I was thinking about African American culture and how it still shows signs of these people descending from slaves, US slavery having been abolished less than 150 years ago. And I asked myself, what is that subculture going to be like a few hundred years in the future? Then it hit me. That’s where my subculture is now.
I’ve made the point before that all my readers are descendants of royalty. But a far greater percentage of our pedigrees lies with the slaves. All currently living members of the various European ethnic groups have ample slave ancestry.
Slavery was common in Iron Age Scandinavia and is particularly well documented for the era’s final part, the Viking Period. It survived into the High Middle Ages, though apparently at a far smaller scale. This was probably due largely to the 11th century introduction of Christianity. Sweden kept issuing Viking-style raiding fleets into the 13th century, but these operated within a Crusade framework against pagans on the eastern shores of the Baltic, and slave-taking does not seem to have been on the agenda. A 1337 law code finally made it illegal to enslave the child of Christian parents, and since no other religion than Christianity was tolerated, this effectively meant abolition within the ensuing generation. Meanwhile, internal colonisation on marginal land meant that by 1400 the grand-children of the last slaves, though nominally free, were tenant crofters on poor dependent farmsteads and worked for the grand-children of the last slave owners.
A difference from the US situation is that phenotypically, European slaves were not very different from their owners. Written Scandinavian sources do occasionally describe slaves as swarthy, but they dwell more on them being ugly, stooped, unwashed and uncouth. To recognise a Viking Period slave, you couldn’t look at his facial features, skin or hair. What gave him away was his bearing, his manner and his clothes. And Viking Period Scandies made no attempt to keep a tenuous colour line. Sons sired by aristocrats on their slave women could unproblematically be raised as lordlings.
Love and desire are largely colour blind among humans absent strong conditioning. African Americans of today don’t look like Western Africans (and not just because of slave-era rape). And as the centuries pass, I guess the difference between “white” and “black” Americans will blur even more, until racial profiling no longer works if a policeman wants to avoid giving the mayor’s son a speeding ticket too many. And so new subcultures will form.