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For the first time, under the influence of Christianity, a great moral movement passed through the servile class. The multitude of slaves who embraced the new faith was one of the reproaches of the Pagans; and the names of Blandina, Potamiæna, Eutyches, Victorinus, and Nereus, show how fully they shared in the sufferings and in the glory of martyrdom.' The first and grandest edifice of Byzantine architecture in Italy-the noble church of St. Vital, at Ravennawas dedicated by Justinian to the memory of a martyred slave.

While Christianity thus broke down the contempt with which the master had regarded his slaves, and planted among the latter a principle of moral regeneration which expanded in no other sphere with an equal perfection, its action in procuring the freedom of the slave was unceasing. The law of Constantine, which placed the ceremony under the superintendence of the clergy, and the many laws that gave special facilities of manumission to those who desired to enter the monasteries or the priesthood, symbolised the religious character the act had assumed. It was celebrated on Church festivals, especially at Easter; and, although it was not proclaimed a matter of duty or necessity, it was always regarded as one of the most acceptable modes of expiating past sins. St. Melania was said to have emancipated 8,000 slaves ; St. Ovidius, a rich martyr of Gaul, 5,000; Chromatius, a Roman prefect under Diocletian, 1,400; Hermes, a prefect in the reign of Trajan, 1,250.2 Pope St. Gregory, many of the clergy at Hippo under the rule of St. Augustine, as well as great numbers of private individuals, freed their slaves as an act of piety. It became customary to do so on occasions

See a most admirable disserta- p. 210. These numbers are, no doubt, tion on this subject in Le Blant, exaggerated; see Wallon, Hist. de Inscriptions chrétiennes de la Gaule, l’Esclavage, tome iii. p. 38. tome ii. pp. 284-299; Gibbon's 3 See Schmidt, Société civile Decline and Fall, ch. xxxviii. dans le Monde romain, pp. 246–

2 Champagny, Charité chrétienne, 248.




of national or personal thanksgiving, on recovery from sickness, on the birth of a child, at the hour of death, and, above all, in testamentary bequests.' Numerous charters and epitaphs still record the gift of liberty to slaves throughout the middle ages, ‘for the benefit of the soul' of the donor or testator. In the thirteenth century, when there were no slaves to emancipate in France, it was usual in many churches, to release caged pigeons on the ecclesiastical festivals, in memory of the ancient charity, and that prisoners might still be freed in the name of Christ.2

Slavery, however, lasted in Europe for about 800 years after Constantine, and during the period with which alone this volume is concerned, although its character was changed and mitigated, the number of men who were subject to it was probably greater than in the Pagan Empire. In the West the barbarian conquests modified the conditions of labour in two directions. The cessation of the stream of barbarian captives, the impoverishment of great families, who had been surrounded by vast retinues of slaves, the general diminution of town life, and the barbarian habits of personal independence, checked the old form of slavery, while the misery and the precarious condition of the free peasants induced them in great numbers to barter their liberty for protection by the neighbouring lord. In the East, the de

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1 Muratori has devoted two va- 194-196; Ryan's History of the luable dissertations (Antich. Ital. Effects of Religion upon Mankind, xiv. xv.) to mediæval slavery. pp. 142, 143.)

2 Ozanam's Hist. of Civilisation Salvian, in a famous passage in the Fifth Century (Eng. trans.), (De Gubernatione Dei, lib. v.), novol. ii. p. 43. St. Adelbert, Arch- tices the multitudes of poor who bishop of Prague at the end of the voluntarily became 'coloni' for the tenth century, was especially famous sake of protection and a livelihood. for his opposition to the slave trade. The coloni, who were attached to In Sweden, the abolition of slavery the soil, were much the same as the in the thirteenth century was avow- mediæval serfs. We have already edly accomplished in obedience to noticed them coming into being, apChristian principles. (Moehler, Le parently when the Roman emperors. Christianisme et l’Esclavage, pp. settled barbarian prisoners to cul

struction of great fortunes through excessive taxation diminished the number of superfluous slaves; and the fiscal system of the Byzantine Empire, by which agricultural slaves were taxed according to their employments, as well as the desire of emperors to encourage agriculture, led the legislators to attach the slaves permanently to the soil. In the course of time, almost the entire free peasantry, and the greater number of the old slaves, had sunk or risen into the qualified slavery called serfdom, which formed the basis of the great edifice of feudalism. Towards the end of the eighth century, the sale of slaves beyond their native provinces was in most countries prohibited. The creation of the free cities of Italy, the custom of emancipating slaves who were enrolled in the army, and economical changes which made free labour more profitable than slave labour, conspired with religious motives in effecting the ultimate freedom of labour. The practice of manumitting, as an act of devotion, continued to the end; but the ecclesiastics, probably through the feeling that they had no right to alienate corporate property, in which they had only a life interest, were among the last to follow the counsels they so liberally bestowed upon the laity.3 In the twelfth century, however, slaves in Europe were very rare.

