The Islamic Trade in European Slaves

The following essay by Emmet Scott was published previously at The New English Review in a slightly different form. It provides apposite material to accompany Matt Bracken’s new novel, The Red Cliffs of Zerhoun.

The Islamic Trade in European Slaves

by Emmet Scott

It is common knowledge that for over a thousand years, Arab and Muslim slavers took enormous numbers of men, women and children from sub-Saharan Africa. What is not so well known is that they took equally large numbers of people from Europe. As with Africa, Arab slave-taking in Europe began in the seventh century — shortly after the rise of Islam — and continued virtually without interruption into the modern epoch.

Modern Western culture, with its Anglo-centric worldview, has an almost obsessive preoccupation with the European trade in African slaves, a trade that commenced in the late fifteenth century and ended in the mid-nineteenth, but seems to have little knowledge of or interest in the equally intense Muslim trade in European slaves during the same epoch. This is a strange state of affairs, given the fact that, in general, the Europeans enslaved by the Muslims between the fifteenth and nineteenth centuries were treated appallingly, and the trade had a long-term and devastating impact upon large areas of the continent.

As noted, Muslim slave-taking from Europe commenced almost immediately after the arrival of Islam on the world stage. These early slave raids had an immense impact upon European civilization and, as I have argued in some detail in Mohammed and Charlemagne Revisited, turned the entire Mediterranean into a war zone, broke the unity of the eastern and western branches of Roman civilization and Christendom in general, and essentially gave birth to the medieval world. With the Christian counter-attack, which commenced in the eleventh century with the Reconquista in Spain and the Crusades, Muslim slave-raiding abated somewhat, though it never actually ended. But following the emergence in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries of the Ottoman Turkish Empire, Islam was once again on the offensive; and with this renewed aggression came a vast expansion of the slave trade.

It is impossible to be precise or anything approaching it when talking about the number of slaves taken from Europe in the five centuries following the rise of Ottoman power. However, what is clear is that three main theatres of slave-raiding emerged. The first and by far the most important of these was in south-east and central Europe, where Ottoman armies engaged in annual assaults upon Christian territories. As the Turkish armies moved ever northwards and westwards they captured and enslaved great numbers of Europeans, the vast majority of whom were sold in Constantinople and Anatolia. Raiding Christian territories was incessant and we hear that, “The primary aim of the [Ottoman] raiders was the acquisition of booty. The most important booty was humans who could be sold at the slave markets for a high price. After a successful attack thousands of prisoners of war were driven to the Ottoman markets. … No one was safe in the endangered areas — nobles and serfs could equally become slaves.” (Eniko Csukovits, “Miraculous escapes from Ottoman captivity” in Geza David and Pal Foder (eds.) Ransom Slavery along the Ottoman Borders (Early Fifteenth-Early Eighteenth Centuries) (Leiden etc. Brill Academic, 2007) p. 5) As in other parts of the world, the Muslim slavers preferred young women and boys and these offered the highest price in the Turkish heartlands. Most of the boys were castrated and served as eunuchs, whilst the girls and women were destined for the harems of the Ottoman nobility.

It must not be imagined, as some might, that once a Christian territory was conquered and under tribute to the Ottomans that it was then immune from the attentions of the slavers. Unfortunately, this was not the case. Under sharia law the position of Christians was never secure, and Christian girls were regularly kidnapped by Muslim raiders and sold into the harems of Constantinople and Anatolia. In addition to this, Ottoman policy was to recruit Christian boys into the army, and these youths formed the elite core of Janissaries. But they were “recruited” by force, essentially kidnapped from their families and never again seen by them. So, although the Janissaries cannot, strictly speaking, be described as slaves, they were the victims of kidnap and forcible conversion to an alien faith. We should note, too, that rebellion against Ottoman rule, a common enough occurrence in Europe, was invariably met with savage reprisal, involving massacre, torture and enslavement; so that the total number of Europeans enslaved by the Ottomans grew, over the centuries, to enormous proportions. How many, it is impossible to say, mainly because no reliable records are available. However, it is beyond question that the number ran into many millions, with estimates ranging anywhere from ten to forty million.

The next most important theatre of the Ottoman slave trade was a vast swathe of eastern Europe incorporating all of modern Ukraine and stretching into Russia proper almost as far as Moscow and the Lithuanian/Polish border. From the middle of the fourteenth centuries these territories were raided incessantly by Islamicized Tartars from the Crimea (the Khanate of Crimea) and from present-day Kazakhstan and eastern Russia (the Nogai Horde). The worst of the raiding in Russia occurred from 1441 onwards when the Crimea, or Crimean Khanate (a kingdom much larger than the Crimean Peninsula), became independent. According to the historian Alan Fisher, up to three million Slavic peasants were enslaved by Tartar raiders operating from the Crimea between 1441 and 1774, when the Russians conquered the territory. (Alan Fisher, “Muscovy and the Black Sea Slave Trade,” Canadian American Slavic Studies, Vol. 6 (1972), pp. 575-94) Almost all of these were sold into the Ottoman Empire as eunuchs, harem women and galley slaves. These raids, virtually unknown among Westerners, are recognized by historians as playing an enormous role in retarding Russia’s economic and cultural development. They prevented the settlement and peopling of the Ukrainian steppe lands, a vast area which eventually was to become the breadbasket of Russia.

