Slavery in ancient Rome
Slavery in ancient Rome played an important role in society and the economy. Besides manual labor, slaves performed many domestic services, might be employed at skilled jobs and professions. Accountants and physicians were slaves. Slaves of Greek origin in particular might be educated. Unskilled slaves, or those sentenced to slavery as punishment, worked on farms, in mines, at mills, their living conditions were brutal and their lives short. Slaves had no legal personhood. Unlike Roman citizens, they could be subjected to corporal punishment, sexual exploitation and summary execution. Over time, slaves gained increased legal protection, including the right to file complaints against their masters. A major source of slaves had been Roman military expansion during the Republic; the use of former soldiers as slaves led inevitably to a series of en masse armed rebellions, the Servile Wars, the last of, led by Spartacus. During the Pax Romana of the early Roman Empire, emphasis was placed on maintaining stability, the lack of new territorial conquests dried up this supply line of human trafficking.
To maintain an enslaved work force, increased legal restrictions on freeing slaves were put into place. Escaped slaves would be returned. There were many cases of poor people selling their children to richer neighbors as slaves in times of hardship. In his Institutiones, the Roman jurist Gaius wrote that: the state, recognized by the ius gentium in which someone is subject to the dominion of another person contrary to nature; the 1st century BC Greek historian Dionysius of Halicarnassus indicates that the Roman institution of slavery began with the legendary founder Romulus giving Roman fathers the right to sell their own children into slavery, kept growing with the expansion of the Roman state. Slave ownership was most widespread throughout the Roman citizenry from the Second Punic War to the 4th century AD; the Greek geographer Strabo records how an enormous slave trade resulted from the collapse of the Seleucid Empire. The Twelve Tables, Rome's oldest legal code, has brief references to slavery, indicating that the institution was of long standing.
In the tripartite division of law by the jurist Ulpian, slavery was an aspect of the ius gentium, the customary international law held in common among all peoples. The "law of nations" was neither natural law, which existed in nature and governed animals as well as humans, nor civil law, the body of laws specific to a people. All human beings are born free under natural law, but slavery was held to be a practice common to all nations, who might have specific civil laws pertaining to slaves. In ancient warfare, the victor had the right under the ius gentium to enslave a defeated population; the ius gentium was not a legal code, any force it had depended on "reasoned compliance with standards of international conduct."Vernae were slaves born within a household or on a family farm or agricultural estate. There was a stronger social obligation to care for vernae, whose epitaphs sometimes identify them as such, at times they would have been the children of free males of the household; the general Latin word for slave was servus.
Throughout the Roman period many slaves for the Roman market were acquired through warfare. Many captives were either brought back as war booty or sold to traders, ancient sources cite anywhere from hundreds to tens of thousands of such slaves captured in each war; these wars included every major war of conquest from the Monarchical period to the Imperial period, as well as the Social and Samnite Wars. The prisoners taken or re-taken after the three Roman Servile Wars contributed to the slave supply. While warfare during the Republic provided the largest figures for captives, warfare continued to produce slaves for Rome throughout the imperial period. Piracy has a long history of adding to the slave trade, the period of the Roman Republic was no different. Piracy was affluent in Cilicia where pirates operated with impunity from a number of strongholds. Pompey was credited with eradicating piracy from the Mediterranean in 67 BC. Although large scale piracy was curbed under Pompey and controlled under the Roman Empire, it remained a steady institution and kidnapping through piracy continued to contribute to the Roman slave supply.
