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New find reveals Swedes' role in Ottoman sex-slave trade

New find reveals Swedes' role in Ottoman sex-slave trade

Published: 13 Jan 2012 13:57 GMT+01:00
Updated: 13 Jan 2012 13:57 GMT+01:00

“Swedish history must be rewritten,” researcher Joachim Östlund told The Local.

Östlund, from the Department of History at Lund University, found that Sweden had an active role in the 18th century slave-trades through the discovery of forgotten ship registration documents stored in Stockholm’s consulate archives.

While ‘not surprised’ about uncovering Sweden’s participation in the Ottoman Empire, he stresses the importance of shedding light on Sweden’s role in the affair.

“Sweden actively participated in the Ottoman Empire slave trade with the Sub-Sahara – and this is completely new,” he said.

According to Östlund’s findings, the shipping registries state that the Swedish ships’ cargo was "negroes".

While the slaves sent to America were predominantly men used for plantation work, the Ottoman Empire had a different agenda entirely.

“Up to 75 percent of the passengers on board were women,” said Östlund.

“These women were used as servants and concubines, often both at the same time. They lived a relatively short time, research suggests an average of seven years after reaching the Empire, and this kept the slave trade between Africa and Tripoli going strong.”

The only other alternative for freedom was marriage, and this, too, reduced slave numbers – prompting an increase in demand.

Sweden had consuls in Tripoli in 1741, creating a peace agreement between the countries

According to Östlund, Sweden also had peace agreements with other states in the region meaning Swedish ships had extra leeway in international waters and used this to sail the Mediterranean uninterrupted.

Östlund’s findings have created a heated discussion, and not everyone is taking the news well. While people have accused him of trying to drag Sweden’s history through the mud, Östlund explains that it was simply curiosity that motivated his research.

“We can’t always have this idea that Sweden is just a happy land in the North, isolated from the rest the world,” he told The Local.

Östlund’s book on the findings,Sweden and North Africa: Slavery and Diplomacy in the Mediterranean World, circa 1650-1760, will be released in 2013.

Oliver Gee (oliver.gee@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

15:27 January 13, 2012 by Nemesis
Interesting. The journalists from the local have proven again they know absolutely nothing about Swedden and have absolutely no idea what the word actually neutral means.

I covered this at school and Sweden was one of the countries named as slave traders.

Also Sweden did not become a neutral country until the end of the Napoleonic wars. Swedens declaration of war against France and Denmark on 24 March 1813 was not a neutral act.

Sweden tried to invade Norway in 1567, 1644, 1658 and 1716 and eventually when Norwegians tried to declare independance after Denmark was defeated in the Napolonic wars, Sweden invaded Norway in the Swedish-Norwegian War of 1814, with the Blessing of the UK, Russia and Prussia. Sweden actually saw Norway as war booty in 1814.

Sweden then supplied weapons to everyone who would buy them in 1914 to 1918.

Sweden then went on to allow the nazi's to ass through Sweden to invade Norway in 1940, which had only become independant of Sweden in 1905.

Neutral countries don't invade there neighbours or assist people to invade there neigbours.
15:34 January 13, 2012 by Tennin
We´ll put Nemesis. Sweden was only neutral on paper.
16:41 January 13, 2012 by ctinej
I should add that Sweden was potentially close to success in one of its raids on Norway after they got hold of some dynamite.

The raiders were throwing the sticks over the Norwegian fort walls.

However, the Norwegians quickly discovered that if they lit the fuses and threw the sticks back, they were much more effective.
17:43 January 13, 2012 by Chickybee
Almost all of the Ottoman Sultans were hybridinous as their mothers were either captured Ukrainian or Bulgarian/Rumanian women.

The Turks also took every 5th son from all Christan families and used them as Janissaries against their own people.

Turkey itself is really not a secular state so Sweden's behaviour is really not as grim as everyone seems to be trying to make out.

Every country has done things which with retrospect they should be ashamed of now it's the USA who is one of the biggest perpetrators.
17:45 January 13, 2012 by tadchem
To deny the mistakes of the past is to prevent oneself from learning from them. Learning is necessary to adaptation, which in turn is necessary to survival.
18:05 January 13, 2012 by jon f
What does the of Sweden Queen thinks about this?
18:07 January 13, 2012 by ajs42548
What? Something that is not being blamed on Israel? Be still my beating heart. Oh wait, the day is still young.
18:07 January 13, 2012 by nar klockan klamtar
The slave trade is still alive, and thriving today just as it was 200 years ago. Regular shipments are arriving in most EU countries from Asia and Africa to be used in the sex industry, and as household servants and the black economy. Today as as it was 200 years ago the slaves are scourced NOT by the wicked white man, but by Asian and African warlord tribal leaders, and gangs of criminals who round up vunerable or competing tribes and sell them off for shipment. Very little has changed in the slave trade in 200 years.
19:45 January 13, 2012 by RobinHood
It's all Israel's fault.
20:28 January 13, 2012 by Roy E
The world is a better place with the Ottoman Empire gone.
21:07 January 13, 2012 by Javlaengelsman
@Chickybee. You are right all nations have indulged in practices at points in histoy which we today deem to be unacceptable. The practice should not be seen as something to judge negativly on Sweden today. Today we are all the chattle of the monied elites & increasingly so under vile neoliberalism. As ecconomic slaves (which we are), we unwitingly serve our modern masters in a world of Negative Liberty, the modern elite, Bankers, Corperations & their facilitaters (Polititions using divide & rule) are The Sultans of today... The Masses, distracted from the meaninglessness of their lives by coluding media (celebraty coulture, sport & trivia) are sadly to dumb to realize they are no more than farmed animals. If they truely collectively realized their state of existence there WOULD be World Revolution... As an individual however.. To merely to see Farm is to leave it.
21:18 January 13, 2012 by Carbarrister
So Swedish ships transported slaves and commercial goods to the Ottoman Empire in the 1700s. Sweden didn't have a monopoly on such shipping. As one commenter reminded us slavery still goes on today in Africa.

