Tuesday, February 27, 2007


In Byzantium, there was a considerable slave population, and, up until the 12th century, "infidel" and "heathen" slaves worked for both individual families and the state. By the 12th century there was a growing opposition to slavery, but nothing like the American Emancipation Proclamation was ever issued.

It was not uncommon in Byzantium for male slaves to be castrated. Even some important leaders of the army and navy, during various periods of Byzantine history, were castrated -- often because very high positions were available to eunuchs, as they were of no threat to the Byzantine Emperor (The Emperor was never castrated). Once Western ideas of sex, chivalry and more humane treatment became more popularized in Byzantium, however, there was a stigma attached to castration.