Augustine lamented the wide scale practice of kidnapping in North Africa in the early 5th century AD. During the period of Roman imperial expansion, the increase in wealth amongst the Roman elite and the substantial growth of slavery transformed the economy. Although the economy was dependent on slavery, Rome was not the most slave-dependent culture in history. Among the Spartans, for instance, the slave class of helots outnumbered the free by about seven to one, according to Herodotus. In any case, the overall role of slavery in Roman economy is a discussed issue among scholars. Delos in the eastern Mediterranean was made a free port in 166 BC and became one of the main market venues for slaves. Multitudes of slaves who found their way to Italy were purchased by wealthy landowners in need of large numbers of slaves to labor on their estates. Historian Keith Hopkins noted that it was land investment and agricultural production which generated great wealth in Italy, considered that Rome's military
History of slavery
The history of slavery spans many cultures and religions from ancient times to the present day. However the social and legal positions of slaves have differed vastly in different systems of slavery in different times and places. Slavery occurs rarely among hunter-gatherer populations because it develops under conditions of social stratification. Slavery operated in the first civilizations. Slavery features in the Mesopotamian Code of Hammurabi, which refers to it as an established institution. Slavery became common within much of Europe during the Dark Ages and it continued into the Middle Ages; the Byzantine–Ottoman wars and the Ottoman wars in Europe resulted in the capture of large numbers of Christian slaves. The Dutch, Spanish, British, Arabs and a number of West African kingdoms played a prominent role in the Atlantic slave trade after 1600. David P. Forsythe wrote: "The fact remained that at the beginning of the nineteenth century an estimated three-quarters of all people alive were trapped in bondage against their will either in some form of slavery or serfdom."
The Republic of Ragusa became the first European country to ban the slave trade - in 1416. In modern times Denmark-Norway abolished the trade in 1802. Although slavery is no longer legal anywhere in the world, human trafficking remains an international problem and an estimated 25-40 million people were enslaved as of 2013, the majority in Asia. During the 1983–2005 Second Sudanese Civil War people were taken into slavery. Evidence emerged in the late 1990s of systematic child-slavery and -trafficking on cacao plantations in West Africa. Slavery continues into the 21st-century. Although Mauritania criminalized slavery in August 2007, an estimated up to 600,000 men and children, or 20% of the population of Mauritania, are enslaved, many of them used as bonded labor. Slavery in 21st-century Islamism continues, Islamist quasi-states such as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and Boko Haram have abducted and enslaved women and children. Evidence of slavery predates written records, has existed in many cultures.
However, slavery is rare among hunter-gatherer populations. Mass slavery requires a high population density to be viable. Due to these factors, the practice of slavery would have only proliferated after the invention of agriculture during the Neolithic Revolution, about 11,000 years ago. Slavery was known in civilizations as old as Sumer, as well as in every other ancient civilization, including Ancient Egypt, Ancient China, the Akkadian Empire, Babylonia, Ancient Iran, Ancient Greece, Ancient India, the Roman Empire, the Arab Islamic Caliphate and Sultanate and the pre-Columbian civilizations of the Americas; such institutions were a mixture of debt-slavery, punishment for crime, the enslavement of prisoners of war, child abandonment, the birth of slave children to slaves. French historian Fernand Braudel noted that slavery was endemic in Africa and part of the structure of everyday life. "Slavery came in different guises in different societies: there were court slaves, slaves incorporated into princely armies and household slaves, slaves working on the land, in industry, as couriers and intermediaries as traders".
During the 16th century, Europe began to outpace the Arab world in the export traffic, with its slave traffic from Africa to the Americas. The Dutch imported slaves from Asia into their colony in South Africa. In 1807 Britain, which held extensive, although coastal, colonial territories on the African continent, made the international slave trade illegal, as did the United States in 1808. In Senegambia, between 1300 and 1900, close to one-third of the population was enslaved. In early Islamic states of the Western Sudan, including Ghana, Mali and Songhai, about a third of the population was enslaved. In Sierra Leone in the 19th century about half of the population consisted of slaves. In the 19th century at least half the population was enslaved among the Duala of the Cameroon, the Igbo and other peoples of the lower Niger, the Kongo, the Kasanje kingdom and Chokwe of Angola. Among the Ashanti and Yoruba a third of the population consisted of slaves; the population of the Kanem was about a third slave.
It was 40% in Bornu. Between 1750 and 1900 from one- to two-thirds of the entire population of the Fulani jihad states consisted of slaves; the population of the Sokoto caliphate formed by Hausas in northern Nigeria and Cameroon was half-slave in the 19th century. It is estimated. Half the population of Madagascar was enslaved; the Anti-Slavery Society estimated that there were 2,000,000 slaves in the early 1930s Ethiopia, out of an estimated population of between 8 and 16 million. Slavery continued in Ethiopia until the brief Second Italo-Abyssinian War in October 1935, when it was abolished by order of the Italian occupying forces. In response to pressure by Western Allies of World War II Ethiopia abolished slavery and serfdom after regaining its independence in 1942. On 26 August 1942 Haile Selassie issued a proclamation outlawing slavery; when British rule was first imposed on the Sokoto Caliphate and the surrounding areas in northern Nigeria at the turn of the 20th century 2 million to 2.5 million people there were slaves.
