Slavery and Serfdom

William Doyle

in The Oxford Handbook of the Ancien Régime

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780199291205
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in History

Slavery and Serfdom

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Slavery and serfdom, together underpinning so much of the economic Ancien Régime, survived the challenges of revolution. Only serfdom in France (already a dwindling relic) and slavery in Haiti disappeared for good. Elsewhere, both systems of servitude reached their zenith. And although both had begun by then to come under attack, the initial impact of the French Revolution was to arrest or retard chances of emancipation as terrified governments and propertied elites witnessed what mayhem freedom could unleash. But for all the comparisons often made, then and since, between the two systems of subjection, they cannot be pressed too far. Despite the spectacular prosperity built on the backs of colonial slaves, revolts among them were relatively rare and did not threaten social structures in Europe.

Keywords: serfdom; slavery; Ancien Régime; French Revolution; emancipation; subjection

Article.  7936 words. 

Subjects: History ; Slavery and Abolition of Slavery

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