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MANUMI´SSIO was a legal act by which slaves and persons in mancipii causa were released from the manus or power of their masters, thereby acquiring freedom (Dig. 1, 1, 4, pr.; Inst. 1, 5, pr.). Accordingly the word manumissio is equivalent to e or de manu missio (cf. Voigt, XII. Tafeln, 2.77, n. 2). There were three modes of effecting a legal manumission according to Jus Civile (justa et legitima manumissio),--namely, vindicta, census, and testamentum,--which are enumerated both by Gaius (1.17) and Ulpian (Frag. 1) as necessary in order to free a slave and make him civis (cf. Cic. Top. 2, 10; and Plaut. Gas. 2.8, 68). Of these the manumissio vindicta was probably the oldest and, at one time, the only mode of manumission. It is mentioned by Livy (2.5) as in use at an early period, and indeed he states that some persons refer the origin of the vindicta to the event there related, and derive its name from vindicius: the latter part at least of this supposition is of no value.

Manumissio. by the vindicta was originally an action between a third person, who vindicated the freedom of the slave to be manumitted before the praetor, and the master of the slave, who was in the position of defendant. The form of the vindicta supposes, not that the person manumitted was a slave, but that he was a person whose freedom (libertas) was the matter in issue. Thus it had for its professed object the maintenance of a previously acquired status, and not the conversion of a slave into a freeman. The proceeding before the magistratus was in form an assertion of the slave's freedom (manu asserere liberali causa, Plaut. Poen. 4.2, 83), to which the owner made no defence, but allowed the slave to be declared by the magistratus a freeman.

The proceeding then was a species of in jure cessio, and was in fact a collusive action, which was based on the fiction of the slave's freedom. When the magistratus had pronounced in favour of freedom ex jure quiritium, there could be no further dispute about the libertas or about the civitas which was attached to libertas. The slave had been manumitted with the consent of the master by the act of the magistratus. The ceremony of the manumissio by the vindicta was as follows:--The master brought his slave before the praetor, since it was his province to exercise jurisdiction in civil causes. The praetor's lictor, who came to be used as adsertor libertatis, in order to save the trouble of bringing a person to take this part, holding a rod (vindicta or festuca) with one hand, and with the other laying hold of the slave, said, “Hunc ego hominem ex jure quiritium liberum esse aio,” at the same time touching him with the rod; the master then using the same formalities, and turning the slave round and releasing his hold of him, as seems to have been the custom ( “momento turbinis exit Marcus Dama,” Pers. Sat. 5.78), admitted his freedom, either expressly or by his silence, which was followed by the pronuntiatio of the magistratus, “Quandoque Numerius Negidius non contra vindicat, hunc ego hominem ex jure quiritium liberum esse dico.”

Addicere is the technical term to express this act of a magistratus by which he pronounced in favour of a right, in this case a right to freedom; it is so used by Cicero in respect of manumission (ad Att. 7.2; cf. Gaius, 2.24). This form of manumission derived its name from the vindicta or rod, otherwise called festuca, which was used in the proceeding (Plaut. Mil. 4.1, 15; Hor. Sat. 2.7, 76; Pers. 5.125; Gaius, 4.16). In course of time the formalities of manumissio per vindictam were very much curtailed. The master ceased to act as if he were party to an action (Dig. 40, 2, 23), and the presence of the lictor became unnecessary. All that seems to have been required in the time of Justinian was that the master should take his slave before the [p. 2.123]magistratus, wherever the latter was to be found,--it might be in the public road (in transitu), as when the praetor or proconsul was going to the bath or to the theatre,--and that he should declare to the magistratus his desire to have the slave manumitted (Gaius, 1.20; Dig. 40, 2, 8).

The manumission by the census is thus briefly described by Ulpian (1, 8): “Slaves were formerly manumitted by census, when at the lustral census (lustrali censu) at Rome they gave in their census at the bidding of their masters.” The slave must of course have had a sufficient peculium, or the master must have given him property, so that he might become a taxpayer. Manumissio per censum, like manumissio per vindictam, was not in form a manumission, but supposed the slave to be already free. It was the act of the censor in enrolling the slave on the list of citizens, which gave validity to the manumission, just as manumissio per vindictam was effected by the addictio of the praetor. Cicero tells us that there was a question of law whether a slave should be considered free immediately on being entered on the censor's roll, or not until the lustrum was celebrated (Cic. de Or. 1.4. 0, 183; see CENSUS); and this was a matter of some importance, for his acquisitions were only his own from the time when he became a freeman.

