The history of our world has always been a bloody and difficult affair, full of struggles, wars and conquests. And in the centuries before our own, tribes and chieftains, kingdoms and empires, all relied on subjugating the smaller nations for their own gain. In the old times, where there were conquests, there was oppression. From massacres and genocides to expulsions, to conversions and famines - the conquered peoples suffered dreadful fates at the hands of their conquerors. Vae victis! - or not?
Today we are going deep into the past as we explore the worst crimes against innocent peoples - all the way up to the 17th century. With the onset of the numerous wars of the 19th and 20th centuries, and a great increase in sad tales of oppression, a certain term was coined: ‘ genocide’. And that is the very word we will explore today, and all the weight, these eight letters carry within them.
The Centuries of Genocide Against the Slavic Peoples
We begin our story with one of the classic examples of how peaceful, pastoral and agrarian tribes were viciously exploited by all those that surrounded them, and greedily coveted to usurp them. The Slavic tribes and their shared ethno-linguistic identity emerged from a string of amalgamated Proto-European and Indo-European cultures that developed over centuries. This Slavic identity spread over large swaths of Central and Eastern Europe and remained in these regions for centuries, from the earliest periods AD, all the way to modern times.
But their history is grim and rife with injustice and oppression. From their earliest starts, the Slavs were peaceful and pastoral cultures, with a set of colorful mythologies and a pantheon of gods strongly rooted in nature. They were never a true warrior culture, and they had to adopt several weapons from the peoples around them. And their neighbors exploited this peaceful culture by enslaving them en masse.
The story of enslavement of the Slavs spanned centuries. It was a genocide that wasn’t a one-time occurrence - but one that went on for a long, long time. As they lived from the coasts of the Adriatic, and all around the major river systems of Europe, they were easily reached by slave traders from all sides.
The Eastern Slavs were enslaved by Mongol, Tatar and Khazar hordes from the Central Asian steppes. The Southern Slavs were targeted from the shores of the Adriatic, while the Western Slavs were captured through the rivers of Europe by the Germanic nations. Norsemen, Saxons, and other tribes captured Slavs for their thralls, while the Arabs of the Iberian Peninsula captured them in great masses, taking the men for war, and lusting after the Slavic females, taking them for harems, and greatly prizing them at slave markets.
And all these trade routes that dealt in Slavic slaves grew into an organized and well-established slave trading system that was created by Radanite Jews who supervised the trade and sold these slaves, amassing great wealth through the suffering of innocent people.
In Arab Hispania, Slavic slaves were bought in such masses, that the term Saqaliba was born. This is the Arab name for Slavs, and these Saqaliba became a crucial part of internal affairs in the Iberian Peninsula, even rising to great positions in their caliphates. One caliph even permanently settled some 5,000 captured Slavs into Syria.
And the Slavic tribes that had their homeland from the lower Jutland Peninsula and all along the Elbe river valleys, experienced centuries of genocide from the Germanic invaders - who relied on massacres and forceful conversions to vanquish the Slavs in Germany.
Such was the sad fate of the Slavs - they were enslaved in such great masses that the word for “slave” in the classical world was none other than “Slav”. The Slavic ethnonym - Slav - means “glory”, “celebration”, or “mutual intelligibility” - but their oppressors used this ethnonym to denote a slave. Such was the fate of those peaceful farmers.
Edited by Thoth101, 15 March 2020 - 10:06 PM.