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till the fifth century, to encourage their slaves to become clergymen, that they, in preference to strangers, might receive their benefices. Slaves were fully protected, in the exercise of worship, and, to a certain extent, in the observance of religious festivals. The liberty and gambols of the Saturnalia were transferred to Christmas. If a Christian slave fell into the hands of a heathen master, the latter was prohibited from interfering with his spiritual concerns. Judaism was looked upon with such horror, that any Christian was entitled to force a Jewish master to sell to him a Christian slave.

Augustus restrained the right of indiscriminate and unlimited manumission. Antoninus empowered the judge, who should be satisfied about the slave's complaint of ill treatment, to force the master to sell him to some other owner. The master's power of life and death over his slaves was first sought to be legally abolished by Adrian and Antoninus Pius. Constantine placed the wilful murder of a slave on a leve with that of a freeman, and expressly included the case of a slave who died under punishment, unless it was inflicted with the usual instruments of correction. The effect of this humane law was, however, done away by a subsequent enactment of Constantine. Several councils of the Church endeavored to repress slavemurder, by threatening the perpetrators with temporary excommunication.* Adrian suppressed the work-houses for the confinement of slaves. Several humane laws were enacted by Constantine in relation to the separation of families. One directs that property shall be so divided, "ut

* "Et in pluribus quidem conciliis statutum est, excommunicationi, vel pœnitentiæ biennii, esse subjiciendum, qui servum proprium sine conscientiâ judicis occidint." — Muratori.


integra apud possessorem unumquemque servorum agnatio permaneat." Another law says, "ut integra apud successorem unumquemque servorum, vel colonorum adscriptitiæ conditionis, seu inquilinorum proximorum agnatio, vel adfinitas permaneat." A Christian church afforded very great safety from the wrath of unmerciful owners; for when a slave took refuge there, it became the duty of the ecclesiastics to intercede for him with his master, and, if the latter refused to pardon the slave, they were bound not to give him up, but to let him live within the precincts of the sanctuary, till he chose to depart, or his owner granted him forgiveness. In Christian times, the ceremony of manumission, which was performed in church, particularly at Easter, and other festivals of religion, was considered the most regular mode of emancipation, and came to displace, in a great measure, the other forms. This mode was introduced and regulated by three laws of Constantine; † but it was not

The different modes of manumission were the following: 1. Vindicta, the pronouncing of a form of words by the owner before the prætor. 2. Census, enrolment in the censor's books. 3. Testamentum, by will. 4. Epistolam, by letter. 5. Per convivium, at the banquet. 6. By the master designedly calling the slave his son. 7. By actual adoption. 8. Leave given to a slave to subscribe his name as witness. 9. Attiring a slave in the insignia of a freeman, etc.

† The following is the rescript of Constantine: "Qui religiosa mente in ecclesiæ gremio servulis suis meritam concesserint libertatem, eandem eodem jure donasse videantur, quo civitas Romana solennitatibus decursis dari consuevit. Sed hoc duntaxat iis, qui sub aspectu antistitum dederint, placuit relaxari. Clericis autem amplius concedimus, ut, cum suis famulis tribuunt libertatem, non solum in conspectu ecclesiæ ac religiosi populi plenum fructum libertatis concessisse dicantur, verum etiam cum postremo judicio libertates dederint, seu quibuscunque verbis dari præceperint; ita ut ex die publicatæ voluntatis, sine aliquo juris teste vel interprete, competat directa libertas."

adopted over the whole Empire at once, as, nearly one hundred years afterwards, the Council of Carthage, A. D. 401, resolved to ask of the Emperor authority to manumit in church. The request was granted. Augustine, in one of his sermons, mentions the formalities thus observed in conferring freedom.* After the establishment of Christianity as a national religion, when heresy came to be dreaded as much as treason, the testimony of slaves was received equally in respect to matters relating to their own interests and to those of their masters. The Church did not openly maintain the validity of slave nuptials for many years. Attempts of free persons to form marriages with slaves were severely punished. Justinian removed most of the obstacles which preceding emperors had placed in the way of manumission. Slavery did not cease, however, till a comparatively late period. ‡

Augustine, in another place, holds the following language: "Non oportet Christianum possidere servum quomodo equum aut argentum. Quis dicere audeat, ut vestimentum eum debere contemni? Hominem namque homo tamquam seipsum diligere debet, cui ab omnium Domino, ut inimicos diligat, imperatur."

"The Emperor Basilius allowed slaves to marry, and receive the priestly benediction; but this having been disregarded, Alexius Comnenus renewed the permission. It seems to have been thought either that the benediction gave freedom, or ought to be followed by it."Blair. See Justin. Græco-Roman. Lib. II. 5.

The authorities on the general subject, which we have consulted, are the different codes of Roman law; Gibbon; two Essays of M. de Burigny, in Vols. XXXV. and XXXVII. of Mémoires de l'Academie des Inscriptions; and Blair's Inquiry into the State of Slavery among the Romans, Edinburgh, 1833, a valuable work. In nearly all the facts which we have quoted from him, we have referred to the original authorities. We have made a personal examination of nearly all the extant Latin authors, including the historians of Byzantium, and the early writers and fathers of the Christian Church.


BEFORE the conclusion of the fifth century, the Roman Empire in all the West of Europe was overthrown by the Northern barbarous nations. The Vandals were masters of Africa; the Suevi held part of Spain; the Visigoths held the remainder, with a large portion of Gaul; the Burgundians occupied the provinces watered by the Rhone and Saone; the Ostrogoths, nearly the whole of Italy. Among these barbarous nations involuntary servitude, in various forms, seems to have existed. Tacitus de Moribus Germanorum, XXV., says: "The slaves in general were not arranged at their several employments in the household affairs, as is the practice at Rome. Each has his separate habitation, and his own establishment to manage. The master considers him as an agrarian dependent, who is obliged to furnish a certain quantity of grain, of cattle, or of wearingapparel. The slave obeys, and the state of servitude extends no further. All domestic affairs are managed by the master's wife and children. To punish a slave with stripes,

* This Essay was originally published in the Biblical Repository for January, 1836.

to load him with chains, to condemn him to hard labor, is unusual. It is true, that slaves are, sometimes, put to death, not under color of justice, or of any authority vested in the master, but in a transport of passion, in a fit of rage, as is often the case in a sudden affray; but it is also true, that this species of homicide passes with impunity. The freedmen are not of much higher consideration than the actual slaves. They obtain no rank in the master's family, and, if we except the parts of Germany where monarchy is established, they never figure on the stage of public business. In despotic governments, they rise above the men of ingenuous birth, and even eclipse the whole body of nobles. In other states, the subordination of the freedmen is a proof of public liberty." It is not easy to determine whether liberty most flourished in Germany, or Gaul. In the latter the influence of religion was much greater, while in the former there was more individual independence. In Gaul, however, manumission was much more frequent, the slaves being made free, in order that they might, on any emergency, be able to assist their lords, who had not, like the German barons, freeborn warriors always at hand to assist them. In Gaul, the Church had a much greater number of slaves; and under the influence of Christianity slavery is always sure to be mitigated.

In the various ancient codes of law,* the first thing which strikes us is the distinction of social ranks. The fundamental one is that of free men and slaves. Besides the slaves who become so by birth, or the fortune of war, anciently any freeman could dispose of his own liberty: if he mar

*Such as the Lex Salica, the Code of the Ripuarii, Code of the Burgundians, Lex Saxonum, etc.

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