The slave-raids occurred on an annual basis, and reading contemporary accounts of them is harrowing. Consider for example the words of S. Herberstein, ambassador from Emperor Charles V to Muscovy in the 1520s, when he describes Mehmet Ghirey’s slave-hunting expedition of 1521:

“He took with him from Muscovy so great a multitude of captives as would scarcely be considered credible; they say the number exceeded eight hundred thousand, part of whom he sold Kaffa to the Turks, and part he slew. The old and infirmed men, who will not fetch much at a sale, are given up to the Tatar youths, either to be stoned, or to be thrown into the sea, or to be killed by any sort of death they might please.”

Mikhalon the Lithuanian wrote around 1550 in his book De moribus Tatarorum Litanuorum et Moscorum, “The Crimean Tatars have much more slaves than livestock. Therefore they supply them also to other lands. Many ships loaded with arms, clothes and horses came to them one after another from beyond the Pontus [northeastern Anatolia] and from Asia, and left always from them with slaves. … So these plunderers always are in possession not only of slaves for trade with other people but also have slaves for their own estates and to satisfy at home their cruelty and waywardness. In fact we often find among these unfortunate people very strong men, who, if not castrated, are branded on the forehead or on the cheek, and are tormented by day at work and by night in dungeons.”

It was to counter this incessant predation that the Cossacks, mounted peasant warriors, were originally formed; and indeed the Cossacks formed the vanguard of the resistance to the raiders over three centuries.

As we have seen, Alan Fisher and other historians estimate that during the three centuries of Tartar raiding about three million Slavic peasants from Russia, Poland and the Ukraine were captured and sold to the Ottomans. But even after the Russian conquest of the Crimea the trade in European Christians from the east did not cease; the Ottoman slavers simply directed their attentions further south, where the ancient Christian peoples of the Caucasus — Georgians, Ossetians, Circassians and Armenians — now became the prime objects of their predatory attentions. From this region a further one million slaves, at the very minimum, were transported into the Turkish heartlands between the seventeenth and late nineteenth centuries.

The third theatre of Ottoman slave-raiding against Europe was the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts of the continent. Muslim pirates had of course raided southern Europe continuously from bases in North Africa from the seventh century, but things took a turn for the worse in the sixteenth century when the whole of North Africa came under the suzerainty of the Ottoman Empire, either as directly administered provinces or as autonomous dependencies. Spurred by the demand for white-skinned slaves further to the east, North African pirates intensified their activities, capturing thousands of ships and rendering, within a few decades, long stretches of coast in Spain and Italy almost completely uninhabited. From the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries, it is estimated that the Barbary pirates captured and enslaved anything between 800,000 and 1.25 million Europeans. Their predation extended throughout the Mediterranean and even, on one occasion at least, as far as South America. They also on occasion raided far into the North Atlantic, taking slaves from the coasts of France, the Netherlands, Britain, Ireland, and even Iceland. But their main theatre of operation was the western Mediterranean, where islands such as Sicily, Sardinia, Corsica, and the Balearics suffered intensely. And their raids inflicted severe damage upon coastal towns and villages in Italy, France, Spain, and Portugal.

Whilst such depredations continued into the early nineteenth century, there was a little improvement towards the end of the seventeenth century, when European navies commenced regular patrols of the western Mediterranean and launched retaliatory raids against the pirates’ strongholds in North Africa. However, the ships and coasts of Christian states without such effective protection continued to suffer until the early years of the nineteenth century, and it was only after the Napoleonic Wars and the Congress of Vienna in 1814-15 that the European powers agreed upon action to suppress the Barbary corsairs entirely. After this several punitive attacks against Algiers and Sale in Morocco were launched by the British navy which almost, but not entirely, destroyed the slavers’ ability to raid. Nonetheless, so deeply ingrained was the freebooting tradition among the inhabitants of the region that even then there were occasional further incidents until the French invasion of conquest of Algiers in 1830.

At the height of their activities the Barbary States were so powerful that nations including the United States of America paid tribute in order to stave off their attacks.

It is important to note the impact of these activities upon Europe’s Mediterranean communities. The Christians of the islands, in particular — Sicily, Sardinia, Corsica and the Balearics — had to live with the perennial threat of surprise attack, and there can be no doubt that such conditions left an indelible impression. The paranoid culture of feuding, assassination and vendetta, for which Sicily and Corsica in particular were to become famous, has to be viewed in light of the persistent violence inflicted upon these lands by Muslim corsairs. By way of comparison, one has to imagine the probable impact upon the peoples of the British Isles and northern Europe had the Viking raids lasted a thousand years. And in this context it is perhaps worth noting that the word “Mafia” seems to be of Arabic origin.

