Western Christians enslaved by the Muslims between 1500-1800
Between 1500-1800 at least one million and even 1.25 million were enslaved.That is the conclusion of Robert Davis.His scholarly book on the theme is “Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters: White Slavery in the Mediterranean, the Barbary Coast and Italy, 1500-1800 “(2004). It was the done by the Muslim Moroccans,Tunisians and Algerians.
About 90% of those enslaved were men, and the women were destined to be sex slaves in a harem.Only 5% of them, like Miguel de Cervantes(1547–1616) and St. Vincent de Paul, were ransomed or escaped.
It is estimated that 600,000 Europeans were slaves in Algiers.
Here are articles about Davis’ book:
Vincent de Paul (1581-1660)
He was a priest of the Catholic Church who was dedicated to serving the poor. He is venerated as a saint in the Catholic Church and was canonized in 1737.
St. Vincent was born in Pouy, Gascony, France, to a family of peasant farmers. He had four brothers and two sisters. He studied humanities and he graduated in theology at Toulouse. He was ordained in 1600, remaining in Toulouse until he went to Marseille for an inheritance.
Made a slave by the Muslims
In 1605, on his way back from Marseille, he was taken captive by Turkish pirates, who brought him to Tunis and sold him into slavery.
1.It is said he was the slave of 4 different Muslims: a fisherman,later of a doctor,then of his nephew and then of an ex-Christian.
2.His last master was a European who had converted to Islam and after,along with the help of one of the man’s wives,converting his owner to Christianity, Vincent de Paul returned in 1607.He was a slave for 2 years and after converting his owner it was his master who freed him and helped him return to his homeland.
More about his life with the Muslims
Life with a searcher of the “Philosopher’s Stone”
Vincent, bought by a fisherman, was sold again to an aged Muslim, a humane man, who had spent fifty years in search of the “philosopher’s stone.“That is supposed to be a solid substance:
1. That either makes you live a very long time,even hundreds of years,or makes you live forever.
2.And also converts ordinary metals into gold.
His alchemist master grew fond of his Vincent de Paul, to who he gave long lectures on alchemy and Islam; he even promised to make Vincent his heir and also to communicate to him all the secrets of his science if he adopted the religion of Islam. The young priest said no.
Later on with the other masters
He lived with the old man until his death, when he became the property of his master’s nephew, who soon sold him to a renegade Christian, a Frenchman like Vincent. This man had three wives, one of who was a Turkish. She often wandered into the field where Vincent was at work, and out of curiosity would ask him to sing songs in praise of his God. With tears running down his cheeks Vincent would obediently sing certain Psalms.
The Turkish woman now began to reproach her husband for abandoning his religion, and kept on until, without herself accepting the faith, she made him return to it. He repented of his apostasy, and he and Vincent made their escape from Africa together. They crossed the Mediterranean safely in a small boat, landed near Marseilles.
His later life
After returning to France, de Paul went to Rome. There he continued his studies until 1609, when he was sent back to France on a mission to Henry IV of France; he served as chaplain to Marguerite de Valois. For a while he was parish priest at Clichy, but from 1612 he began to serve the Gondi, an illustrious family. He was confessor and spiritual director to Madame de Gondi, and he began giving preaching missions to the peasants on the estate with her aid.
1.In 1622 de Paul was appointed chaplain to the galleys.
2,In 1625 de Paul founded the Congregation of the Mission, a society of missionary priests commonly known as the Vincentians or Lazarists,who today number 4,000.
3. In 1633, with the assistance of Louise de Marillac he founded the Daughters of Charity.They were the first religious organization for women that was not cloistered,not limited to live in a convent,they could go to the streets and help the poor and sick.
Read this article about Cervantes,slavery and Islam
“Article II about the Enslavement of Christians in Literature:Cervantes and Algeria”