Slave rebellion

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A slave rebellion is an armed uprising by slaves. Slave rebellions have occurred in nearly all societies that practice slavery, and are amongst the most feared events for slaveholders. Famous historic slave rebellions have been led by the Roman slave Spartacus; the thrall Tunni who rebelled against the Swedish monarch Ongentheow, a rebellion that needed Danish assistance to be quelled; the poet-prophet Ali bin Muhammad, who led imported east African slaves in Iraq during the Zanj Rebellion against the Abbasid Caliphate in the ninth century; Granny Nanny of the Maroons who rebelled against the British in Jamaica; the Haitian Revolution, the only slave revolt which led to the founding of a country; Denmark Vesey in South Carolina, USA; and Madison Washington during the Creole case in 19th century America.

Ancient Sparta had a special type of serf-like helots. Their masters treated them harshly and helots often resorted to rebellions.[1] According to Herodotus (IX, 28–29), helots were seven times as numerous as Spartans. Every autumn, according to Plutarch (Life of Lycurgus, 28, 3–7), the Spartan ephors would pro forma declare war on the helot population so that any Spartan citizen could kill a helot without fear of blood or guilt (crypteia).

In the Roman Empire, though the heterogeneous nature of the slave population worked against a strong sense of solidarity, slave revolts did occur and were severely punished.[2] The most famous slave rebellion in Europe was led by Spartacus in Roman Italy, the Third Servile War.[3] This was the third in a series of unrelated Servile Wars fought by slaves to the Romans.

English peasants' revolt of 1381 led to calls for the reform of feudalism in England and an increase in rights for serfs. Peasants' Revolt was one of a number of popular revolts in late medieval Europe. Richard II agreed to reforms such as fair rents and the abolition of serfdom. Following the collapse of the revolt, the king's concessions were quickly revoked, but the rebellion is significant because it marked the beginning of the end of serfdom in medieval England.[4]

In Russia, the slaves were usually classified as kholops. A kholop's master had unlimited power over his life. Slavery remained a major institution in Russia until 1723, when Peter the Great converted the household slaves into house serfs. Russian agricultural slaves were formally converted into serfs earlier in 1679.[5] 16th and 17th centuries runaway serfs and kholops known as Cossacks (‘outlaws’) formed autonomous communities in the southern steppes.

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