Slavery in northern Nigeria was outlawed in 1936. Elikia M'bokolo, April 1998, Le Monde diplomatique. Quot
The word coolie, meaning a labourer, has a variety of other implications and is sometimes regarded as offensive or a pejorative, depending upon the historical and geographical context. It is similar, in many respects, to the Spanish term peon, although both terms are used in some countries, with differing implications; the word originated in South Asia in the 17th century and meant day labourer but since the 20th century, the word means porters at railway stations. Bollywood movies celebrating coolies were made in 1975, 1983, 1995. During the 19th and early 20th centuries, coolie was a term implying an indentured labourer from South Asia, South East Asia or China. However, coolie is now regarded as derogatory and/or a racial slur in the Caribbean, Oceania, North America, Southeast Asia and Europe – in reference to people from Asia; this is so in South Africa, East Africa and Tobago, Suriname, Mauritius and the Malay Peninsula. In 2000, the parliament of South Africa enacted the Promotion of Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act, which has among its primary objectives the prevention of hate speech terms such as coolie.
An etymological explanation is that the word came from Hindustani word qulī, which itself could be from the Ottoman Turkish word for slave, قول. Another explanation is that the Hindustani word qulī originated from the Gujarati aboriginal tribe or caste known as Kuli, the word was picked up by the Portuguese who used it in South India, hence the Tamil word kuli; the word was used in this sense for labourers from India. In 1727, Dr. Engelbert Kämpfer described "coolies" as dock labourers who would unload Dutch merchant ships at Nagasaki in Japan; the Chinese phrase 苦力 translates as "bitter strength" but is more understood as meaning "bitter labour". Social and political pressure led to the abolition of the slave trade throughout the British Empire in 1807, with other European nations following suit. Labour-intensive industries, such as cotton and sugar plantations and railway construction, in the colonies were left without a cheap source of manpower; as a consequence, a large-scale slavery-like trade in Asian indentured labourers began in the 1820s to fill this vacuum.
Some of these labourers signed contracts based on misleading promises, some were kidnapped and sold into the trade, some were victims of clan violence whose captors sold them to coolie brokers, while others sold themselves to pay off gambling debts. For those who did sign on voluntarily, they signed on for a period of two to five years. In addition to having their passage paid for, coolies were paid under twenty cents per day, on average. However, over a dollar would be taken from them every month. British companies were the first to experiment with this potential new form of cheap labour in 1807, when they imported 200 Chinese men to work in Trinidad. One of the first people to begin importing coolies from the East was Sir John Gladstone; the coolie trade was compared to the earlier slave trade and they accomplished similar things. Much like slave plantations, one Caribbean estate could have over six hundred coolies, with Indians making up over half. Much like slave plantations, there were preconceived notions of.
In his paper "Eastern Coolie Labour", W. L. Distant recalled his time on an estate observing the work ethic and behaviors of coolies. Just as many believed that Africans had an affinity for hard outdoor labor, Distant believed that Indian and Japanese coolies were different in their ability to perform certain jobs. Indian coolies were viewed as lower in status; those who ran estates believed that Chinese and Japanese coolies were harder working and clean. Indian coolies, on the other hand, were viewed as dirty and were treated as children who required constant supervision. Although there are reports of ships for Asian coolies carrying women and children, the great majority of them were men. Regulations were put in place as early as 1837 by the British authorities in India to safeguard these principles of voluntary, contractual work and safe and sanitary transportation, although in practice this occurred; the Chinese government made efforts to secure the well-being of their nation's workers, with representations being made to relevant governments around the world.
