manumission (man-y<<schwa>>-mish-<<schwa>>n), n. [Latin manumissio “I send out of hand”] Roman law. The granting of freedom to a slave. • In the Republic and early Empire, there were three usual methods, all of which made the freed slave a citizen. These were (1) manumission vindicta (by the rod), a fictitious lawsuit in which a liberator touched the slave with a wand or rod in the presence of the praetor and alleged that he was free; (2) manumission censu,
by which the slave’s name was enrolled in the census as a citizen; and (3) manumission testamento, by will. Under Justinian, a grant of freedom in any form (except in fraud of creditors) made the slave free and a citizen. — Also termed manumissio. [Cases: Slaves 22.]
“Manumission is a kind of new birth. The master (patronus) therefore stands to his freedman in a relation analogous to the relation between father and son. The patron, as such, is entitled, as against his libertus, to a father’s rights of succession and guardianship. He has the right of moderate chastisement (levis coercitio). He has the same claim to be treated with respect as he has against his son. He can claim to be supported by the libertus, if he falls into poverty. He is, lastly, entitled to certain services on the part of the freedman, which he can, if necessary, enforce by action, provided only the freedman had promised them after his manumission and in a manner not derogatory to his liberty.” Rudolph Sohm, The Institutes: A Textbook of the History and System of Roman Private Law 170 (James Crawford Ledlie trans., 3d ed. 1907).
manumission censu.The freeing of a slave by having the censor enter the slave’s name on the census roll, the slave professing to be a freeman in the presence of the master. • Once the censor entered the slave’s name on the census roll, the slave became a freeman and a citizen — by a simple stroke of the pen. — Also termed manumissio censu.
manumission sacrorum causa.The freeing of a slave by the master’s solemnly declaring that the slave was to be free while holding a limb of the slave and promising to pay a sum of money if the freedman later departs from the sacra (family rites). • The master then turned around and released the slave, who became free but was bound to perform the family rites. — Also termed manumissio sacrorum causa.
manumission testamento.The freeing of a slave by will in either of two ways: (1) the master’s granting the slave freedom outright in the will, or (2) the master’s imposing on an heir the obligation of freeing the slave, in which case the slave became the freedman of the heir. — Also termed manumissio testamento.
manumission vindicta.The ceremonial freeing of a slave whereby a third party, in the presence of the praetor, placed a rod (vindicta) on the slave while claiming that the slave was a freedman, whereupon the master admitted the slave’s freedom and the praetor then declared the slave to be free. • This ceremony was actually a fictitious action at law. — Also termed manumissio vindicta.
[Blacks Law 8th]