From the History of Slavery and the Slave Trade in the Belarusian Lands of the X−XIII сenturies
Authors: Evgeniуa V. Kravtsova
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The presented article aims to open a little-studied page in the history of Ancient Rus – the phenomenon of slavery and the slave trade in the Belarusian lands in the X−XIII centuries, in an inseparable context from the general Russian trends of socio-economic and political development. On the basis of the materials studied, the study provides a characteristic of the historiographic base corresponding to the stated problem. An article by I.M. Krasnoperov, found in the journal of the Ministry of Education, played a key role in the study «Slavery and the Slave Trade in Ancient Belarus», published in 1907 and is in essence the only scientific study that raised the issue of slavery on the example of a specific region within the framework of the Old Russian state. When analyzing the available information, gaps were identified, including those associated with sources that may become relevant for further comprehensive study and replenishment by historians. In addition, the author made attempts to trace the transformation of such concepts as servant, servant, slave and how they were perceived by contemporaries, as well as to give an answer to the question of why and in what situations sometimes these concepts could be equated to a common denominator. Attention is also paid to the value of owning «human goods» among representatives of the nobility (princes and their entourage). In connection with this provision of the article, an emphasis is placed on the acts of famous princes (especially those of Polotsk) aimed at turning the population into servitude (the activities of Vseslav the Charodey, Gleb Minsky). For a more complete understanding of the level of slavery and the slave trade in the Belarusian lands of the X–XIII centuries, information about the large centers of these phenomena is presented, as well as a description of the main directions of the slave trade (west, east and south) and what contributed to this. As a result, it was concluded that princely strife played a significant role in the development of slaveholding in Ancient Belarus. Taken together, these phenomena provoked a decline and caused enormous damage to both the population and the unity of the state, which is noticeable in the position of the Russian lands in the XIII–XIV centuries.