The main difference between Slave and Serf is that the Slave is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work and Serf is a status of peasants under feudalism.
Slavery is any system in which principles of property law are applied to people, allowing individuals to own, buy and sell other individuals, as a de jure form of property. A slave is unable to withdraw unilaterally from such an arrangement and works without remuneration. Many scholars now use the term chattel slavery to refer to this specific sense of legalised, de jure slavery. In a broader sense, however, the word slavery may also refer to any situation in which an individual is de facto forced to work against their own will. Scholars also use the more generic terms such as unfree labour or forced labour to refer to such situations. However, and especially under slavery in broader senses of the word, slaves may have some rights and protections according to laws or customs.
Slavery began to exist before written history, in many cultures. A person could become enslaved from the time of their birth, capture, or purchase.
While slavery was institutionally recognized by most societies, it has now been outlawed in all recognized countries, the last being Mauritania in 2007. Nevertheless, there are an estimated 45.8 million people subject to some form of modern slavery worldwide. The most common form of the slave trade is now commonly referred to as human trafficking. In other areas, slavery (or unfree labour) continues through practices such as debt bondage, the most widespread form of slavery today, serfdom, domestic servants kept in captivity, certain adoptions in which children are forced to work as slaves, child soldiers, and forced marriage.
Serfdom is the status of many peasants under feudalism, specifically relating to manorialism. It was a condition of bondage, which developed primarily during the High Middle Ages in Europe and lasted in some countries until the mid-19th century.
Serfs who occupied a plot of land were required to work for the lord of the manor who owned that land. In return they were entitled to protection, justice, and the right to cultivate certain fields within the manor to maintain their own subsistence. Serfs were often required not only to work on the lord’s fields, but also in his mines and forests and to labor to maintain roads. The manor formed the basic unit of feudal society, and the lord of the manor and the villeins, and to a certain extent serfs, were bound legally: by taxation in the case of the former, and economically and socially in the latter.
The decline of serfdom in Western Europe has sometimes been attributed to the widespread plague epidemic of the Black Death, which reached Europe in 1347 and caused massive fatalities, disrupting society. The decline had begun before that date. Serfdom became increasingly rare in most of Western Europe after the Renaissance. But, conversely it grew stronger in Central and Eastern Europe, where it had previously been less common (this phenomenon was known as “later serfdom”).
In Eastern Europe the institution persisted until the mid-19th century. In the Austrian Empire serfdom was abolished by the 1781 Serfdom Patent; corvée continued to exist until 1848. Serfdom was abolished in Russia in the 1860s. In Finland, Norway and Sweden, feudalism was never fully established, and serfdom did not exist; however, serfdom-like institutions did exist in both Denmark (the stavnsbånd, from 1733 to 1788) and its vassal Iceland (the more restrictive vistarband, from 1490 until 1894).
According to medievalist historian Joseph R. Strayer, the concept of feudalism can also be applied to the societies of ancient Persia, ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt (Sixth to Twelfth dynasty), Muslim India, China (Zhou dynasty and end of Han dynasty) and Japan during the Shogunate. James Lee and Cameron Campbell describe the Chinese Qing dynasty (1644–1912) as also maintaining a form of serfdom.
Melvyn Goldstein described Tibet as having had serfdom until 1959, but whether or not the Tibetan form of peasant tenancy that qualified as serfdom was widespread is contested by other scholars. Bhutan is described by Tashi Wangchuk, a Bhutanese civil servant, as having officially abolished serfdom by 1959, but he believes that less than or about 10% of poor peasants were in copyhold situations.
The United Nations 1956 Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery also prohibits serfdom as a form of slavery.
A person who is the property of another person and whose labor (and sometimes also whose life) is subject to the owner’s volition.
A person who is legally obliged by prior contract (oral or written) to work for another, with contractually limited rights to bargain; an indentured servant.
A drudge; one who labours like a slave.
One who has lost the power of resistance; one who surrenders to something.
“a slave to passion, to strong drink, or to ambition”
An abject person; a wretch.
“Art thou the slave that with thy breath hast kill’d/ Mine innocent child? Shakespeare. Much Ado About Nothing.”
A submissive partner in a BDSM relationship who (consensually) submits to (sexually and/or personally) serving one or more masters or mistresses.
A person who is forced against their will to perform, for another person or group, sexual acts or services on a regular or continuing basis.
A device that is controlled by another device.
To work hard.
“I was slaving all day over a hot stove.”
To place a device under the control of another.
“to slave a hard disk”
A partially free peasant of a low hereditary class, slavishly attached to the land owned by a feudal lord and required to perform labour, enjoying minimal legal or customary rights.
A similar agricultural labourer in 18th and 19th century Europe.
A worker unit.