What then of the total number of Europeans enslaved by the Ottoman Turks and their allies between the fifteenth and nineteenth century? By mainstream estimates, around one million were taken by the Barbary pirates; around three million by the Crimean Tartars from Russia/Ukraine; about one million by the Tartars and Turks from the Caucasus, and about ten million (by the most conservative estimate) by the Ottomans themselves from central Europe and the Balkans. This gives a grand total of fifteen million — far more than European slave-traders took from Africa in the same period. Yet this is a fact quite hidden from the public and unknown to almost everyone in Western Europe and North America. And the conditions endured by European captives in the Ottoman Empire were infinitely worse than those experienced by Africans in the Americas. The latter generally worked on plantations and were permitted, and even encouraged, to marry and have families. By contrast, the Europeans in the Dar al-Islam suffered a terrible fate. Able-bodied men were generally branded and put to endless back-breaking labour, either as galley-slaves or as miners. They were not permitted to marry and were denied all semblance of family life or female companionship. Young boys were invariably castrated — and raped — whilst women were consigned to the sex-slavery of the harem.

The great humanitarian impulse to end slavery, from the late eighteenth century onwards, came entirely from the Christian West, and by the mid-nineteenth century the practice was stamped out completely in most Christian lands. That slavery no longer exists (officially at least) in the majority of Muslim territories is due entirely to the efforts of Westerners, and in fact Muslim societies vigorously resisted all attempts by Europeans to stamp out the slave trade in Africa during the nineteenth and early twentieth century. It was not until the second half of the twentieth century that slavery was finally abolished in the Gulf States and the Arabian Peninsula — after intense Western pressure. Is it not about time that some of this information got through to students in our schools and colleges?

Emmet Scott is the author of Mohammed and Charlemagne Revisited: The History of a Controversy and The Impact of Islam. For his previous essays, see the Emmet Scott Archives.

59 thoughts on “The Islamic Trade in European Slaves

  1. It must not be imagined, as some might, that once a Christian territory was conquered and under tribute to the Ottomans that it was then immune from the attentions of the slavers.

    Echoes of this today in Egypt, where Copt girls are kidnapped on a regular basis, with no protection of the authorities.

    • Hi Dymphna,

      That is terrible news. I am glad that you shared this piece of information with us and create awareness of this issue.

      Thank You.

    • So, too, Christian girls in Pakistan, likewise with no protection from the (failed) state.

    • Hi Dymphna, (and Baron), good to see you about again. I had been polishing up on my knowledge of the history of slavery, which is thousands of years old, in various customs, of course. But I accidentally found a handy scholarly source, nicely notated with citations, that brings some extensive breadth and depth, to the Medieval period of Europe, coincidentally. Along with another source, perhaps of interest, to those who wish to explore further, without necessarily obtaining multiple history books physically for there even greater study.

      First the scholarly one, an unexpected source, good jumping off point, probably not too far off the truth, here: Slavery in medieval Europe

      Second, and of no idea of accuracy, is this: The forgotten European slaves of (black) Islamic Barbary North Africa and Islamic Ottoman Turkey

      Hope that proves of value to people, to learn a lot of guilt goes all around the nations, races, etc. History is a demanding mistress, one must see-accept, all the blemishes, if one becomes intimate with mistress history.

      And of the guilt, it doesn’t bring it out in these articles, but memory says slavery was practiced all over Asia, all over the globe, in Indian cultures, Asian cultures, etc. An evolving Judea-Christian abomination through history yes, but ubiquitous. Some heroes and good people, who condemned slavery, were unable to come to grips with renouncing it for themselves, although abolitionists, but it happened, at great cost, nevertheless, in America. It is one of many difficult subjects and realities people must weigh and deal with, in a complicated life. Made far more so in today’s so called colleges.

      Aside from the historic straight shooters of Hillsdale, the President of Ok. Wesleyan, with his brand new, second, book, goes a long way towards setting proper standards of reality, deeply needed by Americans, to be able to sort out things in this “garden of good and evil”. Dr. Everett Piper, President, “This is not day care…..”

      Wisdom, so treasured by the wise, is not easy to reach; work, effort are essential, and pain, for such a treasure.

  2. Re: “It was not until the second half of the twentieth century that slavery was finally abolished in the Gulf States and the Arabian Peninsula — after intense Western pressure. ”

    Indeed, and a number of Middle Eastern and African nations did not actually criminalize slavery until the early 21st century – Mauritania being one example of several.

    It is important to note that slavery was abolished in the Middle East not for humanitarian reasons, but for reasons of public-relations – i.e., Arab concern that open slavery would negative impact the lucrative oil and other forms of trade with the West.

    Slavery was not ended in the Middle East and other Muslim lands by legal decree. Rather, the practice persists but simply moved from the open market into the black-market and the underground economy. The taking of slaves is still extremely common in the Islamic world, especially in the Arab world and North Africa. With the large numbers of Muslims migrating to Europe, the practice has also ramped up in the West.

    The film “Taken” (2008) – while fictional, was based upon verifiable fact: the taking of young European girls and women as sexual slaves is unfortunately a very real problem in today’s Europe. As it was a millennium ago, the soldiers of Allah are promised the infidel women as prizes of jihad.

