1.25 – Slavery in Classical Antiquity & Medieval Europe


Abolition, p. IX-26 (much of this material will also be referenced for 1/30’s questions)

PBS, Slavery in Ancient Rome (1 page)

Aristotle on Slavery (1 page) (skip the St. Augustine material)

Wikipedia, Slavery in Ancient Greece (quickly skim to find answers for the discussion questions)

Decrees on Sale of Unfree Christians, c. 922-1171 (1 page)

Gregory of Tours: Harsh Treatment of Serfs and Slaves, c. 575  (1 page)

Discussion questions

[1] According to Drescher, what are some of the broad characteristics that scholars have used to define slavery?

[2] In Ancient Greece and Rome, how did people become enslaved? What were some of the economic roles that slaves performed in those societies? Was socio-economic mobility (improving one’s conditions of life) possible for slaves?

[3] What philosophical defenses of slavery did Aristotle offer?

[4] What, according to Drescher, was “one of the most valuable commodities underdeveloped Europe could offer to Islamic Africa and Asia?”

[5] Drescher provides considerable information on slavery in Medieval Europe. What are some of the examples he provides of Europeans enslaving other Europeans? How does using primary sources such as ‘decrees on sale of unfree christians’ and ‘harsh treatments of serfs and slaves’ add to our understanding of the history of slavery in Medieval Europe?

[6] What arguments did Catalonian peasants use to justify their claims that they deserved freedom? Did those arguments represented an effort to abolish the institution of slavery?

[7] What are the most important factors that made slavery so widespread in the Ancient World and Medieval Europe?





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