Set a Slave Free. Ransom as a Social Connection in the Naples of the Modern Age
Études Balkaniques (Sofia), 2023, N 1
CNR-ISMed (Institute for Studies on the Mediterranean)
Abstract: In the Modern Age, the ransom of slaves and captives was a large-scale phenomenon. It responded to material interests and had an international breath, symbolic and social weight. In substance, it was part of a civilization. Hence, the historiographical questions about slavery appear countless. This paper focuses on the Neapolitan perspective by which ransom and relief disclosed pervasive social action, embodied purposes, and values. Naples was a multi-ethnic, populous capital and Mediterranean crossroads. In this context, the ransom of the Christian slaves – including the grey zone of the converts and renegades – worked as a uniting factor, shaping energies, social connections and groups. That happened in many ways. Three focuses emerge: the foundation of dedicated institutes that were also places of political negotiation and representation; the social collaboration around shared values and interests; and, last but not least, the relationships of trust materialized by the banking support and the merchant community.
Keywords: Mediterranean, Naples, ransom, slavery, captives, welfare