    The practice of taking fair-haired/fair-skinned infidel (European) women became so popular among Muslims that there is a specific descriptor of them in Arabic. Such female captives are termed “Banu al-Asfar” – which means literally “children of yellow,” a reference to the blonde hair so sought after by the Muslim raiders of Byzantium. Mohammed himself is alleged to have asked a new convert to Islam, “Would you like the girls of Banu al-Asfar?”

    “Is it not about time that some of this information got through to students in our schools and colleges?”

    This is unlikely to happen as long as our colleges and universities remain in the hands of the cultural Marxists, who are now allied with the Muslims in what is termed the “Islamo-Marxist” alliance. “The cultural Marxists have been teaching for years that slavery is an evil unique to European civilization” and they aren’t going to stop now – unless they are made to cease doing so in some manner, such as by cutting off their funding. Those who seek to defend western civilization will find few allies in the academy. That is the sad reality, at least for the time being.

    • Sex trafficking in the U.S. is big business. That was the purpose for all those little “accompanied children” surging in from Central America…and they mostly disappeared down an Obama-driven sinkhole. Their parents thought they were sending their kids to the land of plenty…

    • There are periodic cases in the US of A of Moslem immigrant families bringing their slaves with them listed as progeny. Some of them get caught out and to these we see short references in the press.

    • And that is why I wrote my novel “The Red Cliffs of Zerhoun,” and included these before and after the story:

      Oh Prophet! We have made lawful to thee thy wives
      to whom thou hast paid their dowries; and those
      slaves whom thy right hand possess out of the
      prisoners whom Allah has assigned to thee.
      Quran 33:50

      So enormous, so dreadful, so irredeemable did the
      (slave) trade’s wickedness appear that my own
      mind was completely made up for abolition.
      William Wilberforce

      All married women are forbidden unto thee save
      those captives whom thy right hand possess.
      This is a decree of Allah for thee.
      Quran 4:24

      You may choose to look the other way, but you
      can never say again that you did not know.
      William Wilberforce

      Slavery is part of Islam. Slavery is part of jihad,
      and jihad will remain as long as there is Islam.
      Sheikh Saleh Al-Fawzan
      Saudi religious leader

      Those who cannot remember the past
      are condemned to repeat it.
      George Santayana

      (The novel, which takes many character names from history)

      A historical note to readers:

      William Rainsborough, Zymen Danseker, Thomas Pellow, Jan Janszoon/Murad Rais, John Harrison, and Sidi Mohammed El-Ayyachi are all historical figures from the Barbary corsair era, and their exploits exceeded anything described in this novel.

      For example, the Dutch traitor (and convert to Islam) Jan Janszoon, also known as Murad Rais or Captain Murad, did, in fact, lead the pirate cartel in the Moroccan corsair port of Salé. In 1627, he led five ships and hundreds of Janissary troops to Iceland, where after days of plunder, rape, and mass murder, the Muslim raiders kidnapped 400 Christians into slavery.

      In 1631 Murad led another group of raiders to the village of Baltimore, Ireland, and abducted more than a hundred local inhabitants, mostly women and children bound for sex slavery. Between 1627 and 1632, pirates under the command of Murad occupied the island of Lundy in the mouth of the Bristol Channel, only twelve miles from mainland Britain. The island then served as a holding pen for captured Europeans prior to their being sent onward to the slave markets of Barbary.

      It is estimated that at least a million Europeans, mostly Spanish, French and Italian, were captured and taken to North Africa as white slaves between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries. Some of the land raids were massive and prolonged, such as one in Naples in 1544, when 7,000 Italians were captured, or Granada in 1566, when 4,000 Spanish were taken.

      But for every major land incursion, there were hundreds of smaller slave-catching raids and European ships captured at sea during the three-century-long “sea jihad.” Sea trade was crippled in the Mediterranean and along the Atlantic coasts of Europe. Vast regions were depopulated, their Christian inhabitants either kidnapped into Muslim slavery, or forced to flee inland, abandoning their coastal towns, villages and farms.

      If you would like to learn more about this curiously untaught European history, I recommend the following books:

      Caliphate, Tom Kratman, 2008, (Fiction, for mature readers, free download on Amazon Kindle.)

      Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters: White Slavery in the Mediterranean, the Barbary Coast and Italy, 1500–1800, Robert C. Davis, 2003.

      Pirates of Barbary: Corsairs, Conquests and Captivity in the 17th-century Mediterranean, Adrian Tinniswood, 2010.

      Slavery, Terrorism and Islam: the Historical Roots and Contemporary Threat, Peter Hammond, 2005.

      The Stolen Village: A Thrilling Account of the 17th-century Raid on Ireland by the Barbary Pirates, Des Ekin, 2006.

      Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates, Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger, 2015.

      White Gold: The Extraordinary Story of Thomas Pellow and Islam’s One Million White Slaves, Giles Milton, 2004.

      Wholly Different: Why I Chose Biblical Values Over Islamic Values, Nonie Darwish, 2017.

      (If you read only one of these books, read the last.)

      • I would add The Myth of the Andalusian Paradise, by Dario Fernandez-Morera

        Scholars, journalists, and even politicians uphold Muslim-ruled medieval Spain—“al-Andalus”—as a multicultural paradise, a place where Muslims, Christians, and Jews lived in harmony.

