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A slave does not dream of freedom, or wonder at possibilities. You think only of your master's desires, and what the next hour will bring.Fenris

The plight of slavery[1]

Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. The slave trade has existed in Thedas since ancient times and is still common despite only being legal in Tevinter.

History[]

Elvhenan[]


This section contains spoilers for:
Dragon Age: The Masked Empire.


According to Felassan, the ancient elves instituted an oppressive class-based system against their own kind.[2]



This section contains spoilers for:
Trespasser.


Slavery was practiced by the Evanuris, with both 'servants' and 'slaves' apparently used interchangeably.[3] Vallaslin were used as slave markings to represent the gods that nobles favored.[4] During the height of elven slavery in Elvhenan led by the Evanuris, refugees and runaways streamed to a sanctuary created by Fen'Harel. There their wounds were tended and their vallaslin removed while they learned the truth about the elven 'gods'. The former slaves took up arms at the side of the Dread Wolf and fought back against their former oppressors.[5]


Tevinter Imperium[]

As the elven homeland was invaded and destroyed by the Imperium, the elves were quickly enslaved.[6]

Servani a constellation of a slave that is thousands of years old

In ancient times, during the height of this practice, slaves numbered in the millions.[7]

During the first Exalted March against the Tevinter Imperium, a group of elven slaves freed themselves from slavery under the leadership of Shartan.[8] Shartan was dedicated to the emancipation of all elves from the bonds of slavery and agreed to fight alongside Andraste. His role in the conflict against the Imperium is detailed in the Canticle of Shartan.[9]

Slavery in Tevinter was briefly abolished, an act that had the potential to cause untold damage to the Imperial economy. The ruling Archon who ordered the abolition was quickly assassinated and slavery reintroduced.[10]

When the Imperial Highway was under construction, Kirkwall was the center of the Tevinter slave trade as the site of the empire's largest quarry.[11]

Dwarven Empire[]

Slaves were present in the ancient dwarven empire.[12]


This section contains spoilers for:
Dragon Age: Origins.


The Anvil of the Void was invented to create golems to battle the darkspawn which threatened the dwarven empire. Golems were initially created using only volunteers, though King Valtor eventually forced casteless, criminals, and political enemies to be sacrificed on the Anvil.[13] The spirits of dwarves were trapped inside the golems, beholden to the will of the one who held their control rods.[14]


Present day[]

A shipload of slaves[15]

A qunari slave[16]

Slavery is still practiced in Thedas despite the slave trade being outlawed in every nation except Tevinter.[17] Tevinter slavers may also travel to other nations to capture or purchase slaves.[18]

Tevinter Imperium[]

While Tevinter slaves used to be predominantly elven, they are now a mix of mostly elves and humans. [16]

Free people may choose to sell themselves into slavery to provide for their families. Those slaves who are purchased by the Imperium itself rather than private individuals are called Servus Publicus, or state-owned slaves.[19]

Slaves in a private home can be assigned to specific tasks, such as being a kitchen slave, a scribe,[20] a bodyguard or handmaiden[21]. They are given as presents and can be sacrificed in blood magic rituals.[22] If they show promise as a warrior, they may receive training as an assassin or a mage-killer.[23]

Slaves have to ask for permission to marry and can only legally be set free before a judge, with the owner present to formally state the slaves have been granted freedom, or by the owner's will upon his or her death. These emancipated slaves are known as Liberati, a subclass with limited rights and are not considered citizens. Liberati can serve as an apprentice in trade or join the Circle of Magi. Liberati may also own property, but cannot join the military and rarely have a say in governance.[24][25]

Slave revolts are a common occurrence.[26] While illiteracy among slaves is widespread, they have developed a system of pictograms to communicate with one another.[27]

The slave section of Coracavus

The Venatori used dwarves as slave labor to unearth dwarven ruins in the Hissing Wastes.[28]

Par Vollen[]

The Qunari use a substance called qamek to strip those who refuse to convert to the Qun from their identities, turning them into mindless labour forces called viddath-bas. Elven spies for the Qunari may voluntarily sell themselves back into slavery in order to move undetected through non-Qunari lands, particularly Tevinter.[29]

