Slavery is a word well understood, but in the minds of most people, it is associated with the black slave trade from Africa to America across the Atlantic. Many people are not aware that a parallel form of slavery existed in the kidnapping of white men and women by North Africans and Arabs. The purpose of these captures was slavery. Another aspect of this slavery was white women (preferably virgins) to populate the harems of the Arab Sheikhs and Beys. The Arabs and the Moors were the foremost exponents of this trade as they had a penchant for fair and golden-haired white girls. This trade lasted much longer than the black slave trade and overshot it by hundreds of years.
The black trade was stopped by an act of legislation. This did not happen in the case of the white slave trade which ended only after the Arabs and Moors were militarily crushed by the European powers.
White Slave Trade: Nuts and Bolts
The onset of the white slave trade began when the Muslim arms conquered almost the entire North Africa and Spain. It was at its zenith when the Mediterranean Sea almost became a Muslim controlled lake with the Ottoman Empire at its zenith. Even after the defeat of the Muslims, the slave trade was taken over by Muslim pirates called the Corsairs.
The Corsairs were a daredevil lot and scoured the entire Mediterranean Sea. They also raided the coastal villages of Europe and kidnapped white girls. These girls have spirited away to the harems of the Arabs and sold at auctions where they earned a high price for the kidnapper.
White men were also kidnapped for ransom and to work as slaves. There are reports that King Richard the lionheart was also kidnapped and released when a large ransom was paid for him. As far as the kidnapping of girls from the European coastal villages is concerned, the effect was one of fear and many villages shifted deeper away from the coast, to escape from the marauding Muslim pirates.
later the Muslim pirates started a preference for Slav girls who were fair and had golden hair. Raiding parties roamed the Baltic and the Aegean Sea for these girls.
The Magnitude of White Slavery
The magnitude of slavery can only be estimated as no exact figures are available. Generally, it is estimated that the figure would be over a million. The Corsairs were the main exponents of this white slave trade and they also extracted a levy from the ships that sailed the Mediterranean Sea. In the period after 1609 in a span of a decade, almost 400 British ships were captured and the men made slaves and released only after a ransom was paid. Other who could not pay languished in Arab farms as workers and slaves till death.
Later Britain paid a tribute and their ships were spared. But nations and settlements close to the sea in SE Europe and the Slav areas bore the brunt of this slavery.
Breaking the Power of Kidnappers
A fact that has now emerged is the massive kidnapping and abduction of white girls as slaves for the harems of the Arabs. This menace lasted for hundreds of years and it continued until the 19th century. In 1814 the European powers signed a convention to outlaw the attacks of the Berbers and the Ottoman Turks.
The Christian nations now asserted and the rising White power inflicted heavy defeats on the Corsairs and the Turks. This rising European power led to the demise of the white slave trade. A point worth noting is that the slave trade in white women only stopped after the defeat of the Turks and Muslims and not by any act or edict.
End of White Slavery
The white slave trade is well documented by hundreds of books and many have been written after extensive research. There is thus not an iota of doubt that the trade of white particularly white women was a fact of history. Yet not much is talked about this slave trade as the general perception is that the slave trade concerned mostly the black man. However, there is a subtle difference which must be noted. The difference is that the white slave trade of white virgins was basically to populate the harems, where many white women lived a comfortable though secluded lives.
They lived in relative comfort unlike the black man who was chained and made to do hard labor and the black woman slept with the white man without any rewards or recognition and her children were also considered black.