Manumissio per censum seems to have been a common mode of manumitting persons in mancipio, who had been surrendered on account of their offences (noxae dediti), and this form of manumission may have been first used for the purpose of manumitting such persons (Gaius, 1.140; cf. Voigt, XII. Tafeln, 2.143, n. 15; MANCIPII CAUSA). The republican institution of the census became obsolete under the Empire, and with it this mode of manumission; the last lustrum was under Vespasian, A.D. 74, up to which time since the beginning of the Christian era only two had taken place.

The law of the Twelve Tables confirmed freedom which was given by will. The earliest wills were made in the Comitia, and so testamentary manumission may at first have implied a legislative act, but the testamentum per aes et libram, which was recognised by the Twelve Tables, and which gradually superseded the testamentum calatis comitiis, was not executed before any public authority, though the witnesses required for its validity may have been regarded as representatives of the populus. [TESTAMENTUM]

There came to be three kinds of testamentary manumission:--1. Where a master by his will made a slave free and appointed him heres. 2. Where a master gave his slave a direct legacy of his freedom. 3. Where a person requested his heir or legatee to manumit a slave.

1. A testator might declare in his will that his slave should be free and heres, in which case on the death of the testator the slave became both free and heres, whether he wished to undertake the liabilities of the succession or not (necessarius heres, Gaius, 2.153; Ulp. Frag. 22, 11); it was common to manumit a slave and appoint him heres in a substitutional clause, in order to make intestacy impossible.

According to the law of Justinian, the appointment of a slave as heres by his master was sufficient to show an intention to manumit, without any express declaration of freedom, since a slave could not become heres.

2. Where freedom was given to a slave as a legatum, the slave acquired his freedom by the act of the testator, and this from the moment that the will took effect, if the bequest was absolute. A testamentary manumission might, however, be made subject to a suspensive condition, in this respect differing from manumission per vindictam or per censum. A slave who was made conditionally free by testament was called statu liber (Festus, 314, 67; Ulp. Fragm. 2, 1; Dig. 40, 7, 1); until the condition was fulfilled, he was the slave of the heres. If a statu liber was sold by the heres, or if the ownership of him passed to some one else by usucapion, he had still the benefit of the condition; a condition to this effect being contained in the law of the Twelve Tables. Although the statu liber was legally a slave, the peculium which he possessed at the death of the testator aid all subsequent acquisitions derived from it could not be taken from him by the heres, and might be used by him in order to fulfil the condition of his freedom, if this consisted, as was not unfrequently the case, in the payment of a sum of money to the heres. A slave who was made free directo was called orcinus libertus, because he had been made free by a person who was dead. (Cf. the application by Suetonius, Suet. Aug. 35, of the term orcini to certain senators of a low class.)

3. Where a slave was manumitted by an heir or legatee at the request of the testator, the will of the deceased only operated indirectly; the slave did not become libertus orcinus on manumission, but was the libertus of the heir or legatee who manumitted him. If the person who was requested to manumit refused, he might be compelled to manumit on application to the praetor. A man might request his heres or legatee not only to manumit his own slaves, but also slaves belonging to the heres or legatee or to any other person. In case of libertas being thus given to the slave of any other person, the gift of libertas was extinguished, if the owner would not sell the slave at a fair price.

The legal act of manumission was often followed by a religious ceremony in the temple of Feronia, where the freedman appeared clad in the toga or dress of a Roman citizen, and with a pileus, or particular kind of cap, on his shaven head. This last circumstance explains the expression “servos ad pileum vocare” (Liv. 24.32), which means to promise slaves their liberty in order to induce them to join in some civil disturbance (cf. Plaut. Amph. 3.4,16; Poen. 5.2, 2; Serv. ad Aen. 8.564). The pileus was still worn in the time of Justinian, since he declares that slaves who attend the funeral of their master with the cap of freedom on their heads (pileati) become Roman citizens (Cod. 7, 6, 1.5).

Manumission according to the forms recognised by the civil law not only made a slave free, but also civis. Besides the due observance of the legal forms, however, it was required that the manumissor should have quiritarian ownership of the slave, and that he should be of legal capacity, to perform the act of manumission. [p. 2.124]If a slave belonged to a person, but only under a praetorian title, he became Latinus and not civis on manumission. [LATINITAS] If several persons were joint owners of a slave, and one of them manumitted him in such form as would have effected complete manumission, if the slave had been the sole property of the manumissor, such manumissor lost his share in him, which accrued to the other joint owner or joint owners. Justinian enacted that, if only one joint owner was willing to manumit a slave, the others might be compelled to manumit on receiving the price fixed by law for their shares. If one person had the usufructus and another the ownership (proprietas) of a slave, and the slave was manumitted by the proprietarius, he did not become free till the usufructus had expired: in the meantime there was no legal owner (dominus).