        There is only one problem with this widely accepted account: it is a myth.

        In this groundbreaking book, Northwestern University scholar Darío Fernández-Morera tells the full story of Islamic Spain. The Myth of the Andalusian Paradise shines light on hidden history by drawing on an abundance of primary sources that scholars have ignored, as well as archaeological evidence only recently unearthed.

        This supposed beacon of peaceful coexistence began, of course, with the Islamic Caliphate’s conquest of Spain. Far from a land of religious tolerance, Islamic Spain was marked by religious and therefore cultural repression in all areas of life and the marginalization of Christians and other groups—all this in the service of social control by autocratic rulers and a class of religious authorities.

        The Myth of the Andalusian Paradise provides a desperately needed reassessment of medieval Spain. As professors, politicians, and pundits continue to celebrate Islamic Spain for its “multiculturalism” and “diversity,” Fernández-Morera sets the historical record straight—showing that a politically useful myth is a myth nonetheless.

  3. Sure capitalism, free trade and commerce in general are good, but those movers and shakers who want to score really big are looking into leveraged slavery futures and their related derivatives. The one thing our little world has in comfortable excess is chumps with a bankroll.

    Look, in the Mediterranean galley of life, many must pull the oars so the few can dine on Greek salads and broiled fish in the shaded breeze. So choose carefully.

    And hang in there. Just remember, if you pay attention and play well, your long-run success becomes inevitable. For even a three-legged seeing eye dog will eventually stumble into the hegemony of a blind owner of a butcher shop.

  4. It’s still happening in Europe.Muslim sex gangs operating in Rotherham and in fact most British cities have been targeting white girls( 11 year old to 14 years old) and trafficking them up and down England.The latest case to come to light is an 18 member Muslim gang from Newcastle who in court claimed that “All white girls are trash and are there to be used by Muslim men”.Google Newcastle child grooming gang and you will see that lots of working class English girls are sold into prostitution by Muslim gangs in England.

  5. My father, Polish, after the Warsaw Uprising, being a German POW and then finding himself stateless in Italy in 1946 joined the British army. They had lost so many men in WW2 and still had an empire they needed to maintain. His first overseas posting was in the early 1950’s to North Africa in a tank regiment. He told me stories of them driving tanks around the desert and exploits in Tripoli and Benghazi. He also told me that one of the soldiers bought a wife at the slave market and married her. I think she had a university degree so she must have upset someone who then sold her as a slave. I believed what he said, but no one here in Australia would have believed me as they live in a “bubble” of ignorance. His next posting was the Malayan crisis driving tanks around the jungle.

  6. I understand that in the Balearic Islands, especially Mallorca, anual festivals are held in towns near the coast to celebrate the battles won against the invading pirates.

    These are good natured affairs, some of the population dressing up as Christians and others as Pirates. Can be seen on YouTube “Moros y Cristianos”

    One does wonder though, under present and ever more disagreeable circumstances, how long they will continue to be “good natured” and be used as an excuse to commit an atrocity by the ever increasing Spanish Muslim population.

    • It’s worse than that. In Spain, Muslim groups are pressing to have the annual Santiago Matamoros celebrations shut down because they are “Islamophobic”. The last time I heard, local Spanish governments were still holding out, but there are many, many non-Muslims in Spain (and all over Western Europe) from formerly Christian families who support this sort of PC nonsense. I don’t think any anti-Islamic traditions will be able to hold out for much longer.

      • And they will no doubt, sooner than later, succeed, aided and abetted by the same people who banned the cross from schools and other public places.

      • The literal translation of the English expression “The coast is clear” from Spanish, translates into “There are no Moors upon the coast” (no hay moros en la costa). Not too hard to wonder why.

    • There are also “Moros y Cristianos” events on the coast of Spain. I know, I attended one in Valencia.

  7. A “bubble of ignorance”, a good expression indeed.

    I was born at a time that suggests I won’t see the worst of what is coming, but that doesn’t mean I don’t care: on the contrary. However, there is little that I can do and I try to continue living my life. The price of trying to make even one person aware can be high. I tell myself that awareness within any person (arising from a desire to seek and know the truth)-and thus a change in their attitude and consciousness-must come from within, but the human psyche is stubborn and tends to reject, perhaps vehemently, whatever doesn’t fit its already-formulated world view. To try to change *others* is an undertaking which is likely to bring limited success, as I’ve learned from experiences in other areas of my life.

    I used to believe that human progress follows -with a few hiccups- an ever-upward trajectory but now I know this isn’t so. For Europe now, how can this possibly be the case, as a barbaric belief system masquerading as a religion, drip by trip, cut by cut, is gaining the ascendancy and not being resisted?

    Perhaps I’m off subject. If so, please feel free to delete!

    • It seems that we are possibly of the same generation.

      I would dearly like to return at the end of this century to see if my worst fears have taken place, or, if on the other hand, future generations have proved to be less cowardly than mine and woke up to the reality that surrounds them.

