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The Ragusan “Maids-of-all-Work”

Shifting Labor Relations in the Late Medieval Adriatic Sea Region

in Journal of Global Slavery
Autor:in: Juliane Schiel1
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  • 1 University of Vienna, Austria, Vienna
Open Access

Abstract

This article discusses bonded labor relations and their changes through the example of Slavic migrant workers in late medieval Ragusa (Dubrovnik). Over roughly 150 years, Ragusa changed from a site of localized, endemic labor exploitation to a commodified labor market with transregional implications. Based on a close examination of notary deeds and legislative acts, the article presents an empirically grounded approach to category formation and a careful reconstruction of the Ragusan grammar of coericon. While labels and classification systems for unskilled Slavic migrants changed over time, they remained the “maids-of-all-work”—a nonspecialist labor force that could be taken into service for a variety of tasks wherever they were needed.

Abstract

This article discusses bonded labor relations and their changes through the example of Slavic migrant workers in late medieval Ragusa (Dubrovnik). Over roughly 150 years, Ragusa changed from a site of localized, endemic labor exploitation to a commodified labor market with transregional implications. Based on a close examination of notary deeds and legislative acts, the article presents an empirically grounded approach to category formation and a careful reconstruction of the Ragusan grammar of coericon. While labels and classification systems for unskilled Slavic migrants changed over time, they remained the “maids-of-all-work”—a nonspecialist labor force that could be taken into service for a variety of tasks wherever they were needed.

In April 1281, a woman with the Slavic name Liuba, from the small village of Rudina south of Spalato (today’s Split, Croatia), entered the office of a notary public in Ragusa (today’s Dubrovnik) to confirm an arrangement hiring out her daughter Stana to a certain Jacobo of Talava for three years (dedit et locavit ad standum cum Jacobo). The daughter, who—according to the document—agreed to the arrangement, had to serve Jacobo in all he asked her to do during that time (Stana debet dictum Jacobum et res suas fideliter salvare et custodire et omnia servicia sua ad eius voluntatem facere). In return, Jacobo promised to provide the girl with food, clothes, and shoes (Jacobus debet ipsi Stane dare victum et vestitum et calciamenta convenientia). For hiring out her daughter, Liuba received two solidi (24 denarii), a sum that corresponded to the value of a cow. At the end of the three-year term, the daughter was to be set free. If the daughter committed any offense during the time of her service, however, the mother would be liable and would have to give Jacobo whatever he asked her for.1

The notary records of late medieval Ragusa are full of such entries. Ragusa, a Romance-speaking East Adriatic port city under Venetian supremacy, was an important transshipment point between the Balkans and the Mediterranean world—not only for the trade in wood and precious metals but also for unskilled migrant workers. In the second half of the thirteenth century, between 50 and 200 migrant workers from the surrounding Slavic-speaking regions were registered as servi (male) and ancillae (female) every year. Some of them sold or hired out themselves or their children, brothers, or sisters; others were kidnapped and traded by warlords, landlords, merchants, or citizens of the surrounding territories. Some remained in Ragusan households; others were exported on cargo vessels across the Adriatic Sea to Venice, Apulia, and Sicily, and even to Catalonia, Palestine, and Egypt. Several arranged a fixed-term service, sometimes even including training for a specific handicraft; others were engaged for life for unspecified services and could only become free by buying themselves out. Sometimes, but not always, the arrangements implied the transfer of a specific number of coins at the beginning or end of the period of service. Most were underage girls and boys or young unmarried women, primarily from Bosnia.2

A striking feature of the notary documents is that all these unskilled Slavs were referred to in the same way. Whether the service arrangement represented a period of youthful apprenticeship or the entry into lifetime bondage, the notaries labeled them all as servi and ancillae—umbrella terms for multiple forms of bonded labor. The urban administration also distinguished only two types of notarial act: the carta servitutis (for the act of taking someone into service) and the carta libertatis (for the act of releasing someone from service).

The situation of thirteenth-century Ragusa resonates well with recent debates in labor and social history. While the histories of slavery, servitude, serfdom, and debt bondage have long been studied separately by distinct research communities, more recent scholarship has pointed to the interrelations and grey zones between the different types of coerced labor in a particular historical setting.3 Joseph C. Miller has argued most prominently that we need to study the “processes of creating slavery” by contextualizing the (as he calls it) “slaving” strategies and experiences of the “slavers” and the “enslaved.” We need to suspend, Miller claims, “the usual virtual exclusivity of focus on the intense and tense relationship between paradigmatically dominating masters and paradigmatically dominated slaves, the all-but-defining dyad of slavery as an institution.”4 Shifts in labor relations can only be understood, others have argued, if we look at the specific set of “free” and “unfree” forms of labor exploitation and the internal dynamics within these combinations.5

This article contributes to the debate by presenting the slaving strategies and their shifts in late medieval Ragusa and their interconnectedness with the broader socioeconomic context of the Adriatic Sea. It does so by challenging the analytical language we have traditionally used to describe and distinguish forms of bondage and labor exploitation, and makes the case for an approach that takes the historical semantics of social differentiation as a starting point. It aims for a careful reconstruction of social taxonomies and their underlying grammar of coercion. Late medieval Ragusa is a particularly suitable case for this endeavor as, over approximately 150 years, a clear shift occurred in the way girls like Stana were named, classified, and treated. Until the 1280s, the Dalmatian migration policy and its practices of taking into service predetermined the way Slav migrant workers were registered and treated, but the situation complicated when Dalmatia became an integral part of the western Mediterranean economy in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. From the 1290s onward, labor exploitation in Ragusa shifted from a localized, endemic setting to more commodified forms connected to regional and supra-regional markets.

After a brief overview of forced migration from the Balkans, I present the results of an in-depth investigation of the Ragusan notary entries of the 1280s, a period immediately preceding this great shift. Then I follow the transformations of this specific setting of slaving up to the 1430s in a longitudinal analysis by comparing legislation on unskilled migrant workers and its taxonomical shifts in Ragusa, Venice and the broader trading zone of the Adriatic and Mediterranean Sea.

1 Forced Migration from the Balkans—An Overview

Before discussing the Slavic-speaking servi and ancillae of Ragusa in detail, it is important to note that they were but a small minority of the huge number of people who were kidnapped or forced to migrate from the Balkans at the time.6 Beginning in late antiquity and throughout the Middle Ages, Balkan people were kidnapped, sold, bought, and employed for all kinds of work by traders, warlords, landlords, and citizens of the surrounding principalities. As a religious border zone between the Catholic, Byzantine, and Muslim realms, the Balkans were both a political battlefield and a legal limbo, facilitating the emergence of what Jeffrey Fynn-Paul has called a “slaving zone” or “geographical area impacted by a given society’s demand for slaves.”7 In late medieval times, the kingdom of Árpád Hungary used male war captives from the Balkans for agricultural work;8 Dalmatian and Mediterranean sovereigns sought cheap, mainly female, domestic labor there;9 and Ottoman warlords brought boys and young men into the expanding Ottoman empire for military service and construction work or to serve as palace eunuchs in the state administration.10

Among those who were forced (either physically or economically) to migrate to Dalmatia and the West (and this comparatively small group is the primary focus of this paper), most stemmed from the mountainous regions of Bosnia. The reasons for this are manifold. Bosnia was characterized by a complex net of military, political, ecclesio-political, and economic dependencies and a constant but rather ineffective struggle for greater autonomy throughout the later Middle Ages. Politically, Hungarian kings and Byzantine emperors long competed for control over Bosnia, while the Bosnian bans (chiefs) stood in constant competition with Serbia and gradually tried to expand their territory and their autonomy. In 1377, with the coronation of Tvrtko I, Bosnia reached its maximum extent and was proclaimed an independent kingdom, only to enter a long decline right after the king’s death in 1391, which ended in the Ottoman conquest of 1463.11 Generally speaking, central authorities were much weaker in Bosnia than in neighboring Serbia, and in consequence, its population was less well protected from raids and kidnapping throughout the whole period.