The modes of manumission above described were of a formal and public character, but in course of time other ways of giving freedom to a slave of an informal and private kind came to be recognised. Thus a form of manumission inter amicos is referred to by Gaius and Ulpian (Gaius, 1.41, 44; Ulp. Fragm. 1, 10, 18), which was a declaration of a slave's freedom made by his master in the presence of friends, or it might be done by inviting the slave to table, or by writing a letter to an absent slave. These were not manumissions recognised by the Jus Civile, and so originally had no legal effect; but after a time the praetor protected the liberty of slaves who had been made free in this manner, so that they were free in fact (in libertate esse), though they had not the legal status of freemen (liberos esse). The Lex Junia Norbana gave then the status called Latinitas [LEX JUNIA NORBANA; LATINITAS]; finally under Justinian these manumissions were given the same effect as those belonging to Jus Civile, but it was required that they should be attested by five witnesses (Cod. 7, 6, 1.1). A new form of manumission--manumission in ecclesiis--was established by the Church, and first recognised by a constitution of Constantine, A.D. 316 (Cod. 1, 13): this manumission was carried out before the bishop in the presence of the congregation.

A manumissio sacrorum causa is sometimes mentioned as a kind of manumission, whereas The words sacrorum causa point to the cause and not to the mode of manumission. (Festus, s. vv. Manumitti, Puri; Savigny, Zeitschrift, vol. iii. p. 402.) A manumission by adoption is spoken of (Gel. 5.19; Inst. I, 11, 12); the form of adoption required the intervention of a magistratus.

Laws were passed under the early emperors for the purpose of preventing the degradation of civitas by an incautious exercise of the right of manumission. The Lex Aelia Sentia laid various restrictions on manumission [LEX AELIA SENTIA], particularly as to the age of the person manumitting, which was raised from fourteen to twenty, and as to the age of the slave, which was required to be thirty, as a general rule, in order to qualify him to become civis. Moreover it prevented slaves who had suffered an infamous punishment from becoming cives, and declared manumissions in fraud of creditors void. The lex was almost entirely repealed by Justinian, who abolished the division of freedmen into cives, Latini, and dediticii, making all freedmen cives. The Lex Fufia Caninia fixed limits to the number of slaves who could be manumitted by will; the funerals of the wealthy being often attended by a large number of freedmen, who had been manumitted by the deceased to the injury of their inheritance. The number allowed to be manumitted in this way was a half, one-third, one-fourth, and one-fifth of the whole number that the testator possessed, according to a scale fixed by the lex. As its provisions only applied to cases where a man had more than two slaves, the owner of one slave or two slaves was not affected by this lex. The exact date of the law is doubtful, but there is some evidence to show that it was passed A.D. 8; several senatus-consulta were passed to prevent evasions of it (Sueton. Aug. 40; Gaius, 1.42-46). This lex was repealed by Justinian (Cod. 5, 3). A tax was levied on manumission by a Lex Manlia, B.C. 357; it consisted of the twentieth part of the value of the slave, hence called vicesima (Liv. 7.16, 27.10; Cic. Att. 2.1. 6).

Manumission was as a rule optional on the part of a master, but in some cases it was obligatory, as in the case of a master treating his slave with extreme cruelty, according to a constitution of Antoninus Pius (Gaius, 1.53). The act of manumission, which made the slave a new man, established the relation of patronus and libertus between the manumissor and manumitted, which was a quasi-parental relation [LIBERTUS; PATRONUS]. When manumitted by a citizen, the libertus took the praenomen and the gentile name of the manumissor, and became in a sense a member of the gens of his patron.

Freedmen who became cives enjoyed public as well as private rights, but subject to various drawbacks. They had not the jus honorum, and they could only vote in one of the four tribus urbanae, not in the tribus rusticae, though various attempts were made to give them a better suffrage. [LIBERTUS; CIVITAS.] (Dig. 40, 1, 4; Holtzman, de Emanc. Jur. Rom. et Hod.; Becker, Alt. 2.1, 65; Unterholzner in Zeitschr. f. Gesch. Rechtswiss. 2.1391; Keller, Inst. 211, &c.)

[G.L] [E.A.W]

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