Antiva[]

The Antivan Crows are known to purchase recruits.[30]

Orlais[]

Although the slave trade is illegal in Orlais, nobles may own elven slaves.[31]

Known slaves[]

Slaves in a loading screen image in Dragon Age II

  • Alarith – an escaped elven slave of the Tevinter Imperium, now living in the Denerim alienage
  • Cyrion Tabris – depending on the Warden's origin, he may be taken by Tevinter slavers in lieu of Valendrian; if the player is not a city elf, Cyrion may have been sent to Tevinter in Valendrian's place, as he is not seen in the cells or the alienage and does not appear otherwise
  • Fenris – a former Tevinter slave and elven warrior branded by his master, Danarius, with Lyrium tattoos that augment his skills; Fenris' mother was also a slave
  • Fiona – an Orlesian elven mage, elected Grand Enchanter in 9:40 Dragon; formerly a Grey Warden; Fiona was the slave of Count Dorian before she slew him with magic and was sent to a Circle of Magi in Orlais, from where she was recruited into the Grey Wardens
  • Golems – are considered to be slaves of their masters, they are in fact dwarves turned into stone or steel living constructs
  • Justinia – a Tevinter human slave; disciple and friend of Andraste
  • Lanaya – a City elf and mage turned Dalish elf and First to Zathrian; as a child the merchant's cart she and her family were traveling in was attacked by bandits, Lanaya was then taken and kept as a slave until Zathrian freed her
  • Orana – an elven slave to Hadriana; she may be rescued by Hawke and given employ as a servant or slave in their mansion, or sent off on her own during the quest A Bitter Pill, potentially to the Chantry; her father and grandfather were also slaves, the former sacrificed by Hadriana along with others to gain the power to protect herself from Fenris (the sacrifice happens prior to Hawke and Fenris arriving)
  • Shartan – an elven slave inspired by Andraste, who along with the elven slaves of the Tevinter Imperium fought at her side during the First Exalted March, winning the Dales for the elven people; sometimes known as "Thane" Shartan
  • Tallis – an elven agent of the Qunari; her parents sold her as a slave in the Tevinter Imperium; she was saved by Qunari who then recruited her into their ranks (as with all Qunari, Tallis is her title rather than her name)
  • Varania – an elven mage and sister to Fenris; her current status is disputable as she is described as a servant in a court seeking to become apprenticed to a magister when she appears in Dragon Age II, and Fenris bartered for her and their mother's freedom; Varania's freedom, however, was not a blessing to her and she has had to essentially indenture herself to magisters to survive
  • Zevran Arainai – an Antivan elf purchased at age seven by the Antivan Crows to be trained as an assassin; his enslavement is somewhat open to interpretation; while one is not allowed to leave the Crows once a member, Zevran seems to consider himself more an indentured servant, as he feels his work with the Crows prior to the events of the Fifth Blight have repaid his debt to the guild

Known slavers[]