Workers from China were transported to work in Peru and Cuba. However, many Chinese laborers worked in British colonies such as Singapore, British Guiana, British Malaya and Tobago, British Honduras – as well as in the Dutch colonies within the Dutch East Indies, Suriname; the first shipment of Chinese labourers was to the British colony of Trinidad in 1806. In 1847, two ships from Cuba transported workers to Havana to work in the sugar cane fields from the port of Xiamen, one of the five Chinese treaty ports opened to the British by the Treaty of Nanking in 1842; the trade soon spread to other ports in Guangdong, demand became strong in Peru for workers in the silver mines and the guano collecting industry. Australia began importing workers in 1848, the United States began using them in 1865 on the First Transcontinental Railroad construction; these workers were deceived about their terms of employment to a much greater extent than their Indian counterparts, there was a much higher level of Chinese emigration during this period.
Barbary slave trade
The Barbary slave trade refers to the slave markets that were lucrative and vast on the Barbary Coast of North Africa, which included the Ottoman provinces of Algeria and Tripolitania and the independent sultanate of Morocco, between the 16th and middle of the 18th century. The Ottoman provinces in North Africa were nominally under Ottoman suzerainty, but in reality they were autonomous; the North African slave markets were part of the Berber slave trade. Perpetrated on Europeans, within in-land routes to indigenous European inhabitants; these peoples were systematically preyed upon and turned into slaves, acquired by Barbary pirates during slave raids on ships and by raids on coastal towns from Italy to the Netherlands, as far north as Iceland and in the eastern shores of the Mediterranean. The Ottoman eastern Mediterranean was the scene of intense piracy; as late as the 18th century, piracy continued to be a "consistent threat to maritime traffic in the Aegean". For centuries, large vessels on the Mediterranean relied on galley slaves supplied by North African and Ottoman slave traders.
Ohio State University history Professor Robert Davis describes the White Slave Trade as minimized by most modern historians in his book Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters: White Slavery in the Mediterranean, the Barbary Coast and Italy, 1500–1800. Davis estimates that 1 million to 1.25 million Europeans were enslaved in North Africa, from the beginning of the 16th century to the middle of the 18th, by slave traders from Tunis and Tripoli alone, 700 Americans were held captive in this region as slaves between 1785 and 1815. However, to extrapolate his numbers, Davis assumes the number of European slaves captured by Barbary pirates were constant for a 250-year period, stating: "There are no records of how many men and children were enslaved, but it is possible to calculate the number of fresh captives that would have been needed to keep populations steady and replace those slaves who died, were ransomed, or converted to Islam. On this basis it is thought that around 8,500 new slaves were needed annually to replenish numbers - about 850,000 captives over the century from 1580 to 1680.
By extension, for the 250 years between 1530 and 1780, the figure could have been as high as 1,250,000." Davis' numbers have been challenged by other historians, such as David Earle, who cautions that true picture of Europeans slaves is clouded by the fact the corsairs seized non-Christian whites from eastern Europe and black people from west Africa. Middle East expert and researcher John Wright cautions that modern estimates are based on back-calculations from human observation. Since no official records were kept but the authorities of Ottoman or pre Ottoman sources, observations across the late 1500s and early 1600s observers, estimate that around 35,000 European slaves were held throughout this period on the Barbary Coast, across Tripoli, but in Algiers; the majority were sailors, taken with their ships. However, most of these captives were people from lands close to Africa Italy. From bases on the Barbary coast, North Africa, the Barbary pirates raided ships traveling through the Mediterranean and along the northern and western coasts of Africa, plundering their cargo and enslaving the people they captured.
From at least 1500, the pirates conducted raids along seaside towns of Italy, France, the Netherlands and as far away as Iceland, capturing men and children. On some occasions, settlements such as Baltimore, Ireland were abandoned following the raid, only being resettled many years later. Between 1609 and 1616, England alone had 466 merchant ships lost to Barbary pirates. While Barbary corsairs looted the cargo of ships they captured, their primary goal was to capture non-Muslim people for sale as slaves or for ransom; those who had family or friends who might ransom them were held captive, the most famous of these was the author Miguel de Cervantes, held for five years. Others were sold into various types of servitude. Captives who converted to Islam were freed, since enslavement of Muslims was prohibited. Sixteenth- and 17th-century customs statistics suggest that Istanbul's additional slave import from the Black Sea may have totaled around 2.5 million from 1450 to 1700. The markets declined after the loss of the Barbary Wars and ended in the 1800s, after a US Navy expedition under Commodore Edward Preble engaging gunboats and fortifications in Tripoli, 1804 and when after a British diplomatic mission led to some confused orders and a massacre.