      In private coversations with people you do not know well and in newspaper comment sections (for how much longer, one asks oneself) peoples thoughts are generally the same as ours, but are afraid to express them publicly to avoid “upsetting” people.

      And it seems that every day that passes, more and more people consider that they have been “upset”.

      This may also explain why we feel we are fighting a losing battle when trying to explain our thoughts to family, friends and others: Normalcy Bias

    • The comedian, Evan Sayet, has a personal program to reach individuals. He choses one and works on them, gently I suppose. He was once a default lib but is now a start performer at Tea Party events – he tries to get people to love this country. Try educating people, one at a time. There is SO much ignorance.

  8. In communist Romania we was learning in schools at history about Ottoman Empire, that the ottomans during the raids were searching children, women and sometimes young men to taken as slaves. There are also movies produced in communist times about this, based on real facts. I do remember that we learned also a measure to keep the ottomans far from romanian territories, was to set fire to villages, poison all water sources and food in their way, and all people were moving to other villages forming small armies that during the night were hunting for janissary groups.

        • He was eating pork while Muslims were put in spears. Yes. And while they were still alive, he was putting pork fat on their face, while he was explaining to them what he is doing….and why.

        • He was prisoner of the Muslims for many years….he knew what and why he must do all this. From all prisoners he took during battles, one was saved and forced to watch all this. And after, send back to the ottoman.

  9. The impact of 17th C Barbary slaves raids on Britain is a neglected topic, particularly its effect on coastal communities in the South West (and the occupation of Lundy). Pepys mentions at least one slave raid but seems to accept them as a sad fact of life.

    Another neglected topic is the prevalence on slavery in Christian Britain up to the late 11th C, at the time of the Conquest around 10% of Anglo-Saxons were slaves, not well-treated ones either, and the Welsh were notorious for capturing women for concubines. We have the Normans (who had earlier abandoned slavery) to thank for bringing this epoch of British slavery to an end.

    • And the Vikings did the same, of course. I don’t know if they continued the practice into Christian times, but the Vikings took white European slaves and then sold them, sometimes to Arabs. Mind you, they also took North African Arabs as slaves — they weren’t discriminatory.

      They also kept small numbers of slaves themselves, as recorded in the Eddas. Those were known as “thralls” — the English word has come down to us from the Old Norse. Under Nordic law those thralls were property, and had fewer rights than a freeborn Dansk, Svensk, or Norsk. I’m not sure whether they had any customary rights at all; that is, whether a Northman could be penalized for damaging or killing a thrall.

      The sad truth is that all societies in those days considered slavery a normal institution. It had been the norm since time immemorial. There were no exceptions — groups that were numerous and powerful enough took slaves from among groups that were weaker and smaller. It was standard practice.

      When the Bible uses the word “servant”, it means “slave” — there were no servants other than slaves. People who were paid a wage — what we would call “employees” — were “workers”.

      The time we live in now is an anomaly. Our understanding of the institution slavery as an abomination in the eyes of God — for those who still believe in God — is the result of the ascendance of Christianity in the past three centuries. An ascendance now rapidly coming to a close.

      • Agreed that the word servant translates to slave in modern English; however, it is used in a Hebrew historical context so, I think, it would translate more accurately as bondsman. I might be wrong but I believe that Hebrew “servants” had to voluntarily bond themselves or as a matter of debt. I don’t think they could be taken by force. Also it would seem that the concept of the 50 year Jubilee, which is utterly unheard of in any other culture, would permanently preclude the creation of a hereditary slave class.

  10. Nothing stops a conversation about slavery and Islam cold quite like explaining to someone that you have ancestors who were survivors of an Islamic slave raid.

    My fathers hails from Skibberreen, Ireland where the survivors of the Baltimore raid in 1630 moved to after their village was destroyed in a raid and 102 of their loved ones carried off. They intermarried with the locals and it was my family’s tradition that several of our ancestors were survivors.

    We survived the famine because we were fishermen back in Baltimore and knew how to live off the sea.

    The look on peoples faces when you are deep into a conversation about Islam and counter with that fact is priceless. The silence deafening as they struggle comprehend what you are saying.

    • I think a lot of people stuggle to comprehend what is happening nowadays, let alone nearly 400 years ago.

  11. A history of Europe that I had not heard of until now. I now understand why Columbus wanted to find a new world, the old portion had been overrun. The centuries of the great exploration were merely efforts to flee a rapacious enemy that could not be eliminated.
    BTW, if you look it up in the Book of Leviticus you will find that kidnapping for ransom or flesh mongering (selling into slavery) is a capital offense and if the offender is caught with the kidnapped human execution is immediate and without mercy. Our “Lindberg Law” is based upon that section of the Torah. I am certain that England has a similar law. Why aren’t they enforced? Hmmm?

    • Actually the primary reasons for the Age of Discovery were the twin hopes of making contact with the mythical Prestor John, a sworn enemy of Islam who held a Kingdom somewhere in the Orient beyond Persia; and the circumvention of the Caliphate which had choked off trade with the far East, which had thrived for millennium previously.

  12. This is such a great site. I have used so many articles here as a springboard to learn more. Also the “thoughts” of the people who comment are instructive. I like coming here. Thank you all.

