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Slavery and Conversion of the Slaves to Islam in the Ottoman Society

Slavery and Conversion of the Slaves to Islam in the Ottoman Society: According to the Canonical Registers of Bursa between XVth and XVIIIth Centuries

By Osman Cetin

UÜ İlahiyat Fakültesi Dergisi, Vol.10:1 (2001)

Introduction: In Bursa as well as in other cities of Anatolia, among the groups who had converted to Islam, the slaves occupied an important place. We know that the slave trade, throughout the middle ages, was very widespread all over the world. There were naturally thousands of captives and slaves in Anatolia. At the period of Seljuks, Yabanlu (a small fair place in east Anatolia) was an important market where slave trade was made. From Kipjaks, Georgians, Armenians and Greeks living in Muslim countries, briefly from all nationalities, slaves were bought and sold at this market. One of the principal sources of slaves at this period, was wars. It was during and after wars that thousands of people were, reciprocally, captured and then often sold into slavery.

At the period of Seljuks, we know that the Muslim armies, constantly struggled in all battlefields, especially at the frontiers of the country, and captured a lot of people. The famous historian Ibn Bibi reports that the Seljuk princes who lived at the frontiers of the country captured hundred thousands of people every year, and most of them embraced Islam. It must be noted that the situation was not any different during the first Ottoman conquests which approximately took place under the same conditions. Then, we can say that thousands of captives were imported into the Ottoman cities every year, sold in the markets of slaves and placed in the Muslim houses as male and female slaves.

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