The allure of the Orient

August 9, 2012

“The fourteenth century saw the burgeoning of the slave trade in southern Europe. Girls, mainly from the Mongol world but also sometimes Greeks or Slavs (and therefor Christians), were herded onto ships; those who survived the harrowing trip across the Mediterranean were sold on the open market in cities such as Genoa, Florence, and Pisa. They were high-prestige purchases, domestic “servants” with the allure of the Orient.” (p324. ‘A Short History of the Middle Ages’, Barbara H. Rosenwein)

I find the middle ages incredibly interesting. It is like visiting life on a different planet. This quote is interesting for several reasons.

1. Human beings were sold in open markets in Christian cities. Almost on the doorstep of the Vatican. What was the Church’s reaction? The same I suspect as churches in many places in the world before slavery was abolished. (The Slavery Abolition Act 1833)

2. It was females that were sold. Either as an adornment in households. Or for sexual reasons. Women were property.

3. Humanity has been doing awful things to each other for a very long time. Much of it has to do with money. Is Greed the core of what it means to be a human being?

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