries were concerned to keep their estates’ workforce, represented by their former slaves. This chapter explores the complicated array of interests and actions that the Church as an institution and its people held in the mid-19th century in relation to slaves and the abolition of slavery.
This chapter examines the phenomenon of people-taking and enslavement across the Mediterranean maritime frontier in the years 1674–1714. It is based on a close reading of case studies furnished by the captivity experiences of three British subjects: the English Levant merchant Philip Gell (1675–1676); the seaman Anthony Roberts (1692–1693); and the Scottish shipowner and master Henry Oswald (1713–1714), placing their experiences within parallel contexts of enslavement and captivity in the Black Sea region in the period under review.
In Byzantine law, as in Roman law, slaves were used to expand the economic activities of their owners. Slaves had no legal capacity, which is why legal constructions were used to allow them to take part in economic activities. The aim of this chapter is to highlight some of the legal aspects regarding the role of slaves in economic activity in Byzantium, particularly in 10th-century Constantinople. The starting point is the Book of the Eparch, a celebrated legal source providing information on the use of artisan slaves. References are also made to other legal works from the Macedonian period, the Prochiron, the Eisagoge, and the Basilica, as well as other later and lesser-known works. Finally, a relevant Novel of Leo VI the Wise is examined in relation to Christian influences.
This chapter begins by presenting Marian Małowist, a doyen of Polish historiography who in the 1930s initiated research on the Black Sea slave trade and in the 1960s launched a historiographic school whose members, mostly his students, undertook research on the Atlantic slave trade and contacts between Europeans and Africans. Małowist’s personal experience, as an Eastern European and Holocaust survivor, informed his field of interest as well as some of his judgements, although the latter changed dramatically over time. The chapter continues by comparing such aspects of the Black Sea and the Atlantic slave trade as their chronology, size and dynamics, types of slavery, impact on local societies, economies and environments, impact on the “receiving” societies and their economies, the problem of stigmatization and the position of former slaves in their adoptive societies, and, finally, the long-term effects and ways of memorizing in present-day discourse.