It ended with the French conquest of Algeria. The Kingdom of Morocco had suppressed piracy and recognized the United States as an independent country in 1776; the slave trade had existed in North Africa since antiquity, with a supply of African slaves arriving through trans-Saharan trade routes. The towns on the North African coast were recorded in Roman times for their slave markets, this trend continued into the medieval age; the Barbary Coast increased in influence in the 15th century, when the Ottoman Empire took over as rulers of the area. Coupled with this was an influx of Sephardi Jews and Moorish refugees, newly expelled from Spain after the Reconquista. With Ottoman protection and a host of destitute immigrants, the coastline soon became reputed for pirac
Child labour refers to the exploitation of children through any form of work that deprives children of their childhood, interferes with their ability to attend regular school, is mentally, physically or morally harmful. Such exploitation is prohibited by legislation worldwide, although these laws do not consider all work by children as child labour. Child labour has existed to varying extents throughout history. During the 19th and early 20th centuries, many children aged 5–14 from poorer families worked in Western nations and their colonies alike; these children worked in agriculture, home-based assembly operations, factories and services such as news boys—some worked night shifts lasting 12 hours. With the rise of household income, availability of schools and passage of child labour laws, the incidence rates of child labour fell. In the world's poorest countries, around 1 in 4 children are engaged in child labour, the highest number of whom live in sub-saharan Africa. In 2017, four African nations witnessed over 50 percent of children aged 5–14 working.
Worldwide agriculture is the largest employer of child labour. The vast majority of child labour is found in informal urban economies. Poverty and lack of schools are considered the primary cause of child labour. Globally the incidence of child labour decreased from 25% to 10% between 1960 and 2003, according to the World Bank; the total number of child labourers remains high, with UNICEF and ILO acknowledging an estimated 168 million children aged 5–17 worldwide were involved in child labour in 2013. Child labour forms an intrinsic part of pre-industrial economies. In pre-industrial societies, there is a concept of childhood in the modern sense. Children begin to participate in activities such as child rearing and farming as soon as they are competent. In many societies, children as young as 13 are seen as adults and engage in the same activities as adults; the work of children was important in pre-industrial societies, as children needed to provide their labour for their survival and that of their group.
Pre-industrial societies were characterised by low productivity and short life expectancy, preventing children from participating in productive work would be more harmful to their welfare and that of their group in the long run. In pre-industrial societies, there was little need for children to attend school; this is the case in non literate societies. Most pre-industrial skill and knowledge were amenable to being passed down through direct mentoring or apprenticing by competent adults. With the onset of the Industrial Revolution in Britain in the late 18th century, there was a rapid increase in the industrial exploitation of labour, including child labour. Industrial cities such as Birmingham and Liverpool grew from small villages into large cities and improving child mortality rates; these cities drew in the population, growing due to increased agricultural output. This process was replicated in other industrialising countries; the Victorian era in particular became notorious for the conditions under which children were employed.
Children as young as four were employed in production factories and mines working long hours in dangerous fatal, working conditions. In coal mines, children would crawl through tunnels too low for adults. Children worked as errand boys, crossing sweepers, shoe blacks, or selling matches and other cheap goods; some children undertook work as apprentices to respectable trades, such as building or as domestic servants. Working hours were long: builders worked 64 hours a week in summer and 52 in winter, while domestic servants worked 80-hour weeks. Child labour played an important role in the Industrial Revolution from its outset brought about by economic hardship; the children of the poor were expected to contribute to their family income. In 19th-century Great Britain, one-third of poor families were without a breadwinner, as a result of death or abandonment, obliging many children to work from a young age. In England and Scotland in 1788, two-thirds of the workers in 143 water-powered cotton mills were described as children.
