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Slavery in Poland

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Slavery in Poland

Slavery in Poland existed on the territory of Kingdom of Poland during the times of the Piast dynasty in the Middle Ages.[1] It continued in various forms until late in the 14th century and was supplanted by the institution of serfdom, which has often been considered a form of modified slavery.


Polish literature refers to this group of people as "unfree people" (Polish: ludzie niewolni, Latin: servi, ancillae, familia) rather than as slaves.[1]


The institution of slavery appeared on the Polish territories around Early Middle Ages, as it became adopted by various Slav and German tribes. It played a lesser (if still significant) role in the economy and culture of those tribes (and later, states) than in those of the Roman Empire.[2] It existed on the territory of Kingdom of Poland during the times of the Piast dynasty;[1] in fact, the number of slaves rose significantly with the establishment of the Polish state, as most of the slaves were owned by the king.[3]

According to Samuel Augustus Mitchell, non-free people were emancipated in Poland in 1347 under the Statutes of Casimir the Great issued in Wiślica,[4] although there are indications that some form of slavery, in practice and law, continued at least till the end of the 14th century.[5] Throughout the remaining history of feudal Poland, particularly in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, much of the peasantry was subject to serfdom, which was often likened to slavery.[6][7] Serfdom was abolished in Poland in the 18th century during the times of the partitions of Poland.


The niewolni came primarily from the ranks of [1] Those who were not owned by the monarch were among the few in the Kingdom of Poland that could not rely on royal justice.[8]

Niewolni had a limited right to relocate themselves, and could own possessions.[9] Over time, their numbers decreased, due in part to some escaping and also due to the fact that their owners saw it as more profitable to use them as peasants rather than servants (Polish: czeladź, Latin: servi casati). Czeladź would have their own house, and would be little different from regular peasants or serfs.[1]

See also

Further reading

  • Tymieniecki K. – Zagadnienie niewoli w Polsce u schyłku wieków średnich (The issue of slavery in Poland in the late middle ages), Poznań 1933
  • Włodzimierz Szafrański. Problem niewolnictwa w pradziejach ziem polskich (issue of slavery in the prehistory of the Polish lands), „Acta Universitatis Wratislaviensis", „Antiquitas", t. 10 (nr 598), s. 143–154, ii., 1983
  • W. Korta. Problem niewolnictwa w Polsce wczesnośredniowiecznej (The problem of slavery in early medieval Poland), „Społeczeństwo Polski średniowiecznej. Zbiór studiów”, t. II red. S. R. Kuczyński, Warszawa 1982


  1. ^ a b c d e Juliusz Bardach, Boguslaw Lesnodorski, and Michal Pietrzak, Historia panstwa i prawa polskiego (Warsaw: Paristwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe, 1987, pp.40–41
  2. ^ Juliusz Bardach, Boguslaw Lesnodorski, and Michal Pietrzak, Historia panstwa i prawa polskiego (Warsaw: Paristwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe, 1987, p.18
  3. ^ Stefan Inglot; Jan Borkowski (1992). Historia chłopów polskich. Wydawn. Uniw. Wroc·lawskiego. p. 30.  
  4. ^ Samuel Augustus Mitchell (1859). A general view of the world: comprising a physical, political, and statistical account of its grand divisions ... with their empires, kingdoms, republics, principalities, &c.: exhibiting the history of geographical science and the progress of discovery to the present time ... Illustrated by upwards of nine hundred engravings .... H. Cowperthwait & Co. p. 335. Retrieved 1 April 2012. 
  5. ^ Anna Klubówna (1982). Ostatni z wielkich Piastów. Ludowa Spółdzielnia Wydawnicza. p. 85.  
  6. ^ Jerzy Lukowski (3 August 2010). Disorderly liberty: the political culture of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the eighteenth century. Continuum International Publishing Group. p. 185.  
  7. ^ Larry Wolff (1 June 1996). Inventing Eastern Europe: the map of civilization on the mind of the enlightenment. Stanford University Press. p. 100.  
  8. ^ Juliusz Bardach, Boguslaw Lesnodorski, and Michal Pietrzak, Historia panstwa i prawa polskiego (Warsaw: Paristwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe, 1987, p.75
  9. ^ Helena Radlińska (1908). Z dziejów narodu: wypisy z źródeł i streszczenia z opracowań historycznych. Nakładem i drukiem M. Arcta. p. 212. Retrieved 2 April 2012. 
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