In ecclesio-political terms, Bosnia was in a particularly precarious situation. Christianized by Roman Catholic Dalmatia and Hungary as well as Orthodox Byzantium, it was a region in which Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox traditions overlapped. The Bosnian diocese originally answered to the Latin archbishopric of Ragusa, but it remained a very remote area, difficult to access, where Roman Catholic hegemony was never strong. From the twelfth century onward, when theologians became increasingly concerned with common people’s beliefs and when the Roman Catholic Church established the Holy Inquisition to combat heresy, Christians from Bosnia came under general suspicion of heresy. In 1189, the consecration ceremony for an illiterate Bosnian bishop carried out in the Slavic vernacular provoked a controversy between the archbishop of Ragusa and his colleague in Spalato in which, step by step, the larger religious and political interests and military ambitions of Dalmatian and Bosnian rulers became entangled with the concerns of the Inquisition. When, in the course of this controversy, Dalmatian adherents of a dualistic doctrine fled from Dalmatian Spalato into Bosnia, speculation about heresy in Bosnia was further fuelled, prompting a series of crusades (1234–1239) led by expansionist Hungary. This set the stage for an enduring persecution of Bosnian Christians as heretics by the Inquisition and had long-lasting and far-reaching consequences for those being kidnapped and enslaved, lasting well into the fifteenth century.12

Economically speaking, Bosnia (together with Serbia) gained suddenly in importance when ancient mining sites for precious metals were rediscovered in the thirteenth century.13 The large deposits of silver, gold, copper, iron, lead, and other ores helped to meet the demand for precious metals, spurred by the increased use of money in western Europe, that could no longer be filled by existing mines north of the Alps.14 Yet Bosnia did not really benefit from this lucky coincidence. Exports from these mines, silver in particular, were immediately monopolized by Ragusan merchants and formed the basis for Ragusa’s rise to become the most important trade partner and transshipment point for long-distance trade on the eastern Adriatic coast. From Novo Brdo in Serbia and Srebrenica in Bosnia, the two most important mines of the Balkan region, Ragusan traders brought precious metals down the Neretva River to the Adriatic, and shipped them from Ragusa on Ragusan or Venetian ships, first to Venice and from there to other places in western Europe, north and south of the Alps.15 Most servi and ancillae from Bosnia (or Serbia) who were brought to Ragusa took the same route. Merchants of precious metals traveled side by side with kidnappers and slave traders. They may even have been the same people.

2 Unskilled Migrant Workers in Thirteenth-Century Ragusa

The forced labor migration in Ragusa was documented through the numerous cartae servitutis and cartae libertatis executed by Ragusan notaries. The officials recorded the taking into service or the release from service of Slavic migrant workers and very obviously used the same form and the same terminology to register multiple forms of bondage. In order to understand the taxonomy of social differentiation and the historical grammar of coercion of the Ragusan society, this chapter presents a three-step analysis of these cartae. It studies the language and semantic setting of these documents (a), quantifies the proportion and valence of the different labor relations summed up under the umbrella terms servi and ancillae (b), and explores the social networks of carefully selected cases of Slavic migrant workers in Ragusa (c). For this in-depth investigation, I have chosen a five-year period of notarial tradition (1280 to 1284), immediately preceding the transformation of Ragusa from a localized labor market for unskilled migrant workers to a transregional transshipment point for bonded people. The results of this analysis will help to better understand the subsequent political debates, legislative reforms and semantic shifts concerning bonded labor relations in the Adriatic Sea region.

For the period from 1280 to 1284, there are 261 known cases in which a Slavic servus or ancilla was taken into service or released from service in the presence of a Ragusan notary.16 The records of these transactions—236 involving an entry into service and 25 a release from service—were written in Latin, the administrative language of Dalmatia at the time. About 90 percent of the records in the first category concern the purchase of a Slav for life; only 10 percent concern time-limited agreements like the one between Liuba and Jacobo. About three-quarters of the entries refer to girls or unmarried women. Men (servi) sold themselves or hired themselves out more often than women (ancillae), who were mostly sold or hired out by someone else. Other than in the Mediterranean world, the Ragusan documents contain no age statements, but whenever a relative put up a child or a sibling for sale or leasing, we can assume that the servus or ancilla in question was under age.

It is very tempting to translate some of the cases dealt with in these records as “slavery” and others as “debt bondage,” “domestic servitude” or “apprenticeship agreement.” Some of the release documents seem to correspond to what we usually know as “manumission,” others read rather like an act of “ransom.” But how did the Ragusans differentiate between these different types of labor exploitation and social coercion if they used one and the same regulatory document and labelling term for all of these arrangements? What were the relevant factors of social distinction allowing some of these Slavic migrants more social mobility and gradual integration than others?

2.1 The Semantics of Coerced Labor

Much can be learned from the phraseological structure and semantic setting of the notary records dealing with servi and ancillae. Instead of applying well-established concepts and analytical categories of labor history to the complex situation of bondage in Ragusa, I argue that a more integrative view on the grammar of coercion producing and expressing asymmetrical power relations in this specific historical setting will allow a new understanding of the issue at stake. Instead of translating labels and listing abstract categories, it seems more promising to collect the verb phrases and particles positioning individuals or groups of people to each other and within the taxonomical order of these cartae.17 Based on the analysis of these “situations of word usage,” we may then be better-placed to describe and conceptualize the Ragusan forms of bondage in a more historically sensitized language of analysis.18

All notary entries recording the taking into or release from service of Slavs in Ragusa followed a strict model of standardized and constantly recurring formulations. As is mostly the case in medieval Latin, abstract terminology was completely absent in these arrangements: there were no nouns for “wage,” “hire,” “price,” or “value,” neither for “self-sale,” “sale” or “indenture.” Instead, the handing over of a person and the agreement of mutual obligations between the giving, given, and receiving parties as well as the releasing from service obligations was mainly structured and expressed by three verbs: dare (to give), debere (to have to), and recipere (to receive).

No matter if the person was violently captured or had sold him- or herself by choice, regardless of whether someone was sold for life or hired out for a certain period of time, the hypernym for all arrangements was dare. The other verbs of transaction used in the cartae (i.e. donare, vendere, emere, locare) clearly functioned as hyponyms specifying the way of “giving.”19 The same holds true for the obligations that were arranged. The service arrangement could imply a life-long or a temporarily limited obligation for the serving person in question, and the receiving party could agree on board and lodging only or on a certain mode of payment or on a skills training. Yet, the arrangement was always verbalized as a relationship of mutual, although uneven obligation in which both sides had to do or give something (debere) and, at the same time, received something from the other side. The servus or ancilla had to serve the receiving party in every respect (debet fideliter salvare et custodire et omnia servicia …; faciendi voluntatem suam in omnibus et per omnia …). In return, the other side had to provide for the survival of the serving person (debeo dare …; dabo …).20 The actual degree of asymmetry in this power relation is not expressed by a categorical distinction but through the implicit or explicit explanation and numeration of things “to receive.” While the person who took someone into service received in each and every case the discretionary power over the serving person (habeat plenam potestatem), the serving person received (recepit) food, clothing and shoes, board and lodging, and sometimes also a certain amount of coin money, skills training or equipment. Whereas the wording expressing the total power of the receiving party over the serving person was a part and parcel of each and every carta servitutis of the sample under study, the master’s obligation for board and lodging could sometimes remain implicit while in other documents the list of arrangements was very long and detailed. In general, the cartae registering the sell of a person for life tended to be more implicit in this regard, while the cartae arranging a limited period of service were often more explicit and detailed. The semantics of coerced labor, however, were always the same.

From a grammatical point of view, the most relevant marker of difference lay in the fact that some of the servi and ancillae sold or hired out themselves (direct form) while most were sold, donated or rented out by someone else (indirect form). In the direct form of service agreement, the giving and the given person were identical. In the indirect form, the acts of giving, promising, and receiving were assigned to three different parties, and the giving party could be a slave hunter, a merchant, a master, or a relative.

The documents registering a release from service, the cartae libertatis, followed the same basic structure. No matter if the person taken into service was released because someone had agreed to pay a ransom or because the serving person was rewarded for his or her long-standing fidelity and the salvation of the master’s soul, and regardless of whether the servus or ancilla was released without condition or against a certain number of coins or additional requirements or another serving person taking his or her place, the verbs dare (to give), debere (to have to), and recipere (to receive) lay again the basic structure for the arrangement. And again, a direct form of releasing someone from service can be distinguished from the indirect form. In the direct version, the master released his servus or ancilla if that person gave a certain number of coins, found a replacement, or committed to compensatory services after manumission. In the indirect version, the master set the serving person free in exchange for compensation from a third party.