A high number of children worked as prostitutes. The author Charles Dickens worked at the age of 12 in a blacking factory, with his family in debtor's prison. Child wages were low. Karl Marx was an outspoken opponent of child labour, saying British industries, "could but live by sucking blood, children’s blood too," and that U. S. capital was financed by the "capitalized blood of children". Letitia Elizabeth Landon castigated child labour in her 1835 poem The Factory, portions of which she pointedly included in her 18th Birthday Tribute to Princess Victoria in 1837. Throughout the second half of the 19th century, child labour began to decline in industrialised societies due to regulation and economic factors because of the Growth of Trade Unions; the regulation of child labour began from the earliest days of the Industrial revolution. The first act to regulate child labour in Britain was passed in 1803; as early as 1802 and 1819 Factory Acts were passed to regulate the working hours of workhouse children in factories and cotton mills to 12 hours per day.
These acts were ineffective and after radical agitation, by for example the "Short Time Committees" in 1831
Children in the military
Children in the military are children who are associated with military organisations, such as state armed forces and non-state armed groups. Throughout history and in many cultures, children have been involved in military campaigns. For example, thousands of children participated on all sides of the First World War and the Second World War. Children may be trained and used for combat, assigned to support roles such as porters or messengers, or used for tactical advantage as human shields or for political advantage in propaganda. Children are easy targets for military recruitment due to their greater susceptibility to influence compared to adults; some are recruited by force while others choose to join up to escape poverty or because they expect military life to offer a rite of passage to maturity. Child recruits who survive armed conflict suffer psychiatric illness, poor literacy and numeracy, behavioural problems such as heightened aggression, leading to a high risk of poverty and unemployment in adulthood.
Research in the UK and US has found that the enlistment of adolescent children when they are not sent to war, is accompanied by a higher risk of attempted suicide, stress-related mental disorders, alcohol misuse, violent behaviour. A number of treaties have sought to curb the participation of children in armed conflicts. According to Child Soldiers International these agreements have helped to reduce child recruitment, but the practice remains widespread and children continue to participate in hostilities around the world; some economically powerful nations continue to rely on military recruits aged 16 or 17, the use of younger children in armed conflict has increased in recent years as militant Islamist movements and the groups fighting them recruited children in large numbers. History is filled with children who have been trained and used for combat, assigned to support roles such as porters or messengers, used as sex slaves, or recruited for tactical advantage as human shields or for political advantage in propaganda.
In 1814, for example, Napoleon conscripted many teenagers for his armies. Thousands of children participated on all sides of the Second World War. Children continued to be used throughout the 20th and early 21st century on every continent, with concentrations in parts of Africa, Latin America, the Middle East. Only since the turn of the millennium have international efforts begun to limit and reduce the military use of children. Since the adoption in 2000 of the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict the global trend has been towards restricting armed forces recruitment to adults aged 18 or over, known as the Straight-18 standard. Most states with armed forces have opted in to OPAC, which prohibits states that still recruit children from using them in armed conflict. Nonetheless, Child Soldiers International reported in 2018 that children under the age of 18 were still being recruited and trained for military purposes in 46 countries. States that still rely on children to staff their armed forces include the world's three most populous countries and the most economically powerful.
The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child and others have called for an end to the recruitment of children by state armed forces, arguing that military training, the military environment, a binding contract of service are not compatible with children's rights and jeopardise healthy development during adolescence. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates hired child soldiers from Sudan to fight against Houthis during the Yemeni Civil War; these include non-state armed paramilitary organisations, using children such as militias, terrorist organizations, guerrilla movements, ideologically or religiously-driven groups, armed liberation movements, other types of quasi-military organisation. In 2017 the United Nations identified 14 countries where children were used by such groups: Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Yemen. Not all armed groups use children and 60 have entered agreements to reduce or end the practice since 1999.
For example, by 2017, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in the Philippines had released nearly 2,000 children from its ranks, in 2016, the FARC-EP guerrilla movement in Colombia agreed to stop recruiting children. Other countries have seen the reverse trend Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, where Islamist militants and groups opposing them have intensified their recruitment and use of children. In 2003 P. W. Singer of the Brookings Institution estimated that child soldiers participate in about three-quarters of ongoing conflicts. In the same year the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimated that most of these children were aged over 15, although some were younger. Today, due to the widespread military use of children in areas where armed conflict and insecurity prevent access by UN officials and other third parties, it is difficult to estimate how many children are affected. In 2017 Child Soldiers International estimated that several tens of thousands of children more than 100,000, were in state- and non-state military organisations around the world, in 2018 the organisation reported that children were being used to participate in at least 18 armed conflicts.
