African slaves[edit source | editbeta]
As there were restrictions on the enslavement of Muslims or "people of the Bible", pagan Africa was a good source of slaves. Black slaves were coming from East and Central Africa, mainly from areas such as Abyssinia, Sudan, Northern Nigeria and Chad. Black slaves were employed in households and in the army as slave-soldiers. Some could ascend to high rank officials but in general were inferior to European and Caucasian slaves.
Slaves in the Imperial Harem[edit source | editbeta]
The concubines of the Ottoman Sultan consisted chiefly of purchased slaves. The Sultan's concubines were generally of Christian origin, as Islamic law forbade Muslims to enslave fellow Muslims. The mother of a Sultan, though technically a slave, received the extremely powerful title of Valide Sultan which raised her to the status of a ruler of the Empire (see Sultanate of women). One notable example was Kösem Sultan, daughter of a Greek Christian priest, who dominated the Ottoman Empire during the early decades of the 17th century. Roxelana, another notable example, was the favorite wife of Suleiman the Magnificent.
The concubines were guarded by enslaved eunuchs, themselves often of African origin. While Islamic law forbade the emasculation of a man, Ethiopian Christians had no such compunctions; thus, they enslaved and emasculated members of neighboring nations and sold the resulting eunuchs to the Ottoman Porte.
The Coptic Orthodox Church participated extensively in the slave trade of Nubian or Abyssinian eunuchs. Coptic priests sliced the penis and testicles off boys around the age of eight in a castration operation. The eunuch boys were then sold in the Ottoman Empire. The majority of Ottoman eunuchs endured castration at the hands of the Copts at Abou Gerbe monastery on Mount Ghebel Eter. African boys were captured from Abyssinia and other areas in Sudan like Darfur and Kordofan then brought into Sudan and Egypt. During the operation, the Coptic clergyman chained the boys to tables and after slicing their sexual organs off, they stuck a bamboo catheter into the genital area, then submerged them in sand up to their necks. The recovery rate was 10 percent. The resulting eunuchs fetched large profits in contrast to eunuchs from other areas.