2.2 The Valence of Coerced Labor

How do these semantics of coerced labor relate to the complex social realities lying behind the notarial documents? How was an agreement on a purchase for life related to an agreement on a fixed term of service in socio-economic terms? Two short prepositions within the standardized formal semantics of giving, owing, promising, and receiving may hold the key to more information. Every agreement contains either pro or usque ad followed by an indication of quantity or time. These prepositions seem to express the valence of the agreement.21 The different parties involved agreed on a certain number of coins (pro quibus solidis), a nonpecuniary service (pro cambio), and/or a certain period of time (usque ad dictos annos).

A quantitative evaluation of these valuations of quantity and time produces amazing results. The valences given in the cartae servitutis and the cartae libertatis of the early 1280s for the selling or the hiring out of a Slavic migrant seem to be interchangeable in absolute terms, no matter if the person was forcibly captured, sold him- or herself by choice or was given into service by a relative. In purchase agreements, buyers gave on average between 7.8 solidi (1280) and 10.4 solidi (1283), with individual sums ranging from 4 to 16 solidi per servus or ancilla. However, as we know from analysis of data sets stretching over a longer period, this kind of purchase agreement was usually a life-cycle phenomenon, and most of the people who were sold for lifelong service (deffinite ad mortem) were de facto released or resold after a couple of years.22

Those who were lent to someone for a fixed period of time (usque ad dictos annos) served an average of seven years in a given household, with individual cases ranging from two to twelve years. In cases in which the parties settled on a certain number of coins (to be given at either the beginning or the end of the service period), sums ranged between 0.4 and 8.0 solidi per year of service with an average of 1 solidus. Training agreements with a cloth manufacturer, a goldsmith, or a glass maker lasted for four to ten years. When the agreed training period was short, the person was usually released without equipment, but this was often provided after a longer stay.

For release from service obligations, one had to give an average of ten solidi, with individual cases ranging from six to sixteen solidi, which corresponds to the average purchase price for a new servus or ancilla. If a servus or ancilla could find someone to replace him or her, that person was accepted in lieu of the usual number of coins.

In short, no matter how Slavs from the Balkans came into a Ragusan household, or if their service engagement was permanent or temporary, they all served de facto only a few years in that household, and the services, goods, and coins the involved parties agreed upon were more or less in the same range. At the end of the thirteenth century, people in Ragusa apparently had a very clear and stable notion of the valence of unskilled workers from the Balkans and the services they were used for. The crucial question is therefore why some of them succeeded in climbing up the social ladder while others were treated and trafficked as a merchandise. What were the relevant factors forming the social taxonomy of the Ragusan society?

2.3 The Social Networks of Labor Coercion

To answer this question, I will now turn from semantic and quantitative analysis to single cases that illustrate social relations and networks on a micro level. To understand the complex interplay of forces behind these service arrangements, it is necessary to analyze the serving persons in their broader social settings—their family networks and kinship positions (if any) as well as the households in which they worked and lived.23 This reveals a stark distinction: although the different service arrangements were interchangeable in terms of valence, they were not interchangeable in terms of the serving person’s connection to kin. Those who had no family network in Ragusa—whose carta servitutis did not indicate a relative’s name and identified them only by a rough geographic origin (de Bosna, de Verbase, de Trebotich)—were all sold for life (deffinite ad mortem), even though in practice almost all of them changed households after a few years. Those with a parent or sibling in town were sometimes able to obtain a fixed-term arrangement, and the agreed number of coins were circulated not only between two individuals but within the kinship network of the servus or ancilla and the household of the master or mistress. The following examples illustrate this point.

In October 1281, two brothers from a respected cloth-making family in Ragusa, Bogdano and Marino de Predrago, took a young Bosnian boy named Dragoa into service.24 Dragoa had to serve them for six years and was promised not only food, clothes, and shoes but also training as cloth maker (Et nos dicti Bogdanus et Marinus debemus dicto Dragoe dare victum et vestitum et calciamenta convenientia et docere ipsum artem nostrum bona fide). In the document, Dragoa was described as the brother of Caloçi, who was made liable for him. If Dragoa fled, Caloçi had to bring him back, and if Dragoa stole or lied, Caloçi had to pay for his brother’s transgressions. Caloçi was probably included in the service agreement because Dragoa was still underage and it was Caloçi who placed him in the Predrago household.

About nine months later, the cloth maker took another boy into service: Smoleta de Trebotich. Smoleta had no relative in town, and Bogdano purchased him from a relative of his, Stepacia de Predrago, for five solidi.25 This was a rather modest sum, and it might be plausible to assume that the family connection between the seller and buyer played a role. However, even though a purchased servus could in other cases be more “expensive” in absolute terms than the temporarly leased daughter or sister of a Slavic migrant, this case illustrates a clear difference: serving Slavs with kin could invest their labor in at least two socioeconomic communities, that of their own kin and that of their master’s household. Dragoa served the Predrago brothers without being paid. At the same time, his brother no longer had to pay for his support, and after his six-year training he might have been able to start to work for money as a cloth maker and then support other relatives with the economic, social, and cultural capital he would have generated during his stay with the Predragos.

Another member of the Predrago family, Mathias de Predrago, released his Bosnian ancilla Dobraca in December 1282 because Dobraca’s sister Zueti gave ten solidi to ransom her sister.26 Dobraca, apparently with the consent of her former master and her sister, gave herself immediately into the service of another person—Vita Gataldi, the witness and judge of the ransom arrangement, promised Dobraca food, clothes, and shoes and two solidi, given in advance, for four years of service.27 Although two solidi for four years of service was far below average, the arrangement might have been a good opportunity for Dobraca to pay back at least part of the sum her sister Zueti had given to ransom her. But how did Zueti manage to put up ten solidi for her sister’s release?

Another case suggests a possible answer to that question. Bratusi, the daughter of the deceased Radoçi, gave herself into life-long service to Johannus de Crossio, member of another respected Ragusan family—not merely in exchange for food, clothes, and shoes but for the impressive sum of sixteen solidi.28 Maybe her deceased father or she herself carried such authority in town that Johannes was willing to hand over a comparatively large number of coins to Bratusi (pro s. dr. gross. sexdecim, quos ab eo recepi). In any case, it seems that Bratusi—although ancilla for life—had a considerable sum of capital at her disposal. As other notary deeds of the analyzed sample show, she might have used this money to ransom her children or (like Zueti) another relative, or arrange for another ancilla to replace her.29

Evidently, when a servus or an ancilla with kin received coins, skills, or tools or made new social contacts, he or she was able to reinvest this social, economic, or cultural capital to bring other family members into service or to ransom a relative.30 It seems therefore as if relatives practiced some form of joint housekeeping even though they did not necessarily live under the same roof. They acted as guarantors for each other and circulated the material and immaterial things they had received or earned for their services as needed. Relatives were also debtors and creditors of each other, and the more powerful or senior family members moved younger or female kin wherever it served the family’s (or their own) interests.

Social interdependency existed not only between the relatives of Slavic migrant workers but also between a master’s family and their serving people. Marinus de Pesegna, for example, released his Bosnian ancilla Dobrosti in February 1281, without asking her (or anyone else) for compensation.31 Instead, he agreed with his former ancilla that she would work for him during grape harvest and wine-selling every fall “without pay” (sine aliquot pretio). In return, Marinus committed himself to provide food for Dobrosti when she worked for him (ego debeam ei dare comestionem, quando vendet vinum meum, sicut est consuetudo dare tabernariis). For Marinus, Dobrosti seems not to have been replaceable by any other ancilla because she had acquired work skills and a personal reputation her former master appreciated. The conditional release might have been an attempt to bind Dobrosti permanently to the household of her former master and, at the same time, to acknowledge her services and express Marinus’s personal appreciation.

