Thursday, September 07, 2006

Ottoman Empire

In the Ottoman Empire after battles, winners often castrated their captives as a display of power. Castrated men — eunuchs — were often admitted to special social classes and were used to guard harems. Ottoman tradition relied on slave concubines for the "royalty" along with legal marriage for reproduction. Slave concubines were used for sexual reproduction to emphasize the patriarchal nature of power (power being "hereditary" through sons only). Slave concubines, unlike wives, had no recognized lineage.

Slaves in the Ottoman empire in general were brought from Eastern Europe and parts of Southern Russia. In the Islamic world slavery had religious rather than racial connotations, with most of the slaves in Ottoman history being Christians. The Ottomans had many European and Central Asian "Mameluk" slaves and the elite Janissary troops of the Ottoman army were all Christian-born slaves taken mostly from the Balkans.

Towards the latter part of the Ottoman Empire during the 19th century with the decline of its European territories the Ottomans began to import slaves from the sub Sahara via Egypt. Black slaves became a common sight amongst the Ottoman elite where they worked mostly in the households of rich Ottomans as servants or maids. When slavery was abolished in Turkey by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk some of these black former slaves moved from Istanbul to the city of İzmir and the surrounding villages.

Turkey has had no history of segregation on racial grounds and many of those both black and white who were the descendants of slaves have intermarried with the Turkish population.