Wich is the origin of the racism against slavs in western europe?

Aug 2016
58
SNAM
The latin word for slave is "servus" but in all great western european languages the term that indicates slavery is connected with the word the that indicates slavs (slave,esclave,esclavo,schiavo,sklave) or at least so it seems... During the course of the history Germans appear to despice them particularly.
I read that the Crusaders that joined northern crusades considered themselves superiors to the non-civilized peoples who fought,and they were specially german,and the opionon of germans on slavic peoples during the Third Reich need no explanation .Nowadays slavic peoples in western europe are often associated whit rape,stealing and drunkennes,their country are also often considered as waste lands,dangerous and dominated by mafia.Looking the stats the situation is not so tremendous to me.Is there anyone that can answer this question?
 
Jun 2016
81
Sweden
Here in Sweden, Slavs (or just "Eastern europeans" as Eastern europeans here are usually just called Slavs) are stereotyped as being very poor and uneducated people who are actively engaged in criminal activities. It's not to say that none of this is true, but generally, Slavic immigrants who come here just want a better life for them and/or their family and will work very hard to get that. They're not bad guys.

I think a lot of these stereotypes can be traced back to soviet times.
 
Jun 2016
333
EU (still!)
The Old English word for slave was welisc. This word originates from ethnic Britons (English name of Britons is: Welsh):

Online Etymology Dictionary

Welsh (adj.)

Old English Wielisc, Wylisc (West Saxon), Welisc, Wælisc (Anglian and Kentish) "foreign; British (not Anglo-Saxon), Welsh; not free, servile," from Wealh, Walh "Celt, Briton, Welshman, non-Germanic foreigner;" in Tolkien's definition, "common Gmc. name for a man of what we should call Celtic speech," but also applied in Germanic languages to speakers of Latin, hence Old High German Walh, Walah "Celt, Roman, Gaulish," and Old Norse Val-land "France," Valir "Gauls, non-Germanic inhabitants of France" (Danish vælsk "Italian, French, southern"); from Proto-Germanic *Walkhiskaz, from a Celtic tribal name represented by Latin Volcæ (Caesar) "ancient Celtic tribe in southern Gaul."
The current English word slave is a late borrowing (it entered English language around year 1300 AD) from Old French esclave, which in turn was a borrowing from Medieval Latin (sclavus), which in turn was probably a borrowing from Byzantine Greek.

So the association of Slavs with slaves originally took place in the Balkans.

According to another theory it took place during the wars of Henry the Fowler and Otto the Great against Slavs (Wends) who lived in what is now East Germany, between the Elbe and the Oder.

But if that association originated from the Balkans, then I'm not at all sure whether it was due to Slavs being overrepresented among slaves, or due to the special way how Slavs treated their own slaves (which was described for example by "Strategikon" of Emperor Maurice). Emperor Maurice in his "Strategikon" noticed, that Slavs treated their slaves (captives) in different ways than others did.

Quote:

"(...) Slavs, unlike all other peoples, do not keep captives in perpetual slavery, but they demarcate for them a limited period of time, after which they give them a choice: they can either return home if they purchase their freedom, or stay among them as free people and friends. (...)"

So, according to "Strategikon", Slavic invaders used to incorporate Non-Slavic captives (slaves) into their ranks. They had an unusual habit of liberating their slaves and incorporating them into their own communities as free people - thus increasing their own numbers very fast, thanks to Slavicization of foreigners.

Thousands of Byzantine Empire's citizens were apparently enslaved and incorporated into Slavic tribes, becoming free. The majority of other peoples of that time used to keep their captives in perpetual slavery, rather than mixing with them.

If "Strategikon" was right, then Slavic tribes which emerged in the Balkans must have included many descendants of former Byzantine citizens who got captured by the "original Slavs" or by their allies, then liberated, then linguistically and culturally assimilated into Slavic communities.

This is also confirmed by other sources, for example by these excerpts from Procopius of Caesarea:

Procopius of Caesarea, Book VII, XIII - describing the events of year 545 AD:

Quote:

"(...) For a great throng of the barbarians, the Sclaveni [Slavs], had, as it happened, recently crossed the Ister [Danube], plundering the adjoining country and enslaved a very great number of Romans. (...)"