Another example shows even more clearly how complex the interdependencies between the master’s household and their serving people could be. Dimitrius de Mence released the Bosnian Dobraia from her service obligations but they agreed that she would continue to wash his hair and the hair of his sons “without pay” (sine aliquot pretio) whenever asked to do so.32 The interplay of dependencies obviously affected not only the master and his ancilla, but also the next generation (his sons) and his whole household. During her unconditional service, Dobraia had obviously become something like the Mence family’s barber and personal attendant, and they wished to be able to call on her for these services.33

From a gender perspective, these cases are particularly meaningful. Service arrangements (like the one made by the cloth-maker brothers Predrago) in which the teaching of a skill or handicraft was written down were only made with male Slavs. No ancilla was promised such training in writing. Release arrangements like those of the Pesegna and Mence families, however, show clearly that ancillae received as much training as servi in many skills needed by the master’s household. Regardless of their arrangement’s wording, both servi and ancillae became specialists in grape harvesting, stock farming, cloth manufacturing, goldsmithing—and personal care.34

Household-based analysis of the social relations of these servi and ancillae has thus shown the following: in Ragusa of the 1280s, a serving Slav with kin was not necessarily economically better off than a kidnapped person without kin. The socioeconomic capital (or potential) of a serving Slav with kin, however, was not only negotiated between that person and the prospective master or household but could also be invested profitably in the service person’s family economy.

The social relationships among the relatives of the Slavic migrant family as well as among the members of the master’s household were, of course, characterized by clear hierarchies. Parents and older siblings exercised power over unmarried women and underage members of the family. Mistresses and masters dictated most of the serving conditions. At the same time, the focus on the social dynamics within the households has shown that the servi and ancillae acted as brokers between two different economic communities. The servi and ancillae were the flexible link between the kin and the master’s household. Their socioeconomic capital was calculated according to the position (or potential) they had within and between the economic communities they lived in and worked for.35

3 Ragusa Entangled: Shifting Labor Relations in the Adriatic Area Up to the Fifteenth Century

Viewed from a wider and longer-term perspective, the Ragusan case can also contribute to a general understanding of shifts in labor relations.

In the second half of the thirteenth century, the selling, buying, and leasing of Slavic people from the Balkans was common in Ragusa but regionally limited to Dalmatia and some centers like Venice and Bari on the opposite side of the Adriatic Sea.36 The Liber Statutorum of 1272, the oldest statute book recording the customary rights of the town, contained 21 paragraphs regulating the daily interactions of Ragusan citizens with their servi and ancillae. Twenty of these paragraphs were concerned with the many ways of becoming a servus or ancilla, disciplinary actions against delinquent serving Slavs, marital law, hereditary rights, manumission practices, and the control over servi and ancillae after manumission.37 Only one paragraph dealt with the export of serving Slavs by sea.38 Obviously, purchased Slavs were an inherent part of Ragusan households by that time, but only few left Dalmatia.

About 150 years later, the purchase of trafficked people from abroad had become common in Mediterranean Europe. Although the majority of these imported serving people now came from the Crimean peninsula or from Africa, all notary records from Crete to Sicily and Aragon also mentioned Slavic people from the Balkans.39 At the end of the fourteenth century, the price of Bosnian slave women was about half that of a Circassian, Russian, or Tatarian woman, and Dalmatian and Mediterranean slaving practices had obviously become deeply entangled.40 How did this shift come about?

Toward the end of the thirteenth century, the seemingly stable situation of convertible agreements and comparable valence for servi and ancillae, outlined in the first part of this study, was thrown into turmoil. The more Ragusa monopolized the export of the rediscovered silver deposits in Bosnia and Serbia, the more its importance grew as a general trading base for the Mediterranean economy. More and more foreign merchants—first from Venice and Apulia, later also from Naples, Sicily, Aragon, and Valencia—came to Ragusa. While conducting their business, they also bought servi and ancillae—from traders at the port and directly from Ragusan citizens—and their increasing demand for serving people pushed up prices. Around 1310, the stipulated sums for these Slavs were so high that Ragusan citizens stopped purchasing them and started to make fixed-term agreements instead, whether or not these people had relatives in town. In the notary deeds of the 1310s, the ratio of purchase agreements to fixed-term agreements had inverted: about 90 percent of the servi and ancillae in Ragusa were taken into service for a fixed period (even though often several times in a row), and only 10 percent were purchased for life.41

In 1310, the Minor Council of Ragusa issued a law saying that no foreigner was allowed to take serving Slavs out of town and export them by ship without official permission certified by a Ragusan notary.42 At the same time, the Council imposed tough sanctions on Ragusans who captured or trafficked Slavs.43 In these laws, the Council used a new semantic distinction. While serving Slavs had hitherto all been called servi and ancillae, regardless of the type of service agreement, the legal and administrative language of Ragusa now distinguished between famuli, who came to Ragusa of their own accord and were trained and served in town, and sclavi, who were captured, trafficked, and exported, probably against their will.44 The latent differentiation of the 1280s between locare (“hiring out temporarily”) and vendere (“selling for a lifetime”), which had distinguished Slavic migrants with relatives temporarily hired out from kidnapped persons without relatives, had become the decisive distinction between regional labor migration and supra-regional human trafficking. As the town government sought to protect its citizens’ interests and to inhibit the outflow of cheap labor through fees and sanctions, one form of taking into service was now protected by law while the other was outlawed.

Despite these measures, the outflow of serving Slavs toward the West accelerated during the fourteenth century, and the line between legal and illegal forms of service became an open battlefield between Dalmatian port cities like Ragusa and the dominating Mediterranean Sea powers led by Venice. When Venice still controlled most of Dalmatia, the Venetian Senate forced the Ragusan Council to adjust its 1310 export ban by punishing only the export of famuli to Apulia, Venice’s main opponent in the Adriatic Sea trade.45 In the Peace Treaty of Zadar in 1358 (confirmed in 1381), however, Venice had to accept a major defeat by Hungary and the House of Anjou and lost all dominions in Dalmatia and Istria to King Louis of Hungary. At the same time, La Serenissima gained the upper hand over Genoa, its biggest maritime rival in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea area, and the import of slaves from Crimea into Europe started to flourish.46 While supra-regional competition for cheap domestic labor intensified in the second half of the fourteenth century, due to population loss during the Great Plague,47 the port cities on the eastern Adriatic coast, one by one, banned the export of Slavic workers altogether. Spalato, the other main trading partner for Venice on the east Adriatic coast, was the first, legislating in 1373 that resale and export of slaves, especially overseas, were prohibited.48

In this situation, Venice intervened with yet another semantic distinction that would affect not only Dalmatian but general European slaving practices. In the 1380s, the Venetian Senate mandated that children and adolescents originating from Slavic regions north of Corfu were no longer to be named sclavi (slaves) but anime (souls).49 Corfu lies right off the heel of the Italian boot and marks the entrance into the Adriatic Sea, the traditional home base of the Venetian sea empire.50 Apparently, Venetian authorities started to distinguish between people traded over the Ionian, Mediterranean, or Black Sea, who could still be trafficked as slaves, and contract servants from the Adriatic Sea, whose taking into service was to follow different rules. The Slavic anime were not allowed to be “sold and traded as slaves” (vendi et tractari pro sclavis). Selling them was said to be against God’s law “as they were Christians” (quia sunt christiani).51 Instead, these Slavic children and adolescents could only be taken into service for a limited period of ten years; they could not be resold or conveyed out of town, but had to stay in the same household for the whole period of service. They were also not allowed to leave the city once they were set free.52

It is certainly no coincidence that the Venetian administration invented this new classification system at a time when the political position of La Serenissima in the Adriatic Sea was weakened and access to cheap domestic labor had become highly competitive. Seeking new, indirect ways of wielding influence, Venice revitalized its image (and self-image) as protector and overlord of the Adriatic. By adopting the Dalmatian distinction between temporarily engaged migrant workers kept (and protected) in town and trafficked people traded overseas for profit, Venice suggested that bonded migrants from the other side of the culfus noster had to be better treated than those who were, from the 1380s onward, primarily imported from Central Asia, the Black Sea region, and Africa.

In this regard, the parallels with Dalmatian legislation are striking. A comparison of Spalato’s export ban of 1373 and the Venetian anime legislation of 1386 shows remarkable similarities in wording: in Spalato, nobody was allowed to take servi out of town: nulla persona, civis, habitator vel forensis, … possit … aliquem servum vel servam per mare vel per terra emere, vel vendere, alienare, portare, conducere seu mittere extra civitatem Spalati.53 Venetian senators forbade anime from leaving Venetian territory: aliquis non possit cum aliquo navigio de dictis animabus conducere vel conduci facere ad aliquas partes causa vendendi vel alienandi vel aliter dimitendi de animabus predictis … nec extrahere de Venetiis modo aliquo.54 In Spalato, exported servi were to be set free immediately (servus talis illico liber sit—“such a servus may immediately be set free”), while in Venice, anime had to be treated as free persons (quod illa anima sit libera et franca sicut debet esse—“that this anima may be at liberty and free as it must be”).55 Even the amount of the fine for breaking the law was identical in Spalato and Venice (sub pena librarum centum parvarum—“punishable by a hundred small libri”).

