Source: Manumission in Cyprus
These documents come from a register belonging to Lamberto di Sambuceto. Lamberto was a notary, a legal professional whose job was to draw up documents and contracts for all kinds of transactions. Since each document includes a clause stating the date and location where it was produced, we know that Lamberto began his career in the town of Chiavari in northern Italy in 1282, traveled to the Black Sea 1288-1291 and to Cyprus 1296-1307, then returned to Genoa in northern Italy, where he continued to work until 1319. In these two fairly typical documents, Lamberto recorded the manumission of two enslaved women in Cyprus. Note that references to Roman law concerning slavery continued to appear in manumission contracts in the 14th century: freed slaves were granted Roman citizenship, and their former masters could choose to keep or waive the rights of patronage and ingratitude.
Translated from the Latin by Zachary Kime. Published in Notai genovesi in Oltremare: Atti rogati a Cipro da Lamberto di Sambuceto (gennaio – agosto 1302), edited by Romeo Pavoni. Collana storica di fonti e studi 49. (Genoa: Universita di Genova, Istituto di medievistica, 1987), 199-200 and 335-336, docs. 168 and 280. This translation CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.
Document 168 – 1302, April 16, Famagusta
In the name of the Lord, amen. I, lady Sibilia, wife and heir of the late Vidalis de Sauro of Genoa say as both mother and legitimate administrator of my children and of my said late husband in the presence, by the consent and will of Baliani, my son, and of the witnesses written below, for this specially called and invited. I manumit and I send away by my own hand you, Maria, of the race of Magarabi, my slave. I free you from every chain of service so that you are able to enjoy every kind of pure and clean freedom concerning the rest and (so that you are able) to be in court with every honor, reward, and benefit of flourishing Roman citizenship giving to you and conceding you full and free faculty of being in court, of buying, of selling, of exchanging, of witnessing, of making a will, and making a contract in all ways as a free woman without any obstacle of service and (without) opposing contradiction and of me, my children and of any kind of persons on behalf of me and them. Which manumission and liberty, all and the rest, I indeed promise and agree with the scribe written below, accepting in your name, to hold established and firm and not to oppose in anything concerning the abovementioned. Also in this liberty and manumission remitting to you the right of patronage and of ingratitude and all rights which the laws grant me. Done in Famagusta, in the house in which the said lady Sibilia is staying, on April 16. Witnesses called and invited: Richobonus shoemaker, Iohanes shoemaker Cordoxius de Beruto, Ansermus Guidonis and Marinus Corbolanus. Which liberty or manumission I indeed made for you for the remedy of the soul of my said late husband, and of me, and of my children.
Document 280 – 1302, August 7, Famagusta
In the name of the Lord, Amen. I, Raymondus de Ugone de Malcrea of Genoa, release and send away by my own hand you, Maria, my slave and daughter of the late Costa of Trebizond. I free you from every chain of service so that you are able to enjoy every kind of pure and clean freedom concerning the rest with the honor, reward, and benefit of flourishing Roman citizenship, giving to you and conceding you free ability and full faculty of buying, of selling, of witnessing, of making a will, and making a contract in all ways as a free woman and free man without any obstacles of service. Which manumission and liberty, all and the rest, I indeed promise to have and hold established and firm and not try or oppose in anything concerning the abovementioned. Otherwise I promise to give and pay you a penalty of double the amount as often as it may have acted against you, with the scribe written below accepting and guaranteeing in the name of the said Maria, with all mentioned above being held firm. For the sake of these things being observed and applied, I pledge all my goods, that I had and have, to you, accepting in the said name. Also remitting to you, the said Maria, the right of patronage and of ingratitude. Which manumission and liberty I therefore made and make for you for the remedy of my soul. Done in Famagusta, next to the position of Berthozius Latinus, spice merchant, on the seventh of August. Witnesses called and invited: Anthonius de Fabro, broker, and Boninus broker of Genoa, his son-in-law, and Iohanes de Sancto Petro Arene of Genoa similarly.
 In other words, Maria came from the Maghrib, the western part of North Africa.
- The language in each of these documents is very similar. Why is that significant? What differences do you notice, and what do they imply?
- What rights and privileges are granted as part of the act of manumission? Why is Roman citizenship mentioned?
- Who are the witnesses to each document? Why are their occupations mentioned?