Another excerpt from Procopius:

"(...) In Illyria and Thracia, from the Ionian Gulf to Byzantine surrounding cities, where Hellas and Chersonese regions are situated, (...) the Sclavenes and the Antes, penetrating practically every year since Justinian administering the Roman Empire, were inflicting irreversible damage to their inhabitants. In each invasion I estimate 200,000 Romans were either enslaved or killed (...)"

And here an excerpt from John of Ephesus:

"(...) In third year after the death of Emperor Justin, during the reign of victorious Tiberius, the damned nation of the Slavs has risen, and marching through entire Hellas, through lands of Thessaly and Thrace, captured many cities and strongholds, plundered, burned and robbed, seized the land and settled there with full ease, without fear, like in their own land. (...) they were plundering the country, burning it and robbing, as far as the Great Walls [of Constantinople], and this is how they captured many thousands of cattle, as well as many other kinds of booty. (...) Until today, that is until year 584, they still continue to live in peace in lands of the Rhomaioi, without fear and concern, plundering, enslaving and burning, getting rich and highjacking gold and silver, capturing horses and plenty of weapons; and they have learned to fight better than the Rhomaioi. (...)"

Also a passage from Menander Protector:

"(...) About the fourth year of the reign of Caesar Tiberius Constantine, some hundred thousand Slavs broke into Thrace, and pillaged that and many other regions. As Greece was being laid waste and enslaved by the Slavs, with trouble liable to flare up anywhere, and as Tiberius had at his disposal by no means sufficient forces, he sent a delegation to the Khagan of the Avars. (...)"

Jordanes about the three branches of early Slavic-speaking peoples (ethnonym Slavs comes from just one of them - the Sclaveni):

"(...) These people, as we started to say at the beginning of our account or catalogue of nations, though off-shoots from one stock, have now three names, that is, Venedi, Antes and Sclaveni. (...) they now rage in war far and wide, in punishment for our sins (...) Though their names are now dispersed amid various clans and places, yet they are chiefly called Sclaveni and Antes. (...)"

Procopius of Caesarea once again (about Slavic foederati/mercenaries fighting under Belisarius):

"(...) Belisarius was eager to capture alive one of the men of note among the enemy, in order that he might learn what the reason might be why the barbarians were holding out in their desperate situation. And Valerian promised readily to perform such a service for him. For there were some men in his command, he said, from the nation of the Sclaveni, who are accustomed to conceal themselves behind a small rock or any bush which may happen to be near and pounce upon an enemy. In fact, they are constantly practising this in their slave hunts along the river Ister, both on the Romans and on the barbarians as well. (...)"

And also: http://www.ascsa.edu.gr/pdf/uploads/hesperia/147272.pdf

"There is clear evidence from the excavations of the Athenian Agora that the late sixth century witnessed some interruption in the peaceful course of town life in Athens. Certain buildings, for example, are known to have been burnt and temporarily or permanently deserted at that time. Finds of coinage, evidently concealed in haste or abandoned in emergency and never recovered, allow a date to be assigned to events, for which, although they are well attested by archaeological discovery, it would otherwise be very difficult to demonstrate a particular historical context. Byzantine chroniclers tell of a Slavonic invasion of Greece which took place apparently at the end of the year 578 or early in 579, as a result of which large numbers of Slavs settled in Greece... It is virtually certain that some of the destruction in the Athenian Agora, for which a date in the years immediately following the invasion is here proposed, was the work of the Slavs... Menander Protector, in his work chronicling the period ca. 560-580, writes as follows (...)"
 
Jun 2016
81
Sweden
The Old English word for slave was welisc. This word originates from ethnic Britons (English name of Britons is: Welsh):

Online Etymology Dictionary



The current English word slave is a late borrowing (it entered English language around year 1300 AD) from Old French esclave, which in turn was a borrowing from Medieval Latin (sclavus), which in turn was probably a borrowing from Byzantine Greek.

So the association of Slavs with slaves originally took place in the Balkans.

According to another theory it took place during the wars of Henry the Fowler and Otto the Great against Slavs (Wends) who lived in what is now East Germany, between the Elbe and the Oder.

But if that association originated from the Balkans, then I'm not at all sure whether it was due to Slavs being overrepresented among slaves, or due to the special way how Slavs treated their own slaves (which was described for example by "Strategikon" of Emperor Maurice). Emperor Maurice in his "Strategikon" noticed, that Slavs treated their slaves (captives) in different ways than others did.

