Page:EB1911 - Volume 25.djvu/237

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221
SLAVERY


of slaves further acted in the direction of the rehabilitation of free labour. A general movement of this kind is noticeable from the 2nd century onwards. Freemen had always been to some extent employed in the public service. In private service superior posts were often filled by freedmen; the higher arts — as medicine, grammar, painting — were partly in the hands of freedmen and even of ingenui; the more successful actors and gladiators were often freedmen. In the factories or workshops kept by wealthy persons slave labour was mainly employed; but free artisans sometimes offered their services to these estab- lishments or formed associations to compete with them. We have seen that free persons had all along been to some extent employed in the cultivation of land as hired labourers, and, as we shall presently find, also as tenants on the great estates. How all this operated we shall understand when we examine the remarkable organization of the state introduced by Diocletian and his successors. (3) This organization established in the Roman world a personal and hereditary fixity of professions and situations which was not very far removed from the caste system of the East. The purpose of this was doubtless to resist by a strong internal consolidation the shock of the invasions, to secure public order, to enforce industrious habits, and to guarantee the financial resources of the state. Personal independence was largely sacrificed, but those still more important ends were in a great measure attained. This system, by diminishing the freeman's mastery over himself and his power to determine his occupation, reduced the interval between him and the slave; and the latter on the one hand, the free domestic servant and workshop labourer on the other, both passed insensibly into the common condition of serfdom. (4) The corresponding change, in the case of the rural slaves, took place through their being merged in the order of coloni. The Roman colonus was originally a free person who took land on lease, contracting to pay to the proprietor either a fixed sum annually or (when a colonus par- liarius) a cer.tain proportion of the produce of the farm. Under the emperors of the 4th century the name designated a cultivator who, though personally free, was attached to the soil, and transmitted his condition to his descendants; and this became the regular status of the mass of Roman cultivators. The class of coloni appears to have been composed partly of tenants by contract who had incurred large arrears of rent and were detained on the estates as debtors (obaerati), partly of foreign captives or immigrants who were settled in this condition on the land, and partly of small proprietors and other poor meri who voluntarily adopted the status as an improvement in their position. They paid a fixed proportion of the produce (pars agraria) to the owner of the estate, and gave a determinate amount of labour (operae) on the portion of the domain which he kept in his own hands {mansus dominicus). The law for a long time took no notice of these customary tenures, and did not systematically constitute them until the 4th century. It was indeed the requirements of the fiscus and the conscription which impelled the imperial govern- ment to regulate the system. The coloni were inscribed (adscripli) on the registers of the census as paying taxes to the state, for which the proprietor was responsible, reimbursing himself for the amount. In a constitution of Constantine (a.d. 332) we find the colonus recognized as permanently attached to the land. If he abandoned his holding he was brought back and punished; and any one who received him had not only to restore him but to pay a penalty. He could not marry out of the domain; if he took for wife a colona of another proprietor, she was restored to her original locality, and the offspring of the union were divided between the estates. The children of a colonus were fixed in the same status. They and their descendants were retained, in the words of a law of Theodosius, " quodam aeternitatis jure," and by no process could be relieved from their obligations. By a law of Anastasius, at the end of the 5th century, a colonus who had voluntarily come into an estate was by a tenure of thirty years for ever attached to it. The master (dominus) could inflict on his coloni " moderate chastisement," and could chain them if they attempted to escape, but they had a legal remedy against him for unjust demands or injury to them or


theirs. In no case could the rent or the labour dues be increased. The colonus could possess property of his own, but could not alienate it without the consent of the master. Thus, whilst the members of the class were personally free, their condition had some incidents of a semi-servile character. They are actually designated by Theodosius, " servi terrae cui nati sunt." And Salvian treats the proposition " coloni divitum fiunt " as equi- valent to " vertuntur in servos." This is indeed an exaggeration; the colonatus was not an oppressive system; it afforded real security against unreasonable demands and wanton disturbance, and it was a great advance on the system of the familia rustica. But the point which is important is that there was a certain approximation between the condition of the colonus and the slave which tended towards the fusion of both in a single class.

Besides the coloni there were on a great estate — and those of the 4th century were on a specially large scale — a number of praedial slaves, who worked collectively under overseers on the part of the property which the owner himself cultivated. But it was a common practice to settle certain of the slaves (and possibly also of the freedmen) on other portions of the estate, giving them small farms on conditions similar to those to which the coloni were subject. These slaves are, in fact, described by Ulpian as quasi coloni. They had their own households and were hence distinguished as casati. In law these slaves were at first absolutely at the disposal of their masters; they had no property in the strict sense of the word, and could be sold to another proprietor and separated from their families. But the landlord's interest and the general tone of feeling alike modified practice even before the intervention of legislation; they were habitually continued in their holdings, and came to possess in fact a per- petual and hereditary enjoyment of them. By a law of Valen- tinian I. (377) the sale of these slaves was interdicted unless the land they occupied were at the same time sold. The legal dis- tinction between the coloni and the slave tenants continued to exist after the invasions; but the practical difference was greatly attenuated. The colonus often occupied a servile mansus, and the slave a mansus originally appropriated to a colonus. Intermarriages of the two classes became frequent. Already at the end of the 7th century it does not appear that the distinction between them had any substantial existence.

The influence of the Northern invasions on the change from slavery to serfdom was, in all probability, of little account. The change would have taken place, though perhaps not so speedily, if they had never occurred. For the developments of the Middle Ages see Serfdom and Villenage.

Modern Slave Trade. — Not very long after the disappearance of serfdom in the most advanced communities comes into sight the new system of colonial slavery, which, instead of being the spontaneous outgrowth of social necessities and subserving a temporary need of human development, was politically as well as morally a monstrous aberration.

In 1442, when the Portuguese under Prince Henry the Navigator were exploring the Atlantic coast of Africa, one of his officers, Antam Gonsalves, who had captured some Moors, was directed by the prince to carry them back colonies. to Africa. He received from the Moors in exchange for them ten blacks and a quantity of gold dust. This excited the cupidity of his fellow-countrymen; and they fitted out a large number of ships for the trade, and built several forts on' the African coast. Many negroes were brought into Spain from these Portuguese settlements, and the colonial slave trade first appears in the form of the introduction into the newly-discovered western world of descendants of these negroes. When Nicolas de Ovando was sent out in 1502 as governor of Haiti, whilst regulations, destined to prove illusory, were made for the protection of the natives of the island, permission was given to carry to the colony negro slaves, born in Seville and other parts of Spain, who had been instructed in the Christian faith. It appears from a letter of Ovando in 1503 that there were at that time numbers of negroes in Haiti; he requested that no more might be permitted to be brought out. In 1510 and the following years