Tier evolution of a Tevinter Slaver from Heroes of Dragon Age

  • Branka – depending on player's choice during the main quest A Paragon of Her Kind, Branka can reclaim the Anvil of the Void and restore golem production
  • Caladrius – during the Fifth Blight, he went to Denerim and under the secret permission of Teyrn Loghain Mac Tir, he was shipping the elves from the Denerim Alienage to Tevinter; Devera as well as other Tevinter soldiers were his accomplices
  • Caridin – the inventor of the Anvil of the Void; Caridin eventually resorted to forcing dwarves to become golems at the behest of King Valtor; he eventually became a golem himself, spending an eternity suffering the torment he had inflicted upon others
  • Danarius – a Tevinter magister who arrives to Kirkwall in order to retrieve Fenris, "his property", after Hadriana fails to do so
  • Devon – a Tevinter lord involved in acquiring slaves for the Imperium from the southern regions of Thedas; he worked with Isabela as the Armada's "procurer" in the north
  • Dorian – an Orlesian Count and the former owner of Fiona, who slew him with magic (not to be confused with Dorian Pavus)
  • Dorian Pavus – is a slave owner by means of his parents Aquinea Thalrassian and Halward Pavus; after his time in the south, Dorian started using servants instead of slaves in his household[33]
  • Hadriana – she is sent by Danarius along with a contingent of slavers to capture Fenris
  • Hawke – if the player chooses to take Orana on as an unpaid servant in the Hawke Estate; Leandra, Hawke's mother, will assume Orana is a slave no matter what the player decides
  • Isabela – was involved in transporting slaves to the Imperium when she owed money during her time with the Felicisima Armada; she and Devon are responsible for the deaths of multiple slaves during transportation
  • Maevaris Tilani – she states that "everyone" in the Tevinter Imperium has slaves; her dream in the Fade involves slaves serving herself and her late husband, Thorold, indicating the life to which she was accustomed to, or aspired to have
  • King Valtor – he was the dwarven king who ordered casteless and criminals to be forcibly turned into golems in order to fill the ranks of his armies and achieve victory against the darkspawn

Codex entries[]

Codex entry: The Bone Pit Codex entry: The Bone Pit
Codex entry: The Enigma of Kirkwall Codex entry: The Enigma of Kirkwall
Codex entry: Kirkwall - The Gallows Codex entry: Kirkwall - The Gallows
Codex entry: Slavery in the Tevinter Imperium Codex entry: Slavery in the Tevinter Imperium
Codex entry: Constellation: Servani Codex entry: Constellation: Servani
Codex entry: A Magister's Needs Codex entry: A Magister's Needs
Codex entry: A Missing Slave Codex entry: A Missing Slave
Codex entry: The Secret Tongue of Slaves Codex entry: The Secret Tongue of Slaves

Notes[]

  • Andoral, one of the Old Gods, is known as "The Dragon of Slaves" and "The Dragon of Chains".

References[]

  1. Dragon Age II concept art
  2. Dragon Age: The Masked Empire, pp. 278-285, 291, 303, 316-317
  3. Codex entry: Vir Dirthara: Signs of Victory
  4. Mentioned by both Solas and Corypheus in Dragon Age: Inquisition.
  5. According to Solas and the memory walls at the elven ruins in the Trespasser DLC.
  6. Dragon Age logo - new.png Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 2, p. 38
  7. Dragon Age logo - new.png Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 1, p. 66
  8. Codex entry: Dark Moon
  9. Dragon Age logo - new.png Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 2, pp. 66-69
  10. Dragon Age II: The Complete Official Guide, "Tevinter Imperium"
  11. Codex entry: The City of Kirkwall, Codex entry: Kirkwall - The Gallows
  12. Mentioned by Corypheus in Legacy DLC.
  13. Dragon Age logo - new.png Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 2, p. 92
  14. Dragon Age logo - new.png Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 2, p. 91
  15. Featured in Dragon Age: Those Who Speak
  16. 16.0 16.1 Dragon Age logo - new.png Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 1, p. 78
  17. Codex entry: Slavery in the Tevinter Imperium
  18. Such as Caladrius in Denerim or Varian Ilithis in Kirkwall
  19. Dialogue with Cremisius Aclassi
  20. Codex entry: A Missing Slave
  21. Description of Aurora's Freedom
  22. Codex entry: Slavery in the Tevinter Imperium
  23. Short Story: Paying the Ferryman
  24. Dragon Age logo - new.png Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 1, p. 58
  25. Dragon Age logo - new.png Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 1, pp. 78-79
  26. According to Fenris.
  27. Codex entry: The Secret Tongue of Slaves
  28. Dwarven Slaves in Venatori Hands war table operation
  29. Codex entry: Qunari of Other Races
  30. Dragon Age logo - new.png Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 2, p. 96
  31. Codex entry: Slavery in the Tevinter Imperium
  32. Codex entry: History of Kirkwall: Chapter 2
  33. Dragon Age: Tevinter Nights, Luck in the Gardens
  34. Dragon Age logo - new.png Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 1, p. 81
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