Why is it no one ever condemns those in Africa who continue to sell men, women and children into slavery?
21:32 January 13, 2012 by Greysuede
Ottoman Swedish relationship was far more positive and productive in history than this.
22:31 January 13, 2012 by nar klockan klamtar
The worst of the slave trade today is still happening across Africa, being conducted by African tribes and Arab slavers. At this present time their men being largely murdered, whole tribes of women and children are being seperated and sold into slavery, then sent to Middle Eastern and EU countries.
05:46 January 14, 2012 by chemo007
trying to fabricate history.............:D
09:08 January 14, 2012 by blik
@Javiaengelsman

Oh so profoundly intellectually insightful you are, oh great mind.

If only we could free ourselves from this Jewish/American conspiracy of bonded slavery and get back to the good old days of the Feudal Tribal system of existence where life was a blood bath in between growing potatoes in the mud for the Master Land Owner before you died at the age of twenty of disetry or any one of a thousand untreatable diseases. All that, only if you were one of the extremely lucky ones that actually made it to adulthood.

You poor miserable tit.

We are the luckiest humans in the entire story of human history. If you are too stupid to realise that fact then you don't deserve all you have.
09:43 January 14, 2012 by guliver
"It's all Israel's fault"

Robin Hood

I do not understand if you are just kiding or you realy mean what you say...

If you are kiding that is a bad joke.

If you mean what you say ,that you write without even thinking about your response ,it is just the wish to say something bad on Israel without any connection between what you write and the text above,

Naturly Israel which became a state on 29.11.47 has nothing to do with the Othoman Empire and Sweden which were states in those days.
11:57 January 14, 2012 by Rick Methven
@guliver

Do you have a word watch on The Local so that any time any poster writes Israel an alarm goes off so that you leap on to your computer and defend the motherland.

How very silly.

If you had looked back a couple of posts, you would have seen this

18:07 January 13, 2012 by ajs42548

What? Something that is not being blamed on Israel? Be still my beating heart. Oh wait, the day is still young.

And then could have worked out that it was a tongue in cheek post from RobinHood.

Talk about over sensitive: LOL
19:40 January 14, 2012 by Euro22
The Europeans often get blamed for the African slave trade - but it is worth knowing that it was the slave trade of non-Muslim Africans that got the whole thing started.

That is why the main slave outpost is where it is in Sub-Saharan Africa - because by the time the Europeans came along - the Portuguese at first - large portions of Africa - down to just below the Sahara - had already been enslaved and converted to Islam - and so they had to go further afield to find non-Muslim slaves and that was now Sub-Saharan Africa.

These non-Muslim African were sold to the Northern African Muslims and Arabs for gold. Until the Europeans figured out - we could take this over ourselves!

Another reason - Africa was used in the Islamic slave trade - was because it became increasing difficult to take slaves from Southern Europe.

Just as today we have some western men - turning coat and joining jihad - off in Somalia, Afghanistan or wherever - back then European pirates used to convert to Islam as well and take part in jihadist excursions. And since they knew the waters - to collect slaves for the Mediterranean Muslims - they would orchestrate raids on the Irish coast and even up as far as Iceland.

Video: Europeans captured and sold into slavery by Muslim slave traders:

http:// www. youtube. com/watch?v=q1BJyeuhLRk

[Full Video somewhere]

When the Turks came to power - you see the areas in lower Russia that are Muslim - the Turks were raiding those areas and enslaving the people and converting people - the women of the region especially prized for the Turkish Harems.

It was only Russia's intervention that eventually drove them back.

If Swedish ships had an arrangement where they could travel unharassed through the Med - then this was arrangement with the Islamic governments - who used to attack and enslave - all passers by. Under the British flag - US ships had such protection [via France] - but once they gained independence - they were attacked as any other by the Islamic raiders there.

On one occasion in Paris - an American President [Thomas Jefferson - as a diplomat] and other representatives met with an envoy from Tripoli - and asked why US ships were being attacked - when they had done nothing to these nations.

Here is what the Tripoli envoy told them:

""It was written in their Koran, that all nations which had not acknowledged the Prophet were sinners, whom it was the right and duty of the faithful to plunder and enslave; and that every mussulman who was slain in this warfare was sure to go to paradise...""

This was read out in the US Congress.

What has changed - with Islam!!

It is all our history and no one emerges unblemished!!
06:49 January 15, 2012 by Kaethar
Rubbish article. I know for a fact that this is not true since we learnt of Sweden's involvement in the slave trade YEARS ago when I was in school. What in all actuality has happened is that some new records have been discovered. That's it.
10:32 January 16, 2012 by flintis
Must have been Carl Bildts fault, or who ever was foreign secretary then, bending over to Islam as usual, although they have a preference for little boys.
08:02 January 17, 2012 by Javlaengelsman
@Blik, Apart from being a very rude blow hard.. coming on to call people names, your point is what?! Where & what has lsrael or the Jews got to do with or been mentioned in my post?! Who EXACTLY is so lucky realative to our time...? How equally is this "Luck" distribruted? Who is talking about going back to a Feudal & Tribal time and growing potatoes in the mud?! Last question is who really is the the Poor Miserable Tit?! The whole point was that Sweden should not be singled out by all the usaual extreme right wing negative expat posters on here who take every chance they get to have a pop at Sweden... for past practices which were common to their time yet rightly abhorant by todays standards & that modern forms of slavery have taken and are taking the place of past forms.
23:14 December 3, 2012 by danmacgoo
Germanic people are evil.
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