Wednesday, 17 September 2014

SLAVERY 15: Travel

I've worked my way through to the 1390s now, and the world seems to be opening up in the documents.

Here are a few rather intriguing examples (the whole thing was made more intriguing today by a big splattered blood stain over a couple of the folios - mysterious and disgusting!):

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In 1399, a patrician from Dubrovnik commissioned a slave trader to travel to Damietta in North Africa to buy him a black slave.  The vast majority of slaves before this point were from the hinterlands around Dubrovnik.   By the 1390s, it had become a status-symbol to have a slave who was visibly different - and to 'place an order' for such a person.  The world was opening up - slaves were being brought from further away - and what they represented in terms of status for the owner was beginning to shift.  Distasteful it may be, but this seems to have been about fashions. (Diversa Cancellariae 33, fol 142r)

In 1398, a bishop hired a priest for a one-off payment to work exclusively for him for a period of several years.  The priest was to accompany the bishop on a pilgrimage to Santiago da Compostella in Spain - such a long way, that provisions were made in the contract for what would happen to the payment should the priest give up halfway, should he die, should the bishop die etc.(Diversa Cancellariae 33, fol 28v)

In 1397, one Victor Bathar from Flanders was captured by the Turks, and then offered protection by a patrician from Dubrovnik - the protection was offered on the strict condition that Victor was never, ever, to leave Dubrovnik - he was a captive. (Diversa Cancellariae 33, fol 82r)

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