Socioecological Transition in Land and Labour Exploitation in Mallorca: From Slavery to a Low-Wage Workforce, 1229-1576

Jover i Avellà, Gabriel, Mas i Forners, Antoni, 1968-, Soto i Company, Ricard, 1954-, Tello, Enric
The permanence of slave labour until the 16th century was a lasting legacy of the late feudal colonization of the Mallorca Island. Through a large set of probate inventories and accounting books, we have documented the use of a great deal of slaves in farming large noble estates during the 14th and 15th centuries. The defeat of the peasant revolt of 1450-1454 offered to nobles and patricians the opportunity to seize much of the land previously colonized by Mallorcan peasants. This creation of a dispossessed peasantry, combined with new trade demands, led to a transition from slave-powered manorial farms to capitalist olive oil-exporting estates that took advantage of the low-wage workforce reserve. A peculiar feature was the massive use of women's gangs as olive pickers when olive oil became the main cash-crop exported from the 16th century onwards. By linking changes in work and land uses, this study brings to Southern Europe the debate over the driving forces of the emergence of agrarian capitalism.
Repository: Recercat: Dipósit de la Recerca de Catalunya