A history of Verona, by A. M. Allen. Edited by Edward Armstrong, with twenty illustrations and three maps. Page: 55 of 493
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THE SELF-GOVERNING COMMUNE 37
of personal freedom, however limited. Several of the statutes
of I228, nevertheless, refer to serfdom, if not to actual slavery,
as still existing. There were two distinct classes of unfree men,
the famulus and the servus (though all unfree women were
styled ancilla). Both the famulus and servus were rather serfs
attached to the soil than domestic slaves, but the latter seems
to have been bound to his master by closer ties than the
former, and to have been regarded in some ways as personal
property. A man was responsible for damage done by his
servus, but not for the misdeeds of his famulus. On the other
hand, if a servus was condemned to death for a crime, no other
penalty was exacted from his master, the loss of the serf being
evidently regarded as sufficient punishment in itself. If a free
woman was married to an unfree man for five years or more the
children were unfree. Similarly the children of an unfree man,
and sometimes even his brother and sister, were regarded as the
serfs of his master. It is doubtful, however, if the actual
condition of the free peasant was preferable to that of the unfree.
The country districts were at all times very insecure, and
during war the fields were constantly exposed to plundering at
the hands of friend and foe alike. The free peasant was liable
to endless burdens, both personal and pecuniary, demanded
now by the Commune of Verona, now by his own rural Commune,
now by the party exercising jurisdiction over the latter,
whether it were the central authorities, or a noble, or one of the
great ecclesiastical bodies. Small wonder, then, that there was
then as now a constant drift of population from the country
into the towns, especially into Verona itself. More than one
statute was passed with the object of repressing this tendency,
and encouraging a contrary movement. Any inhabitant of a
rural Commune who came to live in Verona, had to continue to
pay the taxes of his own Commune as long as he held land there,
nor could he rank as a citizen unless he and his wife dwelt in
Verona for at least eight months in the year. But if a townsman
migrated into the country he was exempted from all local taxes
for five years. Indeed such was the desire to attract labour to
the land that even greater privileges were continually offered to
settlers by the rural authorities and the large landowners.
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Allen, A. M. A history of Verona, by A. M. Allen. Edited by Edward Armstrong, with twenty illustrations and three maps., book, 1910; New York. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc1025/m1/55/: accessed May 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .