n Acta Classica : Proceedings of the Classical Association of South Africa - The influence of Roman law on the practice of slavery at the Cape of Good Hope (1652-1834) : chairperson's address

Volume 50, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0065-1141
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This article investigates the extent to which Roman Law and received ideas about Roman slavery actually did form the basis on which slavery was practised and administered in the Cape of Good Hope between 1652 and 1834. Cape slavery was governed by issued in Batavia as well as in Cape Town, but, particularly in capital cases, recourse was had directly to Roman Law and to the Roman-Dutch writers such as Simon van Leeuwen, Joost de Damhouder, Ulrich Huber, Andreas Gail and others. These writers frequently cite actual Roman laws, especially when considering the appropriate punishment. At this stage of our knowledge of how Roman Law was used in these cases, it is not possible to say whether its effect was ameliorative or pejorative, but there is little doubt that it was used both by owners and slaves, prosecution and defence, from the beginning until the end of this period.

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