Ottoman Imperial Harem
The Imperial Harem of the Ottoman Empire was the Ottoman sultan's harem composed of the wives, female relatives, the sultan's concubines, occupying a secluded portion of the Ottoman imperial household. This institution played an important social function within the Ottoman court, demonstrated considerable political authority in Ottoman affairs during the long period known as the Sultanate of Women; the utmost authority in the Imperial Harem was the Valide Sultan, who ruled over the other women in the household and was of slave origin herself. The Kizlar Agha was the head of the eunuchs responsible for guarding the Imperial Harem; the word harem is derived from the Arabic harim or haram which give connotations of the sacred and forbidden. The female quarters of Turkish households were referred to as haremlik due to their prevailing exclusivity; the harem was the ultimate symbol of the Sultan's power. His ownership of women slaves, was a sign of wealth and sexual prowess; the institution was introduced in the Turkish society with adoption of Islam, under the influence of the Arab Caliphate, which the Ottomans emulated.
To ensure the obedience of the women, many of them were kept into slavery. However, not all members of the Harem were slaves; the main wives those taken into marriage to consolidate personal and dynastic alliances were free women. This was the exception, not the rule; the relationship between slavery and polygamy/harems in the Turkish Harem continued until 1908, at the least. The imperial harem served as a parallel institution to the sultan's household of male servants; the women were provided with an education on par with that provided to male pages, at the end of their respective educations they would be married off to one another, as the latter graduated from the palace to occupy administrative posts in the empire's provinces. Only a small fraction of the women in the harem engaged in sexual relations with the sultan, as most were destined to marry members of the Ottoman political elite, or else to continue service to the Valide Sultan; the Imperial Harem occupied one of the large sections of the private apartments of the sultan at the Topkapi Palace which encompassed more than 400 rooms.
After 1853, an lavish harem quarter was occupied at the new imperial palace at Dolmabahçe. The mother of a new sultan came to the harem with pomp and assumed the title of valide sultan or sultana mother upon her son's ascension, she ran the Harem and ruled over the members of the dynasty. The Valide Sultan who influenced the political life of the Ottoman Empire during various periods of history had the authority to regulate the relations between the sultan and his wives and children. At times the valide sultan acted as regent for her son in the seventeenth century, when a series of accidents necessitated regencies that endowed the position of Queen Mother with great political power. In 1868, Empress Eugénie of France visited the Imperial harem, to have a lasting effect, she was taken by the sultan Abdülaziz to his mother, Valide Sultan Pertevniyal Sultan, but Pertevniyal became outraged by the presence of a foreign woman in her harem, greeted the Empress with a slap in the face provoking an international incident.
The visit of the Empress, did cause a dress reform in the harem by making Western fashion popular among the harem women, who dressed according to Western fashion after. For the perpetuation and service of the Ottoman Dynasty and intelligent slave girls were either captured in war, recruited within the empire, or procured from neighbouring countries to become imperial court ladies. Odalisque, a word derived from the Turkish oda, meaning chamber: thus connoting odalisque to mean chamber girl or attendant, was not a term synonymous with concubine; the court ladies who were introduced into the harem in their tender age were brought up in the discipline of the palace. They became kalfas and ustas; the court ladies with whom the sultan shared his bed became a member of the dynasty and rose in rank to attain the status of Gözde, Ikbal or Kadın. The highest position was the Valide Sultan, the legal mother of the sultan, who herself used to be a wife or a concubine of the sultan's father and rose to the supreme rank in the harem.
No court lady could leave or enter the premises of the harem without the explicit permission of the valide sultan. The power of the valide sultan over concubines extended to questions of life and death, with eunuchs directly reporting to her; the court ladies either lived in the halls beneath the apartments of the consorts, the valide sultan and the sultan, or in separate chambers. The kadıns, who numbered up to four, formed the group. Right below the kadıns in rank were the ikbals, whose number was unspecified. Last in the hierarchy were the gözdes. During 16th and 17th century, chief consort of the sultan received title haseki sultan or sultana consort; this title surpassed other titles and ranks by which the prominent consorts of the sultans had been known. When the position of valide sultan was vacant, a haseki could take valide's role, have access to considerable economic resources, become chief of imperial harem, sultan's a