Friday, July 19, 2013

 

European Slaves in the Medieval Period

For if the Vikings were the pioneers, the princes of Europe, or some of them, were the middlemen in the new slave-trade. They licensed it and they profited by it, though they left the direct traffic in it to the Jews, who could move most easily across the frontiers of the two societies. We have plenty of evidence of this trade and its routes ... Liutprand of Cremona, the ambassador of the West who, in the tenth century, stood agog before the kaleidoscope pageantry of the Byzantine court, tells us that it was the merchants of Verdun who, for the immense profit of the trade, made boys into eunuchs and sold them through Moorish Spain to the rich Moslem world ... The trade has left its mark in the languages of both Christendom and Islam. Sclavi, 'Slavs', has formed, in every European language, the word for slaves; and the same word, Sakaliba, has provided the Arabic word for eunuchs.

Source: Hugh Trevor-Roper. The Rise of Christian Europe. (Harcourt, Brace & World, 1965) p. 92.

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