  13. The Reconquista in Portugal and Spain started in 718 (VIII th century).

    Our lands were depopulated, for centuries, by Muslim raiders; all cultural facilities were destroyed (as libraries)
    They took: young men (5-14) they castrated; young breeding females. Children under five, men and old people were just murdered.
    Some were ransomed soon, but others waited years this was an income to Moors. People that were rescued put their chains on churches walls. In Portugal, they were taken down by Liberals (supporters of French Revolution); you can still see some in Spain, but Socialists and Podemos (Trotskyist party supported by Venezuelan president Maduro),want to put them down.
    Play fights of Mors and Christians disappeared in Portugal, but they still exist in S. Thomas (S. Tomé-Africa). Leftist parties in Spain want these theatrical plays to stop and also the statues of Santiago Matamouros (Saint James, Muslim killer) to be destroyed.
    Not only Barbary pirates raided our coasts -English did it too and sold captives in the North of Africa.

    If any of you make a travel to Portugal you’ ll see hundreds of ‘castles’ and batteries along the coast, most of the XVIIth century. From 1415 to 1769 Portugal conquered several coastal towns in Morocco ‘s shores to stop pirates

    • Vlad Tepes has designed a sterling silver cross based on the traditional one of Santiago Matamourous. I bought a copy, here:

      Scroll down the sidebar on the right-hand side and you’ll see the picture of his design. It looks like he sold out and then was able to restock so they’re available now. The shipping costs are included – and they can be expensive if you’re not in Canada.

    • It is unfortunate that the Portuguese and Spanish were not able to expand and consolidate their late Reconquista gains in North Africa.

      Imagine how beautiful that area would be if Morocco and Algeria were largely landlocked, insignificant rump states.

      • yes, me too, I have often thought what a wonderful surrounding we might have had all the mediterranean coasts remained in christian hands.
        As a retiree , I could spend winter in Algeria or Lebanon, even buy property there… just dreaming.

    • Would I be right in saying that “reconquista” means re-conquer, which didn´t actually start until quite a few centuries later, and ended in 1492 when Granada fell (and Columbus arrived in America).

      Worse than Maduro / Chavez, Podemos are also indirectly financed by Iran.

  14. Today’s papers (UK) report on a family of ‘Travellers’ found guilty of holding people, mainly homeless or with learning disabilities, against their will, taking any money they have, and terrorising them into forced labour. This is not the first case of Travellers holding vulnerable people in the UK for forced labour.

  15. I attended an excellent high school in the 1980s. I recall reading in history classes about the expansion of Islam and even a little about the Barbary pirates. However, I do not recall reading in history classes back then about slavery under Islam.

    I learned about slavery under Islam from reading outside school. Not only from non fiction books, but also from fiction: an adventure novel where the Ottoman empire was important to the story’s plot.

  16. “Is it not about time that some of this information got through to students in our schools and colleges?”

    I am a History teacher and I do my best to teach real History and counter the wall-to-wall lies and propaganda that constitutes modern, so-called, “Education”.

    Here is an information sheet I created (you won’t find this in any ‘normal’ school history textbooks) to teach the Crusades to Y7 pupils because it lays out quite simply the stark facts:


    Towards the end of his life: “the Prophet of Allah wrote to Chosroes (King of Persia), Caesar (Emperor of Rome)[actually Heraclius, Emperor of Byzantium], Negus (King of Abyssinia) and every (other) despot inviting them to Allah, the Exalted” telling them, “embrace Islam and you will be safe”.
    A story (Hadith) about the life of Mohammed, by Bukhari

    What we call the “Middle East” or “Muslim World” today was once mostly Christian with large Jewish, Zoroastrian and Polytheist (Arab) minorities. How did this change?

