The Expansion East
While United States was expanded westward, Russia was expanding east creating a vast empire. At the height of the Russian Federation‘s expansion it covered one sixth of Earth‘s land surface which is comparable to the total landmass of North America. Today Russia is one eighth of the worlds’ total landmass. As it is, it’s twice the size of the United States and spanning nine time zones. Only the British and Mongol empires were greater in size. See more here.
The Greeks were First to Expand into Russia
The Greeks were the first to appear in the written history of Russia, settling on the northern shores of the Black Sea around 700 B.C. It would take another 1500 years for the Vikings to establish their presence in Russia. Forming what would come to be know as Kievan Rus, they secured trade routes to Persia and Byzantium. Four hundred years later the Mongols hordes ubiquitously made their way through Rus territory driving the inhabitants into the western forest lands were they lived in moderate safety. Those who lived on the frontier of Rus lands became know as the Cossacks. It was during this time that the Ukrainian Zaparozhian Sich entrenched themselves on the Dnieper bend and the Russian Don Cossacks on the Don River bend. It would be the Crimean Khanate that would eventually perpetuate continuous raids, known as the “harvesting of the steppe” not only into Russia but also into Poland. Until the end of the Eighteenth century Barbary pirates and the Crimean Khanate enslaved 12.5 million men, women, and children over the course of four and a half centuries. Many of these slaves found themselves sold by Slavers into the Ottoman Empire.
White Slavery of the East – Black Slavery of the West
On opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean are two very different stories of slavery. Black slavery of the west is well known while White slavery of the east is hardly mentioned in western culture, although it did exist. The story of slavery is as old as time, showing up in Egyptian and Aztec history in very different forms, practicing atrocities that built kingdoms on both side of the great pond. The question is can civilizations rise above a certain point without slavery? Is slavery a mechanism for growth, since empires without forced manual labor are doomed to failure? Do those in power turn a blind eye to the poor and indigent leaving them to face slavery? Is the root of slavery related to the survival of the fittest explaining why civilizations rise and fall? Let’s examine both.
Slavery in the Ottoman Empire
One estimate suggests that at any one time twenty percent of Istanbul was made up of slaves. Even moderately well-off families could afford one slave to carry out the basic chores. The sultan, for instance, was entitled to one-fifth of all the men captured in war. From the time of Fatih Sultan Mehmed, rulers used slavery to ensure their own safety and the safety of the throne by establishing a palace school. The personal slaves of the sultan were educated and trained in manners, literature and arms. The very brightest continued on with their schooling and could be promoted to higher and higher ranks within the palace itself or the bureaucracy. The less intelligent would be assigned to élite military units which either served as palace guards or held key positions whenever the army went to war. Slaves, however, became less important as time went by since officials who had been educated in the palace wanted their sons to be educated as well. The same held true for members of the military. See more here.
Slavery in the Southern States
Slaves in the antebellum South constituted about one-third of the southern population. Most slaves lived on large farms or small plantations; many masters owned fewer than fifty slaves. Slave owners sought to make their slaves completely dependent on them, and a system of restrictive codes governed their lives. They were prohibited from learning to read and write, and their behavior and movements were restricted. Many masters took sexual liberties with slave women, and rewarded obedient slave behavior with favors, while rebellious slaves were brutally punished. A strict hierarchy among slaves (from privileged house slaves and skilled artisans down to lowly field hands) helped keep them divided and less likely to organize against their masters. Slave marriages had no legal basis, but slaves did marry and raise large families; most slave owners encouraged this practice, but nonetheless did not hesitate to divide slave families by selling individual members. See more here.
Slavery of a Different Color
No matter how we look at slavery, in the modern world it is considered as a criminal act. Yet in the past it was an essential part of many great empires. When it comes to the issue of slavery the United States and Ottoman Empire are starkly different. In the Ottoman Empire slaves had the opportunity to become educated and this was a requirement for advancement. In the Southern states slavery took an opposite stance prohibiting the advancement of slaves. The Ottomans allowed their slaves to become a part of society, while in the south the opposite was true. Why did this happen?