The “End of Slavery” With the Fall of the Roman Empire

A different Perspective

Andrei Tapalaga ✒️
4 min readJun 19, 2020


A common slave market in the Roman Empire

FFrom a different point of view, between the 3rd and 6th centuries, when the political authority of the Roman Empire in the West yielded, leading to the appearance of the so-called Roman-barbarian kingdoms, a period of change in the forms of exploitation of slaves for the use of agricultural work had taken place. The symbol of Roman agricultural production was gradually transformed and branched, giving birth to forms of settlements typical of the Middle Ages.

The land remained divided into heritage, generally representing the area of a rustic villa which could be composed of various smaller parts, called masses or bows, hence the word large estate. In this article, I will be looking at how this change at the end of the Roman Empire tried to put an end to slavery within the Roman Empire regions and at least until the 7th century.

Turning Slavery to limited freedom

These lands preserved the structures for the accumulation of products, which were to be transported and sold on the market, but they had a new social structure that inhabited and worked them: the old slaves, hitherto deprived of any rights, gradually obtained some rights as well as some limited Freedom. In the mentioned centuries, slaves could be of two kinds:

  • Domestic slaves: were few in number, still related to housework, Domestic slaves lived in better quarters and received better food. They sometimes were able to travel with the owner’s family. In many cases, a class system developed within the slave community.
  • Owned slaves: were those that were mainly working on plantations and agriculture which were not offered any sort of freedom nor right. The only thing they would receive is one poor meal a day and water.
5th century Roman Farm

In order to favor the production, in a period of drastic decrease of the population, the owners favor a relatively recent phenomenon, the colonization. Thus, the old large estates turned into nebulae of small plots worked by free people, forced to pay a tax, but without other debts. As…



Andrei Tapalaga ✒️

Avid Writer with invaluable knowledge in Humanity! “You make your own life”