Similar parallels can be noted between the Ragusan tax on the export of Slavic servants and the new Venetian anime legislation. The Ragusan Liber Statutorum stated that merchants who wanted to export a sclavum vel sclavam over the sea had to pay an additional fee of one-third of a hyperpyron to the city of Ragusa for all seized servi who were taller than two cubits (about a meter—in corpore longus vel longa duobus cubitis in supra), whereas servi shorter than that could be exported free of charge.56 The 1386 order of the Venetian Senate made a similar distinction concerning the import conditions for anime: For the import of an anima older than ten years one had to pay six ducats upon arrival in Venice (pro nabullo et expensis habere debeat ab ipsis ducatos sex pro qualibet testa ab annis X supra), whereas anime younger than ten years cost half that sum.57 Obviously, in Ragusa as well as in Venice, a substantial percentage of these serving Slavs were children.58

A new element was the semantic charge of the phrasing vadat libera et franca (“walks off freely”) in the Venetian legislation. While Dalmatia’s law used this wording to merely designate the release from a service obligation, in the Venetian context the word “free” received a new, theological meaning with a moralistic overtone: anime could not be sold “like slaves” because they were Christians. Even during their temporary service these people were considered “free” Christians. In contrast, a schiava who had received a Catholic baptism soon after her arrival in a Latin household was only free when her master or mistress set her free as a charitable and pious act.

Soon after the Venetian anime legislation, the European long-distance import and use of nonspecialized service labor reached its peak. From the 1390s to the 1440s, purchased people—predominantly from Crimea, to an increasing extent from Africa, and still sometimes from the Balkans—were found in almost every urban household of means in Mediterranean Europe. From Caffa, the most important trade port in the northern Black Sea region, for example, at least 1,500 slaves left for Europe every year, and European captains received orders to load the maximum number of slaves per vessel.59 During this time, the Ragusan distinction between famuli and sclavi merged with the theologically loaded overtone of the Venetian anime legislation. Godless human trafficking for the sake of personal profit was set against the charitable taking into service of a poor soul by a Christian master for personal use.

In 1416, the Council of Ragusa forbade the trafficking in human beings in general, expressed through the two verbs “buy and sell” (emere et vendere).60 Humans were God’s creatures and made in the image of God. Doing “shady dealings” (talis mercantia) with them would “convert them into a commodity” (converti in usus mercimoniales) and treat them “as if they were savage beasts” (tamquam si essent animalia bruta). Exempted from this general ban, however, were those citizens of Ragusa who bought a servus or ancilla “for their own use” (pro uso suo).

Hardly anything could reflect this last shift better than the papal bull issued by Pope Martin V in June 1425. It is the duty of a Christian, he stated, to buy these poor souls who were put up for sale on the slave markets and wished to become Christians. For if the Christian merchants and travellers bought them “for personal use,” these poor souls would be preserved from the diabolic slavery of the Muslims and could enjoy a Christian education in a Latin household.61 This was exactly the time when the number of slaves in European households reached its climax.

4 Concluding Remarks and Research Perspectives

What does all this tell us about the use (and non-use) of slave labor in the late medieval Adriatic and its shifting interconnectedness to other, coexisting forms of bondage?

First, the terms servi, sclavi, famuli, and anime, found in the Romance-speaking part of the Adriatic Sea, were not clear-cut legal or social categories but situationally negotiated, context-dependent labels. They were “concepts in action” that reflected certain practices and could forge new social distinctions at the same time.62 They not only carried meaning but could also co-create social taxonomies and transform social realities.

Up to the 1290s, the decisive factor defining the social position of a Slavic serving person in a Ragusan household was whether he or she had relatives in town. Slavic servi and ancillae without relatives were most likely to remain in some form of lifelong bondage, while for those with relatives, service could represent an early stage in their life cycle with the possibility of modest social advancement thereafter. Male members of Slavic migrant families had the chance to enter the training system of a Ragusan handicraft and eventually become recognized as qualified skilled laborers, while female family members, notwithstanding the work experiences they acquired over the years, remained categorized as unskilled workers for life.

During the fourteenth century, when the eastern Adriatic become gradually integrated in the wider Mediterranean economy, the growing struggle between the competing sea powers for cheap domestic labor gave rise to a supra-regional controversy about legal and illegal forms of trading and taking people into service. While all potentates sought to defend the interests of their own household keepers (who were identically equal with the respective ruling patriciate, of course), domestic serving people—in Ragusa, Venice, and the wider European Mediterranean—became divided into those who had been trafficked for profit and changed hands whenever economically suitable and those who served the same master for many years, with or without pay, and became part of that household’s family.

Second, the abstract modern terms “slave” and “servant” do not help us to understand the situation in the late medieval Adriatic Sea region. What is needed instead is an empirically grounded approach to category formation. Up to the 1290s, sclavi were those servi in Ragusa who left the town by ship, but the two terms had no distinctive meaning in the taxonomical order of the time. From the 1310s onward, however, exported sclavi became clearly distinct from famuli kept in town, while Ragusan sclavi exported by sea were not sclavi but anime deserving protection in the eyes of the Venetian state. And the fate of a sclavus from the Crimean Peninsula being placed in a Christian household in southern Europe was considered fundamentally different from that of a sclavus brought to Muslim territory and converted to Islam.

On the one hand, sclavus became established as a new expression designating unskilled serving people from far afield (that is, from beyond Corfu) and was used side by side with other, older terms for serving persons. On the other hand, sclavus was used as a battle cry in the supra-regional controversy about legal and illegal forms of service, or, as Joseph C. Miller has put it, of “slaving.” What can be abstracted from these findings, however, is that all four labels (servi, sclavi, famuli, and anime) designated an unskilled laborer who could be employed for any task and lived under the discretionary power of their master. The Slavic migrants (and the purchased people from the Crimean Peninsula) whose entry into service was recorded by Romance-speaking notaries of the Adriatic and the Mediterranean world, were the “maids-of-all-work” of the Christian households.

To understand how slaving practices appeared, disappeared, transformed, and reappeared over time and space, we need to follow these “maids-of-all-work,” not only to the west but also to the east, not only to the south but also to the north. Once we have traced the ways of these Bosnian Dragoas and Dobracas not only to Dalmatia and Venice but also to the Ottoman military schools and the cotton plantations in the eastern Mediterranean, the fields of Árpád Hungary, and the handicraft businesses north of the Alps, we may start to delineate distinct social patterns and grammars of coercion.

Acknowledgments

This article owes much to the intense exchanges I have had with the 2017/18 fellows of the International Research Center Re:Work in Berlin, the members of the working group Free and Unfree Labour of the European Labour History Network, and the members of HiSem, a small group of medievalists concerned with historical semantics. I am particulary grateful to Joseph C. Miller with whom I discussed the latest version of this text, only a few months before he passed away. Finally, I thank Amanda Morgan for scrupulous language editing.

1

Dubrovački arhiv, Dubrovnik, Deb. Not. I. fol. 49v.; Gregor Čremošnik, Acta Cancellariae et Notariae Annorum 1278–1301 (Belgrade, 1932), 46–47, no. 79 (19 April 1281).

2

For earlier studies on the servi and ancillae of Ragusa, see Bariša Krekić, ed., Dubrovnik, Italy and the Balkans in the Late Middle Ages (London: Variorum Reprints, 1980); Susan Mosher Stuard, “Urban Domestic Slavery in Medieval Ragusa,” Journal of Medieval History 9 (1983): 155–171; Susan Mosher Stuard, “To Town to Serve: Urban Domestic Slavery in Medieval Ragusa,” in Barbara A. Hanawalt, ed., Women and Work in Preindustrial Europe (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1986), 39–55; Neven Budak, “Slavery in Late Medieval Dalmatia/Croatia: Labour, Legal Status, Integration,” Mélanges de l’ école française de Rome 112 (2000): 745–760, here especially 757–759. For comparable purchase contracts in Dalmatian Zara, see transcriptions by Antonio Teja, “Aspetti della vita economica di Zara dal 1289 al 1409: La schiavitù domestica e il traffico degli schiavi,” La Rivista Dalmatica NS 21 (1941), 20–57; 22 (1941): 20–44; 23 (1942): 33–45.

