Given that the basic mechanics of slavery are that a food surplus exists so as to calorically support it, the basic problem of wars and insurgencies that create POWs and criminal activity like kidnapping and debts, and the ability for people to profit from it, it would seem like nearly all societies should have slavery to some degree. They might be half a percent of the population or they might be over half as it was in Haiti, it might be chattel or they might have some rights or privileges however small or large, it might be relegated to colonies only and not the metropole, but it seems like it was rare to abolish it over all the realms a state had control over before the 1800s. It seems that even the oldest records we have about societies mentioned them in some way like Hammurabi´s law code.

I was thinking about Lord of the Rings recently and was thinking that it was odd that none of the humanoid races, not associated with dark magic, had slaves, not even a small retinue for the kings or nobles. I began to think then about even more societies in more parts of the world, more fictional universes, and the like, to wonder where their slaves were like depictions and accounts of the Anglo-Saxon heptarchy.

  • The first step is to define what you mean by "slave" for the purposes of the question (and how that definition differs from that of a servant/serf/feudal peasant, etc., if at all).
    – Steve Bird
    Commented Jul 16, 2023 at 13:29
  • It's entirely up to the author what to include, or not include, in their story. Even if it's set in a society with slavery, the plot may never come in contact with enslaved people (consider for example stories set in the modern day).
    – SPavel
    Commented Jul 16, 2023 at 14:26
  • @SteveBird or even modern debt peonage.
    – Spencer
    Commented Jul 16, 2023 at 14:47
  • I'm skeptical that historical sources & methods can provide a useful answer to this question as asked. This is essentially a hypothetical. Please revise the question to fit within our guidelines help center and History Meta(history.meta.stackexchange.com), with particular attention to good question. Hypotheticals are out of scope and should be closed.
    – MCW
    Commented Jul 16, 2023 at 15:16


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