Historian Claims in New Book that More than a Million White Europeans Were Captured by North African Slave Traders





Rory Carroll, in the Guardian (March 11, 2004):

North African pirates abducted and enslaved more than 1 million Europeans between 1530 and 1780 in a series of raids which depopulated coastal towns from Sicily to Cornwall, according to new research.

Thousands of white Christians were seized every year to work as galley slaves, labourers and concubines for Muslim overlords in what is today Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria and Libya, it is claimed.

Scholars have long known of the slave raids on Europe. But American historian Robert Davis has calculated that the total number captured - although small compared with the 12 million Africans shipped to the Americas in later years - was far higher than previously recognised.

His new book, Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters: White Slavery in the Mediterranean, the Barbary Coast, and Italy, 1500-1800, concluded that 1 million to 1.25 million ended up in bondage.

Prof Davis's unorthodox methodology split historians over whether his estimates were plausible but they welcomed any attempt to fill a gap in the little-known story of Africans subjugating Europeans.

By collating different sources of information from Europe over three centuries, the University of Ohio professor has painted a picture of a continent at the mercy of pirates from the Barbary Coast, known as corsairs, who sailed in lanteen-rigged xebecs and oared galleys.

Villages and towns on the coast of Italy, Spain, Portugal and France were hardest hit but the raiders also seized people in Britain, Ireland and Iceland. According to one account they even captured 130 American seamen from ships that they boarded in the Atlantic and Mediterranean between 1785 and 1793.

In the absence of detailed written records such as customs forms Prof Davis decided to extrapolate from the best records available indicating how many slaves were at a particular location at a single time and calculate how many new slaves were needed to replace those who died, escaped or were freed.

To keep the slave population stable, around one quarter had to be replaced each year, which for the period 1580 to 1680 meant around 8,500 new slaves per annum, totalling 850,000....


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Kenneth T. Tellis - 4/17/2004

That is very true because even Khair-ed-Din Barbarossa captured a French ship and sold the French Empress Josephine's niece who was returning from a convent in Oceania to the Sultan of Turkey, who made her his concubine. Then there is the story of the Islamic Holy City of Meknes in Morocco, in which 20,000 European Christian captives were buried alive in its walls. Not to speak St. Geronimo who was drown in a vat of cement by his Tunisian captors. I wonder is there is any room for a case against Muslim Arab states for reparations to Europe for all these act of inhumanity? WE only hear of the case for people of African descent demanding reparations for the inslavement of their ancestors. Perhaps Europeans should now demand reparations from Arab states for the enslavement of Europeans in the past. Of course I have never heard that members of African states or the Nation of Islam demanding reparations from Arab states for the slave trade that Mohammed Ali of Arabia, who in the seventh century was sent by Mohamed Ibn Abdullah, the founder of Islam to bring back slaves from Africa, who he considered chattel. I guess it would not suit them, so they have not gone in that direction. So, why should any Western country pay one cent to Africans for their enslavement in the past.


Kenneth T. Tellis - 4/17/2004

That is very true because even Khair-ed-Din Barbarossa captured a French ship and sold the French Empress Josephine's niece who was returning from a convent in Oceania to the Sultan of Turkey, who made her his concubine. Then there is the story of the Islamic Holy City of Meknes in Morocco, in which 20,000 European Christian captives were buried alive in its walls. Not to speak St. Geronimo who was drown in a vat of cement by his Tunisian captors. I wonder is there is any room for a case against Muslim Arab states for reparations to Europe for all these act of inhumanity? WE only hear of the case for people of African descent demanding reparations for the inslavement of their ancestors. Perhaps Europeans should now demand reparations from Arab states for the enslavement of Europeans in the past. Of course I have never heard that members of African states or the Nation of Islam demanding reparations from Arab states for the slave trade that Mohammed Ali of Arabia, who in the seventh century was sent by Mohamed Ibn Abdullah, the founder of Islam to bring back slaves from Africa, who he considered chattel. I guess it would not suit them, so they have not gone in that direction. So, why should any Western country pay one cent to Africans for their enslavement in the past.

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