chapter  4
12 Pages

Sources of Slaves

ByCarl I. Hammer

Natural increase was the source of slaves in medieval Bavaria. Servile Bavarians are the best indicator of a well-established, naturally reproducing population, since captives and traded slaves tend disproportionally to be males and their presence in large numbers would skew the sex ratios of the affected populations. Internal transactions within Bavaria obviously did not increase the overall number of slaves, but information on the redistribution of the supply contains some points of interest. Slaves are merely one part of the inventory amongst others, albeit the only part ever to bear distinct names, and could be granted together with lands or separately, even as a supplement. Since ecclesiastical estates were inherently more stable than lay ones, granting slaves to them may, of itself, have been a sign of a lay lord's favour. Slaves clearly were valuable property. The Bavarian Law Code provided several occasions for freemen to become slaves through legal sanctions.