Slavery and Abolition in the Ottoman Middle East

TitleSlavery and Abolition in the Ottoman Middle East
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication1998
AuthorsToledano ER
Series TitlePublications on the Near East
PublisherUniversity of Washington Press
ISBN Number9780295976426

Ehud R. Toledano, Ph.D. 1979

In the Ottoman Empire, many members of the ruling elite were legally slaves of the sultan and therefore could, technically, be ordered to surrender their labor, their property, or their lives at any moment. Nevertheless, slavery provided a means of social mobility, conferring status and political power within the military, the bureaucracy, or the domestic household and formed an essential part of patronage networks. Ehud R. Toledano’s exploration of slavery from the Ottoman viewpoint is based on extensive research in British, French, and Turkish archives and offers rich, original, and important insights into Ottoman life and thought.

In an attempt to humanize the narrative and take it beyond the plane of numbers, tables and charts, Toledano examines the situations of individuals representing the principal realms of Ottoman slavery, female harem slaves, the sultan’s military and civilian kuls, court and elite eunuchs, domestic slaves, Circassian agricultural slaves, slave dealers, and slave owners. Slavery and Abolition in the Ottoman Middle East makes available new and significantly revised studies on nineteenth-century Middle Eastern slavery and suggests general approaches to the study of slavery in different cultures.


Introduction: Ottoman Slavery and the Slave Trade
Kul/Harem Slavery: The Men, the Women, the Eunuchs
The Other Face of Harem Bondage: Abuse and Redress
Agricultural Slavery among Ottoman Circassians
Slavery and Abolition: The Battle of Images
Discourses on Ottoman and Ottoman-Arab Slavery
Conclusion: Ottoman Slavery in World Slavery