3

An early articulation of this standpoint was offered by Robert J. Steinfeld and Stanley L. Engerman, “Labor—Free or Coerced? A Historical Reassessment of Differences and Similarities,” in Tom Brass and Marcel van der Linden, eds., Free and Unfree Labour: The Debate Continues (Bern: Lang, 1997), 107–126. Today most prominently see Alessandro Stanziani, Bondage: Labor and Rights in Eurasia from the Sixteenth to the Early Twentieth Centuries (New York and Oxford: Berghahn, 2014), and Marcel van der Linden, Workers of the World: Essays toward a Global Labour History (Leiden: Brill, 2011).

4

Joseph C. Miller, The Problem of Slavery as History: A Global Approach (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2012), here especially ix, 2, 18–19.

5

Most recently see Christian De Vito, Juliane Schiel, and Matthias van Rossum, “From Bondage to Precariousness? New Perspectives on Labor and Social History,” Journal of Social History 54, no. 2 (2020): 1–19. See also Marcel van der Linden, “Dissecting Coerced Labour,” in Marcel van der Linden and Magaly Rodríguez García, eds., On Coerced Labor: Work and Compulsion after Chattel Slavery (Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2016), 293–322.

6

For the broader context and the general situation in the Balkans at the time, I fully rely on secondary literature. As I do not (yet) read Slavic languages, I can unfortunately only consider those publications of my Slavic colleagues that are written in a Western European language. I am aware that the younger generation of Slavophone scholars has produced an impressive body of new scholarship on the Balkans, and cooperation is needed to reduce the existing language barriers.

7

Jeffrey Fynn-Paul, “Empire, Monotheism and Slavery in the Greater Mediterranean Region from Antiquity to the Early Modern Era,” Past and Present 205 (2009): 3–40, here especially 4. On the Balkans as a contested border zone, see most recently Emir O. Filipović, “The Key to the Gate of Christendom? The Strategic Importance of Bosnia in the Struggle Against the Ottomans,” in Norman Housley, ed., The Crusade in the Fifteenth Century: Converging and Competing Cultures (London: Routledge, 2017), 151–168; also still relevant: Mihailo Dinić, “The Balkans, 1018–1499,” in Joan M. Hussey, ed., The Cambridge Medieval History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1966), vol. 4, part 1, 519–565.

8

Cameron Sutt, Slavery in Árpád-Era Hungary in a Comparative Context (Leiden: Brill, 2015), here especially 111–113.

9

For human trafficking in Dalmatia and the Adriatic Sea, see most recently Marcello Mignozzi, “Schiave dai Balcani tra XI e XIII secolo,” Studi medievali 67 (2016): 129–160. Still relevant: Vincenzo Lazari, “Del traffico e delle condizioni degli schiavi in Venezia nei tempi di mezzo,” Miscellanea di Storia Italiana 1 (1862): 463–501, here 487–491; Charles Verlinden, “L’ esclavage sur la côte dalmate au bas moyen âge,” Bulletin de l’ Institut Historique Belge de Rome 41 (1970), 57–140; Charles Verlinden, “Patarins ou bogomiles réduits en esclavage,” in Alberto Moravia, ed., Studi in onore di Alberto Pincherle (Rome: Ed. dell’Ateneo, 1967), vol. 2, 683–700; Francesco Panero, Schiavi, servi e villani nell’ Italia medievale (Torino: Paravia/Scriptorium, 1999), ch. 9.5. For (labor) migration from the Balkans toward the west more generally, see Oliver J. Schmitt, “Venezianische Horizonte der Geschichte Südosteuropas: Strukturelemente eines Geschichtsraums in Mittelalter und Früher Neuzeit,” Südost-Forschungen 65, no. 6 (2006/2007): 87–116, here especially 92–109; Ermanno Orlando, Migrazioni mediterranee: Migranti, minoranze e matrimoni a Venezia nel basso Medioevo (Bologna: Società editrice Il mulino, 2014); Brunehilde Imhaus, Le minoranze orientali a Venezia 1300–1510 (Rome: Il Veltro ed, 1997).

10

Emir O. Filipović, “The Ottoman Conquest and the Depopulation of Bosnia in the Fifteenth Century,” in Srđan Rudić and Selim Aslantaş, eds., State and Society in the Balkans before and after Establishment of Ottoman Rule (Belgrade: The Institute of History Belgrade, 2017), 79–101; Oliver J. Schmitt, “Der Balkan zwischen regionaler Herrschaftsbildung und osmanischer Eroberung (ca. 1300–ca. 1500): Strukturgeschichtliche Zusammenhänge und frühosmanische Machtkonsolidierung,” in Online-Handbuch zur Geschichte Südosteuropas, https://hgsoe.ios-regensburg.de/fileadmin/doc/texte/Band1/Oliver_Jens_Schmitt_Strukturgeschichte_Teil1.pdf (last accessed on September 21, 2018); Géza Dávid and Pál Fodor, eds., Ransom Slavery along the Ottoman Borders (Early Fifteenth–Early Eighteenth Centuries) (Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2007).

11

Dubravko Lovrenović, “The Ottoman Conquest of Bosnia in 1463 as Interpreted by Bosnian Franciscan Chroniclers and Historiographers,” in Oliver J. Schmitt, ed., The Ottoman Conquest of the Balkans (Vienna: Verlag der österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2016), 243–264; Emir O Filipović, “Ardet ante oculos opulentissimum regnum … Venetian Reports about the Ottoman Conquest of the Bosnian Kingdom, A.D. 1463,” in Iulian Mihai Damian, ed., Italy and Europe’s Eastern Border (1204–1669) (Frankfurt am Main and Vienna: Lang, 2012), 135–155.

12

Dubravko Lovrenović, “Das mittelalterliche Bosnien: Eine politische Bühne des ‘Mikrochristentums,’ ” in Martina Thomsen, ed., Religionsgeschichtliche Studien zum östlichen Europa (Stuttgart: Franz Steiner, 2017), 69–86; John V.A. Fine, The Bosnian Church: Its Place in State and Society from the Thirteenth to the Fifteenth Century—A New Interpretation (London: Saqi, 2007); Manuel Lorenz, “Bogomilen, Katharer und bosnische ‘Christen’: Der Transfer dualistischer Häresien zwischen Orient und Okzident (11.–13. Jh.),” in Balazs J. Nemes and Achim Rabus, eds., Vermitteln—Übersetzen—Begegnen: Transferphänomene im europäischen Mittelalter und in der Frühen Neuzeit: Interdisziplinäre Annäherungen (Göttingen: V&R Unipress, 2011), 87–136.

13

Desanka Kovacevic-Kojic, “Les métaux précieux de Serbie et de Bosnie: Estimation de la production (XIVe–XVe siècle),” in Rudolf Tasser, Ekkehard Westermann, and Gustav Pfeiffer, eds., Der Tiroler Bergbau und die Depression der europäichen Montanwirtschaft im 14. und 15. Jahrhundert (Innsbruck: Studienverlag, 2004), 87–93; Desanka Kovacevic-Kojic, La Serbie et les pays serbes: L’ économie urbaine XIVXVe siècles (Belgrade: Maison Serbe, 2012). Still relevant: Konstantin Jireček, Die Handelsstrassen und Bergwerke von Serbien und Bosnien während des Mittelalters: Historisch-geographische Studien (Prague: Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften, 1879); Krekić, Dubrovnik, Italy and the Balkans, 413–429.

14

Ekkehard Westermann, “Zur spätmittelalterlichen Depression der europäischen Montanwirtschaft: Stand und offene Fragen der Forschung,” in Tasser, Der Tiroler Bergbau, 9–18.

15

Jorjo Tadić, “Les archives économiques de Raguse,” Annales: Histoire, Sciences Sociales 16, no. 6 (1961): 1168–1175.

16

I rely here on Čremošnik, Acta Cancellariae. Čremošnik may not have incorporated all cases to be found in the state archive of Dubrovnik. Also, we need to keep in mind that, at the time, a written document was not required for a transaction to be legally binding; the notarial act functioned rather as a confirmation of an oral agreement, which could be useful for the contracting parties in future business transactions. Yet the documents included in Čremošnik’s edition are clearly numerous enough to show a representative picture of the situation at the time.