In the fourteenth century, slavery was almost unknown.4 tivate the desert lands of Italy; le chiese, e i monisteri, non per and before the barbarian invasions altra cagione, a mio credere, se non their numbers seem to have much perchè la manumissione è una spezie increased. M. Guizot has devoted di alienazione, ed era dai canoni protwo chapters to this subject. (Hist. ibito l'alienare i beni delle chiese.' de la Civilisation en France, vii. - Muratori, Dissert. xv. Some

Councils, however, recognised the See Finlay's Hist. of Greece, right of bishops to emancipate vol. i. p. 241.

Church slaves. Moehler, Le Chris2 Moehler, p. 181.

tianisme et l’Esclavage, p. 187. 3. Non v'era anticamente signor Many peasants placed themselves secolare, vescovo, abbate, capitolo under the dominion of the monks, di canonici e monistero che non as being the best masters, and also avesse al suo servigio molti servi. to obtain the benefit of their prayers. Molto frequentemente solevano i 4 Muratori; Hallam's Middle secolari manometterli. Non cosi Ages, ch. ii. part ii.


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Closely connected with the influence of the Church in de stroying hereditary slavery, was its influence in redeeming captives from servitude. In no other form of charity was its beneficial character more continually and more splendidly displayed. During the long and dreary trials of the barbarian invasions, when the whole structure of society was dislocated, when vast districts and mighty cities were in a few months almost depopulated, and when the flower of the youth of Italy were mown down by the sword, or carried away into captivity, the bishops never desisted from their efforts to alleviate the sufferings of the prisoners. St. Ambrose, disregarding the outcries of the Arians, who denounced his act as atrocious sacrilege, sold the rich church ornaments of Milan to rescue some captives who had fallen into the hands of the Goths, and this practice

which was afterwards formally sanctioned by St. Gregory the Great–became speedily general. When the Roman army had captured, but refused to support, seven thousand Persian prisoners, Acacius, Bishop of Amida, undeterred by the bitter hostility of the Persians to Christianity, and declaring that God had no need of plates or dishes,' sold all the rich church ornaments of his diocese, rescued the unbelieving prisoners, and sent them back unharmed to their king. During the horrors of the Vandal invasion, Deogratias, Bishop of Carthage, took a similar step to ransom the Roman prisoners. St. Augustine, St. Gregory the Great, St. Cæsarius of Arles, St. Exuperius of Toulouse, St. Hilary, St. Remi, all melted down or sold their church vases to free prisoners. St. Cyprian sent a large sum for the same purpose to the Bishop of Nicomedia. St. Epiphanius and St. Avitus, in conjunction with a rich Gaulish lady named Syagria, are said to have rescued thousands. St. Eligius devoted to this object his entire fortune. St. Paulinus of Nola displayed a similar generosity, and the legends even assert, though untruly, that he, like St. Peter Teleonarius and St. Serapion, having exhausted all other forms of charity,

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as a last gift sold himself to slavery. When, long afterwards, the Mahommedan conquests in a measure reproduced the calamities of the barbarian invasions, the same unwearied charity was displayed. The Trinitarian monks, founded by John of Matha in the twelfth century, were devoted to the release of Christian captives, and another society was founded with the same object by Peter Nolasco, in the following century.!

The different branches of the subject I am examining are so closely intertwined that it is difficult to investigate one without in a measure anticipating the others. While discussing the influence of the Church in protecting infancy, in raising the estimate of human life, and in alleviating slavery, I have trenched largely upon the last application of the doctrine of Christian fraternity I must examine—I.mean the foundation of charity. The difference between Pagan and Christian societies in this matter is very profound ; but a great part of it must be ascribed to causes other than religious opinions. Charity finds an extended scope for action only, where there exists a large class of men at once independent and impoverished. In the ancient societies, slavery in a great measure replaced pauperism, and, by securing the subsistence of a very large proportion of the poor, contracted the sphere of charity. And what slavery did at Rome for the very poor, the system of clientage did for those of a somewhat higher rank. The existence of these two institutions is sufficient to show the injustice of judging the two societies by a mere comparison of their charitable institutions, and we must also remember that among the ancients the relief of the indigent was one of the most important functions of the State. Not to dwell


many measures taken with this object in ancient Greece, in considering the condition of the Roman poor we are at once met



* See on this subject, Ryan, pp. and especially Le Blant, Inscrip151–152; Cibrario, Economica po- tions chrétiennes de la Gaule, tome litica del Medio Evo, lib. iii. cap. ii., ii. pp. 284-299.

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