Vassar College Digital Library
The late antique and early medieval period is typically thought of as a time of change. In slavery studies, Marxist historiography argues that the period marks the shift from the "slave" to the "feudal" mode of production, and its detractors often take the rise of Christianity to be a key differentiator between ancient and medieval enslavement practices. Even modern scholars with no explicit investment in Marxist or anti-Marxist politics take it for granted that the period was one of upheaval with respect to the practice of slavery. In this thesis, I analyze the 7th-century Formulae Visigothicae and show that it demonstrates strong continuities between Roman and Visigothic enslavement practices. I argue that the character of Visigothic slavery and of Visigothic thought about slavery was very similar to the slavery and the thought about slavery of their Roman predecessors. Not only were Visigothic laws about slavery similar to Roman laws, but the practice of slavery resembled Roman practice, and even when practices diverged, the divergence was often driven by philosophical ideas about slavery that were inherited from the Romans.
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