17

For important contributions to the semantic approach in labor and social history see: Kostas Vlassopoulos, “Greek Slavery. From Domination to Property and Back Again,” Journal of Hellenic Studies 131 (2011): 115–130; Ludolf Kuchenbuch, Reflexive Mediävistik: Textus, Opus, Feudalismus (Frankfurt am Main: Campus, 2012); Juliane Schiel and Stefan Hanß, “Semantics, Practices and Transcultural Perspectives on Mediterranean Slavery,” in Stefan Hanß and Juliane Schiel, eds., Mediterranean Slavery Revisited (500–1800) / Neue Perspektiven auf mediterrane Sklaverei (500–1800) (Zürich: Chronos, 2014), 11–24; Patrice Beck et al., “Salarium, stipendium, dieta … Approche terminologique de la rémunération du travail,” in Patrice Beck, Philippe Bernardi, and Laurent Feller, eds., Rémunérer le travail: Pour une histoire sociale du salariat (Paris: Picard, 2014), 149–241; Jörn Leonhard and Willibald Steinmetz, eds. Semantiken von Arbeit: Diachrone und vergleichende Perspektiven (Cologne, Weimar, and Vienna: Böhlau, 2016).

18

Ludolf Kuchenbuch and Uta Kleine, eds., Textus im Mittelalter. Komponenten und Situationen des Wortgebrauchs im schriftsemantischen Feld, Göttingen 2006.

19

In the case of a purchase, the verb of transaction was mostly vendere (“to sell”), but often accompanied by dare (“to give”). In the case of a fixed-term arrangement, the first verb of transaction was dare (“to give”), often combined with locare (“to hire”).

20

In the case of a fixed-term arrangement, the list of obligations for the receiving party was generally much more explicit and detailed than in the case of a purchase.

21

Again, I try to avoid an identification of the social meaning of these two prepositions with the modern concept of “value” and am therefore intentionally using the less common word “valence.”

22

An extended analysis of Ragusan notary deeds prior to 1290 may show clearly that the same person who was purchased for life was manumitted a couple of years later. See also Neven Budak, “Slavery in Renaissance Croatia: Reality and Fiction,” in Hanß and Schiel, Mediterranean Slavery, 75–96. For general reflections on life cycle phenomena in labor history, see Josef Ehmer, “The ‘Life Stairs’: Aging, Generational Relations and Small Commodity Production in Central Europe,” in Tamara K. Hareven, ed., Ageing and Generational Relations over the Life Course: A Historical and Cross Cultural Perspective (Berlin and New York: De Gruyter, 2012), 53–74.

23

For this analytical step, I rely on pioneering work by gender historians on the role of the household in labor relations, beginning with Joan Smith and Immanuel Wallerstein, eds., Creating and Transforming Households: The Constraints of the World-Economy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992). For recent conceptualizations of the household, see Joachim Eibach, “Das offene Haus: Kommunikative Praxis im sozialen Nahraum der europäischen Frühen Neuzeit,” Zeitschrift für Historische Forschung 38 (2011): 621–664; Maria Ågren, Making a Living, Making a Difference: Gender and Work in Early Modern European Society (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017), here especially 6–8.

24

Dubrovački arhiv, Deb. Not. I. fol. 79r.; Čremošnik, Acta Cancellariae, 69–70, no. 160 (30 January 1281).

25

Dubrovački arhiv, Div. Canc. I. fol. 99r; Čremošnik, Acta Cancellariae, 85, no. 217 (25 July 1282).

26

Dubrovački arhiv, Div. Canc. I. fol. 110v.; Čremošnik, Acta Cancellariae, 97, no. 273 (4 December 1282).

27

Dubrovački arhiv, Div. Canc. I. fol. 110v.; Čremošnik, Acta Cancellariae, 97–98, no. 274 (3 December 1282).

28

Dubrovački arhiv, Deb. Not. I. fol. 41r.; Čremošnik, Acta Cancellariae, 44, no. 67 (21 February 1281).

29

See for example Čremošnik, Acta Cancellariae, 42, no. 60 (2 January 1281); 66–67, no. 144; 82, no. 209 (16 July 1282); 106–107, no. 306 (22 June 1283).

30

Pierre Bourdieu, “The Forms of Capital,” in John G. Richardson, ed., Handbook of Theory and Research for the Sociology of Education (New York: Greenwood Press, 1986), 241–258.

31

Dubrovački arhiv, Deb. Not. I. fol. 38r.; Čremošnik, Acta Cancellariae, 42–43, no. 61 (13 January 1281).

32

Dubrovački arhiv, Div. Canc. I. fol. 122v.; Čremošnik, Acta Cancellariae, 101–102, no. 288 (24 March 1283).

33

The practice of masters asking their former servi and ancillae to work for them resonates well with a paragraph in the Liber Statutorum, the oldest legal text of Ragusa, according to which manumitted servants could be required to work for their former masters, for example in harvest season or in times of war. Valtazar Bogošić and Constantin Jireček, eds., Liber statutorum civitatis Ragusii compositus anno 1272: Cum legibus aetate posterior insertis atque cum summariis, adnotationibus et scholiis a veteribus juris consultis Ragusinis additis (Zagreb: s.n., 1904), VI, 47, § 1–3.

34

Future archival work could try to follow these biographies in parallel sources such as court papers, marriage registers, and census records in order to further explore the complex relation between gender and labor exploitation in late medieval Ragusa. For excellent examples of research on the relations between issues of slavery, labor, dependency, kinship, gender, and the human life course in Africa, see Gwyn Campbell, Suzanne Miers, and Joseph C. Miller, eds., Women and Slavery, Vol. I: Africa, the Indian Ocean World, and the Medieval North (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2007); Pamela Scully and Iana Paton, Gender and Slave Emancipation in the Atlantic World (Durham: Duke University Press, 2005).

35

On the analysis of scopes of agency and interagency of those serving people through administrative documents, see a methodological reflection in Juliane Schiel, Isabelle Schürch, and Aline Steinbrecher, “Von Sklaven, Pferden und Hunden: Trialog über den Nutzen aktueller Agency-Debatten für die Sozialgeschichte,” Schweizerisches Jahrbuch für Wirtschafts- und Sozialgeschichte/Annuaire suisse d’ histoire économique et sociale 32 (2017): 17–48.

36

In addition to the notary deeds analyzed above, thirteenth century Ragusan marriage contracts may illustrate the taking into service of Slavs as common practice. Here, servi and ancillae were regularly mentioned as dowry of middle- and upper-class citizens. See Stuard, “Urban Domestic Slavery,” 156.

37

Bogošić and Jireček, Liber statutorum, I, 12; III, 12; III, 46; III, 58; IV, 17; VI, 42–53; VII, 19–20; VII, 27. On the Liber statutorum, see also Budak, “Slavery in Late Medieval Dalmatia/Croatia,” 757–759.

38

Bogošić and Jireček, Liber statutorum, I, 14.

39

For the renaissance of the Mediterranean slave trade, still relevant: Charles Verlinden, L’ esclavage dans l’ europe médiévale, 2 vols. (Gent: Rijksuniversiteit, 1977); Michel Balard, Gênes et l’ outre-mer, 2 vols. (Paris: La Haye, 1973–1980); Sergej P. Karpov, L’impero di Trebisonda: Venezia, Genova e Roma, 1204–1461—Rapporti politici, diplomatici e commerciali (Rome: Il Veltro editrice, 1986). Important recent publications on the topic include Steven Epstein, “Slaves in Italy, 1350–1550,” in Stephen J. Milner, ed., At the Margins: Minority Groups in Premodern Italy (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2005), 219–235; Giovanna, Fiume, Schiavitù mediterranee: Corsari, rinnegati e santi di età moderna (Milan: B. Mondadori, 2009); Fabienne P. Guillén and Salah Trabelsi, eds., Les esclavages en Méditerranée: Espaces et dynamiques économiques (Madrid: Casa de Velazquez, 2012); Hanß and Schiel, Mediterranean Slavery; Reuven Amitai and Christoph Cluse, eds. Slavery and the Slave Trade in the Eastern Mediterranean (c. 1000–1500) (Turnhout: Brepols, 2017).

40

See for example the important study on the records of the Venetian notary Marco Raffanelli (1388–1398) led by Bariša Krekić, “Contributo allo studio degli schiavi levantini e balcanici a Venezia (1388–1398),” in Luigi De Rosa, ed., Studi in memoria di Federigo Melis (Naples: Giannini Editore, 1978), vol. 2, 379–394, on Bosnian women see here especially 391–392.