    • 635 A.D. Three years after Mohammed’s death Muslim forces captured Damascus (where St. Paul was heading when he had his dramatic conversion).
    • 636 A.D. Muslim forces take al-Basra.
    • 637 A.D. Muslim forces take Antioch, where the disciples of Jesus were first called, “Christians”.
    • 638 A.D. Muslim forces take Jerusalem, the Holy City of both Christianity and Judaism.
    • 639 A.D. Muslim forces invade Egypt, a largely Christian country.
    • 642 A.D. Muslim forces take Alexandria, destroying its Great Library.
    • 650 A.D. Muslim forces take Cappadocia (in modern day Turkey).
    • 652 A.D. Muslim forces launch attacks against Sicily, eventually conquering it in 827 A.D.
    • 668 A.D. Muslim forces launch the first siege of Constantinople (Byzantium), many more were to follow.
    • 711 A.D Muslim forces begin the invasion of the Iberian Peninsula (modern day Spain).
    • 715 A.D. Spain completely conquered by Muslim forces (an occupation that would last for more than 700 years), they begin to press on into France.
    • 732 A.D. Muslim forces finally stopped at Tours, Northern France, by Charles Martel, King of the Franks.
    • 792 A.D. Muslim forces launch a jihad (called by Hisham, Muslim ruler of Spain) against France, but are turned back after sacking several cities, killing many and enslaving more.
    • 838-972 A.D. Muslim forces take Frejus, near Cannes and use it as a base to raid France and Northern Italy. Christian pilgrims to Rome are frequently robbed, murdered and kidnapped by Muslim slavers in the Alps.
    • 846 A.D. After nearly two centuries of increasing raids on southern Italy, Muslim forces sack Rome, desecrating the tombs of St. Peter and St. Paul, destroying many churches and carrying off hundreds of slaves.
    • 848 A.D. A third Muslim army crosses the Pyrenees and invades France, once again destroying towns and cities, killing and enslaving before being driven back.
    • 870 A.D. Muslim forces capture the island of Malta.
    • 873 A.D. Muslim forces launch massive slave raids in Calabria, Northern Italy, leaving the province devastated and depopulated for generations.
    • 878 A.D. Muslim forces destroy the city of Syracuse, killing most of its inhabitants and enslaving the survivors.
    • 935 A.D. Fatimid Muslim forces capture the city of Genoa, Northern Italy.
    • 976 A.D. The Fatimid Caliph of Egypt sends repeated military expeditions to Southern Italy for slaves and booty.
    • 1004-14 A.D. The sixth Fatimid Caliph, Abu Ali al-Mansur al-Hakim, destroys thirty thousand Christian churches, seizing their lands and possessions.
    • 1003-1009 A.D. Muslim Saracen raiders increase attacks on the Italian West coast, including Pisa and Rome, from their base on Sardinia.
    • 1009 A.D. Hakim destroys the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (in Jerusalem), he orders Christians to wear heavy wooden crosses and Jews to wear heavy wooden calves around their necks.
    • 1010 A.D. Hakim orders Christians and Jews to accept Islam (convert) or leave his dominions.
    • 1010 A.D. Muslim forces capture the city of Cosenza, in Southern Italy.
    • 1056 A.D. Three hundred Christians are expelled from Jerusalem and European Christian pilgrims are denied access to the (rebuilt) Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
    • 1071 A.D. Muslim forces crush the Byzantines at the battle of Manzikert, taking the Byzantine Emperor, Romanus IV Diogenes, prisoner.
    • 1076 A.D. Muslim forces (Seljuk Turks) conquer Syria, a Christian country.
    • 1077 A.D. The Seljuks take Jerusalem, slaughtering over three thousand Christians and Jews.
    • 1077 A.D. Onwards, the Seljuks attack Christian pilgrims, killing and enslaving thousands and denying access to the Holy Land to European Christians.
    • 1095 A.D. The Byzantine Emperor, Alexius I Comnenus, sends a letter to Pope Urban II, asking for help.
    • 1095 A.D. At the Council of Clermont, Pope Urban II calls for European Christians to defend Constantinople and reopen access to the Holy land and, especially, Jerusalem; the First Crusade.

    In the full historical context, the First Crusade can be seen as a defensive response to four hundred and sixty years of Muslim wars, invasions, conquest and slave raids against Christian Western Europe and the Byzantine Empire.
    The First Crusade was called by Pope Urban II in response to desperate pleas for help from the Emperor of Constantinople, Alexius Comnenus. An army composed of many European nationalities succeeded in recapturing Jerusalem in 1099 AD and guaranteeing safe passage for Christian pilgrims.”

    God bless

    • Great list and additional comments, maybe flesh it out with a bit more detail for the earlier period especially and then post around various sites, as an article too.

  17. It is common knowledge that for over a thousand years, Arab and Muslim slavers took enormous numbers of men, women and children from sub-Saharan Africa.

    Actually, in my experience, this simply isn’t true.

    All people talk about is… the Americans and their slave trade!

  18. All very interesting [and horrific]. I particularly wonder about the effect of Islamic slave-taking in Africa. Would the various nations of Africa have advanced in civilization with the rest of the world if their population hadn’t been persistently culled and enslaved for many centuries?


    • Please, don’t use all caps, that’s considered shouting. People are more likely to skip your comment if it’s all caps.

  20. That you for posting this excellent and informative article!

    Jay Smith of Pfander Films has also been focusing on the topic of slavery in Islam. Jay frequents Speakers Corner in London and engages in polemics with the Muslims. He is fearless. Not only does he speak about Islamic slavery, but also about the lack of credibility of the Quran. Get acquainted with him. Here’s a link to his presentation on slavery in Islam; what he says entirely supports this article.

    Here you can get an idea of what he does at Speakers Corner:

    Pfander Films YouTube channel:

  21. The situation in Nigeria is no different, girls are kidnapped, charmed to denounce their parents & relatives & protected by their traditional rulers (emirs) & the govt. does nothing. To add salt unto injury, the president is an islamist who is seeking to convert the whole country to his damned religion (can’t work though).

  22. I read
    White Gold: The Extraordinary Story of Thomas Pellow and Islam’s One Million White Slaves
    not long after it came out, borrowed from local public Library.

    I would recommend buying one online.

    One of the problems was that after Thomas Pellow escaped by being smuggled out in trading ship, he was an embarrassment back home and was outcast.

  23. Well, now I have a possible source for the otherwise inexplicable 3% Middle Eastern DNA from my southern French ancestors.

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