Scandinavia and the World

Comments #9825598:

Can you imagine the clipshow? 1 12, 8:11pm

@joshupetersen There was another form of slavery in baltics and I think in Finland as well, known as serfdom.

Basically, the slave was tied to the land. The german nobles owned the lands and the people on it. The slaves were allowed to build themselves a home on the land and farm the land but they had to give (a quite large) part of their crops to the noble. In addition to farming their own lands, the slaves also had to farm the fields that belonged to the noble and noble's fields took priority, meaning they could only work their own fields when the work on noble's field was done. And the slaves had to feed themselves from their own crops. The lord could have been kind enough to provide food in bad times but it was not necessary.

Now it might seem the slave was pretty free, right? Wrong. The slave was not allowed to leave the lands of the lord, ever. If you left, you were hunted down, brought back and punished severely. It was not possible to buy your freedom. Any children that were born into your family automatically became slaves as well. Hell, you couldn't even live well. Say, you built yourself a fine house where you could live comfortably, well, pray the lord doesn't take fancy to it and kick you out so he can claim it for himself. There were no laws in place to protect the slaves.

This kind of slavery lasted from 12th century up until 19th century. While the rule changed hands many a time, from germans, to danish, to swedish, to russians, the one thing that never changed was serfdom and german nobles. Depending on the ruler, the nobles had more or fewer rights regarding the slaves but the slavery remained for about 700 years. In that time, culture, religion and history of the enslaved people was completely erased without trace. All we know is the accounts of the invaders and what little archaeological digs have discovered.