Quote:

"(...) Slavs, unlike all other peoples, do not keep captives in perpetual slavery, but they demarcate for them a limited period of time, after which they give them a choice: they can either return home if they purchase their freedom, or stay among them as free people and friends. (...)"

So, according to "Strategikon", Slavic invaders used to incorporate Non-Slavic captives (slaves) into their ranks. They had an unusual habit of liberating their slaves and incorporating them into their own communities as free people - thus increasing their own numbers very fast, thanks to Slavicization of foreigners.

Thousands of Byzantine Empire's citizens were apparently enslaved and incorporated into Slavic tribes, becoming free. The majority of other peoples of that time used to keep their captives in perpetual slavery, rather than mixing with them.

If "Strategikon" was right, then Slavic tribes which emerged in the Balkans must have included many descendants of former Byzantine citizens who got captured by the "original Slavs" or by their allies, then liberated, then linguistically and culturally assimilated into Slavic communities.

This is also confirmed by other sources, for example by these excerpts from Procopius of Caesarea:

Procopius of Caesarea, Book VII, XIII - describing the events of year 545 AD:

Quote:

"(...) For a great throng of the barbarians, the Sclaveni [Slavs], had, as it happened, recently crossed the Ister [Danube], plundering the adjoining country and enslaved a very great number of Romans. (...)"

Another excerpt from Procopius:

"(...) In Illyria and Thracia, from the Ionian Gulf to Byzantine surrounding cities, where Hellas and Chersonese regions are situated, (...) the Sclavenes and the Antes, penetrating practically every year since Justinian administering the Roman Empire, were inflicting irreversible damage to their inhabitants. In each invasion I estimate 200,000 Romans were either enslaved or killed (...)"

And here an excerpt from John of Ephesus:

"(...) In third year after the death of Emperor Justin, during the reign of victorious Tiberius, the damned nation of the Slavs has risen, and marching through entire Hellas, through lands of Thessaly and Thrace, captured many cities and strongholds, plundered, burned and robbed, seized the land and settled there with full ease, without fear, like in their own land. (...) they were plundering the country, burning it and robbing, as far as the Great Walls [of Constantinople], and this is how they captured many thousands of cattle, as well as many other kinds of booty. (...) Until today, that is until year 584, they still continue to live in peace in lands of the Rhomaioi, without fear and concern, plundering, enslaving and burning, getting rich and highjacking gold and silver, capturing horses and plenty of weapons; and they have learned to fight better than the Rhomaioi. (...)"

Also a passage from Menander Protector:

"(...) About the fourth year of the reign of Caesar Tiberius Constantine, some hundred thousand Slavs broke into Thrace, and pillaged that and many other regions. As Greece was being laid waste and enslaved by the Slavs, with trouble liable to flare up anywhere, and as Tiberius had at his disposal by no means sufficient forces, he sent a delegation to the Khagan of the Avars. (...)"

Jordanes about the three branches of early Slavic-speaking peoples (ethnonym Slavs comes from just one of them - the Sclaveni):

"(...) These people, as we started to say at the beginning of our account or catalogue of nations, though off-shoots from one stock, have now three names, that is, Venedi, Antes and Sclaveni. (...) they now rage in war far and wide, in punishment for our sins (...) Though their names are now dispersed amid various clans and places, yet they are chiefly called Sclaveni and Antes. (...)"

Procopius of Caesarea once again (about Slavic foederati/mercenaries fighting under Belisarius):

"(...) Belisarius was eager to capture alive one of the men of note among the enemy, in order that he might learn what the reason might be why the barbarians were holding out in their desperate situation. And Valerian promised readily to perform such a service for him. For there were some men in his command, he said, from the nation of the Sclaveni, who are accustomed to conceal themselves behind a small rock or any bush which may happen to be near and pounce upon an enemy. In fact, they are constantly practising this in their slave hunts along the river Ister, both on the Romans and on the barbarians as well. (...)"