41

Stuard, “Urban Domestic Slavery.”

42

Aleksandar V. Solovjev, ed., Liber Omnium Reformationum Civitatis Ragusii (n.p., 1936), IV, 11 (2 January 1310).

43

Solovjev, Liber Omnium, II, 21 (10 May 1335); XII, 10 (13 February 1340).

44

On the changing terminology, and the new term sklabos, see Helga Köpstein, “Zum Bedeutungswandel von sklabos/slavus,” Byzantinische Forschungen 7 (1979): 67–88.

45

Liber Omnium, VII, 5 (25 May 1320); VII, 9 (6 February 1325).

46

Jean-Claude Hocquet, Venise et la mer, XIIe–XIIIe siècle (Paris: Fayard, 2006).

47

Fynn-Paul, “Empire, Monotheism and Slavery.” In the literature, the rise of slave imports into southern Europe in the second half of the fourteenth century is usually associated with the Great Plague and the severe lack of labor. So far, however, empirical studies investigating the interrelation between population losses and the import of a new workers are still missing.

48

Teja, “Aspetti della vita economica di Zara,” here especially 31–33; Verlinden, “L’ esclavage sur la côte dalmate,” here 65–68; Budak, “Slavery in Late Medieval Dalmatia/Croatia,” here 756–757. Budak assumes, however, that the former slave trade continued to exist as smuggling.

49

The Venetian Senate issued two laws: a first in 1386, prohibiting the sale of people from north of Corfu as schiavi, and a second in 1388, in which trading and working conditions for those now called anime were elaborated and adjusted. See Archivio di Stato di Venezia, Capitolare del magistrato capitum sexteriorum, fol. 25. A later copy with small variations written on paper may be found in Archivio di Stato di Venezia, Signori di Notte al Civil, book 1, capitulary A, fol. 23r.–24v. (22 November 1386), together with a later affirmation of the decree: Ibid., fol. 5v.–6r. (27 April 1453). A transcription of all Venetian anime legislation dating from the 1380s can be found in Verlinden, L’ esclavage, vol. 2, 674–679. See also Charles Verlinden, “La législation vénitienne du bas moyen âge en matière d’ esclavage (XIIIe–XVe siècles),” in Luigi De Rosa, ed., Ricerche storiche ed economiche in memoria di Corrado Barbagallo (Naples: Ed. scientifiche italiene, 1970), vol. 2, 149–172, here especially 154–160. For the Venetian legislation concerning domestic workers in general, see also Dennis Romano, “The Regulation of Domestic Service in Renaissance Venice,” The Sixteenth Century Journal 22 (1991): 661–677.

50

Despite constant quarrels with other expansionist powers like Árpád Hungary and the House of Anjou, Venetians used to call the Adriatic “our gulf” (culfus noster) and tried to build their sea power and their growing colonial realm (Stato da Mar) on a trade monopoly with Istria and Dalmatia. Frederic C. Lane, Venice: A Maritime Republic (Baltimore, John Hopkins University Press, 1973), especially 24, 26; Schmitt, “Venezianische Horizonte der Geschichte Südosteuropas”; Oliver Jens Schmitt, Das venezianische Albanien (1392–1479) (Munich: Oldenbourg, 2001); Oliver Jens Schmitt, “Le commerce vénitien dans l’ Albanie vénitienne: mécanismes et conjonctures d’ un espace économique au XVe siècle,” Annuario de Estudios Medievales 33, no. 2 (2003), 881–903; Gherardo Ortalli and Oliver Jens Schmitt, eds., Balcani occidentali, Adriatico e Venezia fra XIII e XVIII secolo/Der westliche Balkan, der Adriaraum und Venedig (13.–18. Jahrhundert) (Vienna: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2009); Stephan Sander-Faes, Urban Elites of Zadar: Dalmatia and the Venetian Commonwealth (1540–1569) (Rome: Viella, 2013).

51

Similar to Byzantium, where the Greek equivalent psycharion was traditionally used to designate child slaves, Venice started to refer to the mainly underage people from the Balkans employed in Venetian households as “souls.” Given that Venice was originally under the rule of Byzantium, and that Greek traditions and connections to the Eastern Roman Empire remained strong, it might well be that the Venetian administration derived its new label from the Greek term psycharion. On the Byzantine tradition of calling child slaves “souls,” see Günter Prinzing, “On Slaves and Slavery,” in Paul Stephenson, ed., The Byzantine World (London and New York: Routledge, 2010), 92–102. On the strong connection between Venetian and Byzantine traditions, see Chryssa Maltezou and Gherardo Ortalli, eds., Italia—Grecia: temi e storiografia a confronto (Venice: s.n., 2001); Neven Budak, “Die Adria von Justinian bis zur Venezianischen Republik—Wandlungen in Verkehrsrichtungen,” Saeculum 56 (2005): 199–213.

52

Archivio di Stato di Venezia, Signori di Notte al Civil, book 1, capitulary A, fol. 23r.–24v. (22 November 1386); Verlinden, L’ esclavage, 674–676. See also Susan Stuard, “Qui notus est de ancilla mea,” in Kenneth Pennington, Stanley Chodorow, and Keith H. Kendall, eds., Proceedings of the Tenth International Congress on Medieval Canon Law, Syracuse 1996 (Vatican City: Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, 2001), 653–673.

53

Teja, “Aspetti della vita economica di Zara,” here 31: “Nobody, be he burgher, resident or stranger, may buy or sell, give away, bring, take or send a servus or serva across the sea or overland outside the town of Spalato” (my translation).

54

Archivio di Stato di Venezia, Capitolare del magistrato capitum sexteriorum, fol. 25; ibid., Signori di Notte al Civil, book 1, capitulary A, fol. 23r.–24v. (22 November 1386); Verlinden, L’ esclavage, 674–676: “Nobody may take from the abovementioned anime and convey them or make them convey or export them in whatever mode with whichever vessel to any place outside the Republic of Venice with the intention of selling, giving away or otherwise dismissing these anime” (my translation).

55

For Spalato, see Teja, “Aspetti della vita economica di Zara,” 31; for Venice, see Archivio di Stato di Venezia, Capitolare del magistrato capitum sexteriorum, fol. 25; ibid., Signori di Notte al Civil, book 1, capitulary A, fol. 23r.–24v. (22 November 1386); Verlinden, L’ esclavage, 674–676.

56

Liber statutorum, I,14.

57

Archivio di Stato di Venezia, Capitolare del magistrato capitum sexteriorum, fol. 25; ibid., Signori di Notte al Civil, book 1, capitulary A, fol. 23r.–24v. (22 November 1386); Verlinden, L’ esclavage, 674–676.

58

Neven Budak, “Struktura i uloga obitelji serva i famula u komunalnim društvima na istočnom jadranu,” Starohrvatska prosvjeta 14 (1984): 347–359; Budak, “Slavery in Late Medieval Dalmatia/Croatia,” 755.

59

In 1441, a Genoese statute proclaimed that a vessel with only one loading bridge might transport up to 30 slaves, whereas those with two or three loading bridges were allowed to take up to 45 or 60 slaves on board. Cf. Charles Verlinden, “La colonie vénitienne de Tana, centre de la traite des esclaves au XIVe et au début du XVe siècle,” in Studi in onore di Gino Luzzatto (Milan: Giuffrè, 1950), vol. 2, 1–21; Krekić, “Contributo allo studio degli schiavi”; Michael E. Martin, “The Venetians in the Black Sea: A General Survey,” Byzantinistica 3 (1993): 227–248, here 241.

60

Radovan Samardžić, Liber Viridis (1358–1460) (Belgrad: Srpska akademija nauka i umetnosti, 1984), ch. 162 (27 January 1416).

61

S. Franco, H. Fory, and H. Dalmazzo, eds., Bullarium Romanum. 24 vols. (n.p., 1857–1882), vol. 4, 718–721 (nos. 16–17, 3 June 1425), see here especially no. 17, 720–721.

62

For the semantic approach to studying “concepts in action,” see Ludolf Kuchenbuch, “Dienen als Werken: Eine arbeitssemantische Untersuchung der Regel Benedikts,” in Leonhard and Steinmetz, eds., Semantiken von Arbeit, 63–92.

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