Slavery, Religion and the Prus

Roach, A. (2020) Slavery, Religion and the Prus. Working Paper. University of Glasgow. (Early Online Publication)

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Abstract

This article investigates the role of the pagan Prus in the medieval Baltic slave trade. The region initially shared in the influx of eastern silver through the Scandinavian port of Truso, but the use of silver in trade seems to have discontinued after 850, the so-called ’Prussian phenomenon’. Accounts of the brief mission of Saint Adalbert in 997 show evidence that the Prus participated in the trade, but other evidence from Ibn Ya’qub and Adam of Bremen show that the Prus were being raided by sea while Polish chroniclers such as Gallus Anonymus and Vincent Kadłubek also show evidence of raids and abductions by land.The latter using the rhetoric of the Crusades. The Roman Church grew gradually more concerned with the slave trade, shifting from Adalbert’s dislike of Christians being owned and sold by Jews to twelfth century questioning of Christians being traded at all. This may have resulted in the Prus being more targeted as an obstinately pagan people. While the central medieval text Miracula Sancti Adalberti shows an integrated world of Christian and pagan along the Baltic coast, later evidence from Jan Długosz and parallels with areas further inland show that raiding and the trade in slaves may well have led to long term depopulation and economic underdevelopment.

Item Type:Research Reports or Papers (Working Paper)
Status:Early Online Publication
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Roach, Dr Andrew
Authors: Roach, A.
College/School:College of Arts > School of Humanities > History
Publisher:University of Glasgow
Published Online:22 December 2020

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