And also: http://www.ascsa.edu.gr/pdf/uploads/hesperia/147272.pdf

"There is clear evidence from the excavations of the Athenian Agora that the late sixth century witnessed some interruption in the peaceful course of town life in Athens. Certain buildings, for example, are known to have been burnt and temporarily or permanently deserted at that time. Finds of coinage, evidently concealed in haste or abandoned in emergency and never recovered, allow a date to be assigned to events, for which, although they are well attested by archaeological discovery, it would otherwise be very difficult to demonstrate a particular historical context. Byzantine chroniclers tell of a Slavonic invasion of Greece which took place apparently at the end of the year 578 or early in 579, as a result of which large numbers of Slavs settled in Greece... It is virtually certain that some of the destruction in the Athenian Agora, for which a date in the years immediately following the invasion is here proposed, was the work of the Slavs... Menander Protector, in his work chronicling the period ca. 560-580, writes as follows (...)"
Interesting.

So that's how Slavs became the most numerious linguistic group in europe: By liberating Slaves and "Slavifying" them ;)
 
Jun 2016
333
EU (still!)
The Old Norse word for slave was thrall:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thrall

Most of thralls originated from insolvent debtors who were sold into slavery due to being unable to pay debts. So they were mostly local Scandinavians. Some of them originated from foreign captives, but the term "thrall" has no ethnic colligations.

The Old Norse society was organized into several "castes":

- Konungrs (village chiefs)
- Jarls (the nobility)
- Karls (commoners)
- Thralls (unfree people)

It was similar to the "varnas" of the Indo-Aryan society:

- Brahmins ("white collar" elites)
- Kshatriyas (administrators, nobles)
- Vaisyas (artisans, traders, etc.)
- Sudras (the "working class")

And outside of that system were the "untouchables" (Dalits).
 
Jun 2016
333
EU (still!)
The latin word for slave is "servus"
Servus is Ancient Latin word for slave. Medieval Latin word for slave changed - and became sclavus.

Meanwhile servus - which used to mean slave in Ancient Rome - started to mean "Hello!" - Servus!

Ciao! (meaning "Goodbye!") originates from "schiavo", and "schiavo" ultimately comes from "sclavus":

https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ciao

"Ciao" è entrato nella lingua italiana solo nel corso del Novecento. Deriva infatti dal termine veneto (più specificamente veneziano) s'ciao ([ˈst͡ʃao]), proveniente dal tardolatino sclavus, traducibile come "[sono suo] schiavo".
This is quite funny - how did "sclavus" and "servus" transform into words for "hello!" and "goodbye!".
 
Dec 2013
266
Prague, Bohemia
The latin word for slave is "servus" but in all great western european languages the term that indicates slavery is connected with the word the that indicates slavs (slave,esclave,esclavo,schiavo,sklave) or at least so it seems... During the course of the history Germans appear to despice them particularly.
I read that the Crusaders that joined northern crusades considered themselves superiors to the non-civilized peoples who fought,and they were specially german,and the opionon of germans on slavic peoples during the Third Reich need no explanation .Nowadays slavic peoples in western europe are often associated whit rape,stealing and drunkennes,their country are also often considered as waste lands,dangerous and dominated by mafia.Looking the stats the situation is not so tremendous to me.Is there anyone that can answer this question?
Well, I would be careful with the Northern Crusades as they had more to do with religion rather than ethnicity and I doubt that the etymology of the word servus has much meaning to this problematic either; I would say that the "modern" Slavophobia came to be in 19th century - Generally speaking scholars from Western Europe considered Europe to be primarily a product of Romano-Germanic peoples and excluded the Slavs as a "foreign" and "inferior" element; this was also motivated by various geopolitical,political,social and even economic goals, for example there was a great fear of Russian Imperialism, that is that Russia (which in the eyes of many personified the "Slavdom" in general, even if that wasn't the case) would simply march to the Atlantic while conquering the rest of Europe. Also for example in Austria-Hungary Slavophobia (primarily from German and Hungarian nationalists) was partially a result of the demands of the Slavs living there for autonomy and language rights (As well as other nationalistic squabbles) and greatly exaggarated fear of the Russian version of Pan-slavism; in the German Empire there was a great deal of animosity from the nationalists towards the Poles living in it as they were foreign people in German "national space".

In Austro-Hungarian army during WWI there were officers who also blamed Slavs for the poor performance of the army be it for cowardice or flat-out cooperation with the enemy, although modern studies show that in numerous cases it was done just to cover their own incompetence by hiding behind popular prejudices.

