What's the relation between Pax Romana and the slavery crisis in Rome?

Nov 2012
7
I always thought that the economic crisis caused by the slavery crisis in Rome was due to the Pax Romana, since the Roman Empire stopped doing war and conquering new territories, as their labor force was mostly slaves. But I was googling about it and it is said that the Pax Romana lasted until year 200 of common era, and that period was of great economic growth.
 

Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
5,009
Dispargum
Foreign conquest was not the only source of slaves. Some slaves came from the suppression of internal rebellions such as the Jewish revolt in the first century. Another source of slaves was trade - barbarian tribes outside of the empire would capture slaves and sell them to the Romans. While the birthrate among slaves seems to have been low, some slaves were born into slavery. We know the Romans had laws to determine the status of slave babies - the child took on the status of the mother. Another law said that anyone who married a slave became a slave, but I suspect few people became slaves this way. Other people fell into slavery if they could not pay their debts. Another source of slaves was orphaned or abandoned children, especially babies. It took a few years for the child to grow big enough to perform useful work, but if one was willing to wait that was another source of slaves. We can't assume that just because there were few foreign wars in the second century that there were no new slaves.
 
Oct 2015
1,009
Virginia
What are the sources for a "Slave Crisis"?
What does it mean? If slaves become rare and expensive won't free labor or serfs (coloni) simply take their place? Isn't that what actually happened?
Is there evidence or studies on slave vs free labor, or trends in the labor system in the Roman Empire?
 
Last edited:
Mar 2018
984
UK
What are the sources for a "Slave Crisis"?
What does it mean?
This. It's very odd to provide a cause for an event without first establishing that the event happen. I might as well write a thread asking if the Cuban missile crisis is why China reached the Moon before the USA.
 
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Oct 2018
2,092
Sydney
I always thought that the economic crisis caused by the slavery crisis in Rome was due to the Pax Romana, since the Roman Empire stopped doing war and conquering new territories, as their labor force was mostly slaves. But I was googling about it and it is said that the Pax Romana lasted until year 200 of common era, and that period was of great economic growth.
As with the others commenting I'd need to first see arguments that there was indeed a slave crisis. A variety of issues governed the troubles that followed the second century including an ever-more empowered Roman army, an ill-defined system of succession, an absence of dynastic longevity, a newly invigorated Persian empire, the appearance of new confederations beyond the Rhine and Danube frontiers, economic mismanagement and climate change.

As for trajectories of growth and decline, the complicated history of the Roman Empire challenges any simple conclusions about the existence of such trajectories. The second century saw economic prosperity and stability in leadership, and the empire's size reached its climax, whereas this period was indeed followed by the Third-Century Crisis, but it's notable that parts of the empire continued to thrive despite the crises in leadership and along the borders (e.g. there was increased building activity in Africa and Asia Minor), and the immediate aftermath of the late second-century Antonine Plague saw wages improve and rents and staples become cheaper. The Crisis was in turn followed by the Tetrarchic and Constantinian periods, when the empire was again in a position of military strength vis-a-vis its enemies and enjoyed improved economic and political stability. The empire's western half did eventually collapse into a serious of successor kingdoms, but the eastern half continued to enjoy periods of strength as late as the Komnenids of the 12th century.
 
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johnincornwall

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
8,008
Cornwall
'Slave' is of course a very emotive word these days, but in the times stated it was just another worker status really. You worked, you got paid in food and Lodge and raising families etc. This carried forward into Visigothic/Hispano-Roman Hispania (because it was intermingled and complex) in that nobles were required to turn up for the army when called, with their retinues and slaves, who were part of their troops. Of course they rarely did, which is another story.......................