These prejudices more-or-less persisted throughout the interwar era with its peak during the rise of Hitler, there was also not insignificant Slavophobia in Italy, partially as a result of the problematic relations between Yugoslavia and Italy; after WWII then came the Cold war and this revitalized some of the earlier concepts, being fueled by the propaganda campaign between the Socialist and Capitalist countries and post-1989 by the increasing emigration from Slavic countries.

---

All of these things caused prejudices against Slavs to appear and most importantly to persist; my overall point is that Slavophobia emerged in 19th century and continued in a more-or-less unbroken line to this modern day.
 
Last edited:
Jan 2014
1,989
Regnum Francorum (orientalium) / Germany
Ciao! (meaning "Goodbye!") originates from "schiavo", and "schiavo" ultimately comes from "sclavus":

https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ciao



This is quite funny - how did "sclavus" and "servus" transform into words for "hello!" and "goodbye!".
The explanation is in the text you quoted:

"Ciao" è entrato nella lingua italiana solo nel corso del Novecento. Deriva infatti dal termine veneto (più specificamente veneziano) s'ciao ([ˈst͡ʃao]), proveniente dal tardolatino sclavus, traducibile come "[sono suo] schiavo".
Sono suo schiavo = I am your slave (servant) or at your service

The expression was not a literal statement of fact, but rather a perfunctory promise of good will among friends (along the lines of "at your service" in English). The Venetian word for "slave", s-ciào ([ˈstʃao]) or s-ciàvo, derives from Medieval Latin sclavus, deriving from the ethnic "Slavic", since most of the slaves came from the Balkans.

This greeting was eventually shortened to ciào, lost all its servile connotations and came to be used as an informal salutation by speakers of all classes.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ciao
 
Jun 2016
333
EU (still!)
deriving from the ethnic "Slavic", since most of the slaves came from the Balkans.
And this is something that would require a hard proof.

I haven't seen any quantitative analysis showing from which regions did Medieval Italy import slaves.

I agree that the association between Slavs (ethnic name) and slaves appeared in the Balkans, but IMO it was related to Byzantine citizens who were enslaved by the "Proto-Slavs", and incorporated into their tibes, becoming ethnic Slavs.

As explained in post #3.

Physical appearance of South Slavs is intermediate between Mediterranean (Albanian, Greek, etc.) and North-East European. Which confirms that South Slavs originated largely from native Mediterranean people enslaved by the Proto-Slavs.
 
Last edited:
Aug 2016
338
Poland
Antislavic bias appeared mostly with birth of German nationalism since Bismarck times. It was necessary to justify the occupation of Slavic lands and of course it went further during Hitler times by defining Slavs as "underpeople" due to fact they occupied vital "lebensraum". German propaganda made a lot to fix this image. Later on all Slavic countries landed under "protection" of USSR not participating dialogue or historical debates of the West. West though was not very interested in Slavic history so far...
Recently however the deamons of past somehow were gone and German archeologists openly speak about Slavic settlement near Maine or Danes recognize Slavic participation in creation of the state.

I spent some time reading some XVIII century German history books. What is interesting they have much bigger interest in Slavic matters than XIX and XXth century German books. Some of them even try to present Slavs as offspring of Vandals etc. Till romantism times some figures of German culture were even trying to derive themselves from Slavic Obodrites with pride. Friedrich Nitzsche was trying to derive himself from Polish noblemen who he found as model version of "superhuman" - quite ironic. In past also Slavic countries had nothing against German settlers or German mercenaries, for example XVII century Polish infantry type was even called "Germans".

Reassuming : antiSlav bias is a product of Prussian and then Nazi nationalism and succesful myth spreading.


Very interesting thread with Strategicon. The question "how Slavs multiplied so fast" is still unsolved by historians studying Slavic expansion. Especially taking the mainstream theory that Slavs expanded from marshes of Prypet in Ukraine which area was not sufficient to produce hundreds of thousands depicted in Byzantyne chronicles.
Arabic sources show that propably Slavic "motherland" spreaded wider to east and covered what is moreless today Ukraine territory.
Still the model of Slavic expansion in Poland shows that they assimiliated willingly other populations. Archeological sites show that Slavic 'prague' type houses surrounded older population houses : Goths and Vandals and coexisted. While Slavic dwelling were more numerous the conclusion was that they assimiliated remains of East Germanic tribes in Poland.