According to Wikipedia, slave raids continued on a small scale until the 19th century. When was the last time slaves were taken from Europe?

Edit: to be clear, I'm talking about slavery in the classic sense, where a group of raiders arrive and seize a load of people by force, then sell them. There are other things that can be described as slavery, but just because they're morally equivalent doesn't make them the same.

Edit 2: I was reminded that the Ottomans did it too...

  • Please see edit, I am asking about one particular kind of slavery.
    – Ne Mo
    Commented Nov 3, 2015 at 12:11
  • 3
    Regardless of your shrinking of scope, human trafficking continues today...
    – CGCampbell
    Commented Nov 3, 2015 at 16:41
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    Yeah, nor did I suggest otherwise. There was plenty of slavery in Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany too, but that is another kind of slavery I am not asking about. What I want to know is when in Europe outsiders were no longer able to seize slaves in the open.
    – Ne Mo
    Commented Nov 3, 2015 at 17:22
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    Well, even in that part of the world, (the Balkans and Middle East) the slave trade, even as you describe it more or less, still continues today. hrw.org/news/2015/09/05/slavery-isis-rules
    – Anaryl
    Commented Nov 3, 2015 at 20:14
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    You don't consider Turkey part of Europe? What about all the girls who are sold into slavery inside Europe? It seems like you're moving the goal posts a bit there. The point is - slavery never stopped in south western europe. Just because they don't have beards and eye patches sailing corsairs outside constantinople, doesn't mean it isn't happening.
    – Anaryl
    Commented Nov 5, 2015 at 7:31

4 Answers 4


There is a book recently published entitled "Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters: White Slavery in the Mediterranean, the Barbary Coast, and Italy, 1500-1800" by Robert Davis, a professor at Ohio State University.

According to the book, slave markets with Christian slaves kidnapped or raided from Europe or from European ships were on sale in Barbary coast slave markets until the trade was shut down by the invasion of Algiers by the French in 1830.

  • 2
    The 1830 invasion was the trigger for the final end from what I could dig up online too.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Nov 3, 2015 at 13:57
  • Tyler, thank you for answering with a reference. You know me, I like references :)
    – Ne Mo
    Commented Nov 3, 2015 at 17:24

These answers do not address slavery in Turkey. According to Wikipedia:

In 1830, a firman of Sultan Mahmud II gave freedom to white slaves. This category included the Circassians, who had the custom of selling their own children, enslaved Greeks who had revolted against the Empire in 1821, and some others. Another firman abolishing the trade of Circassian children was issued in October, 1854. A firman to the Pasha of Egypt was issued in 1857 and an order to the viziers of various local authorities in the Near East, such as the Balkans and Cyprus, in 1858, prohibited the trade of Zanj slaves but did not order the liberation of those already enslaved.

This article makes clear that slavery nevertheless continued well into 20s century. Ottoman and Egyptian slaves at that time mostly came from Balcans and Caucasus regions which are technically in Europe.


The First Barbary War in 1805, immortalized in the line "to the shores of Tripoli" in the US Marines' Hymn, was fought to prevent:

Barbary corsair[s] led attacks upon American merchant shipping in an attempt to extort ransom for the lives of captured sailors, and ultimately tribute from the United States to avoid further attacks, as they did with the various European states.

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    That was the first thing (as an American) I thought of as well. However, it looks like it didn't actually end the activity. There was even a kidnapping that caused another international incident with the USA during TR's presidency.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Nov 3, 2015 at 14:00
  • This doesn't answer the question. Commented Nov 3, 2015 at 19:40
  • 1
    @T.E.D. That linked article was great.
    – Russell
    Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 2:21
  • @KillingTime: It's a natural list question - I added the first member of the list. to set a lower bound. Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 2:33
  • @Russell - I believe I first read about that incident a few years back in a Edmund Morris' TR biography (Theodore Rex). His retelling of the story has a very different angle to it.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 2:54

The following is an anecdotal account from my mother which I recall from memory:

She was in the changing room of a clothing store (in Athens, during the 80's or 90's) and overheard the attendant, who had in the past conspired in abducting young women to supply a harem, and who was relaying the story to a friend of hers.

The incident was made memorable to her because of the method they used: They would put an ad in the paper looking for an actress or dancer (or similar), and during the interview they would tell the victim that it's a very small role, won't take too long, no need to tell your family or friends. That's pretty much what she overheard, and told me a similar offer had been made to her while looking for work some time prior to that.

She also remarked that this method had pretty much died out nowadays (late 90's at the time) due to the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the supply of emigrants from these countries.

I'll ask for more details when we next speak and update this answer accordingly. Again, this is an anecdotal account which I relay from memory, so take it with a generous pinch of salt.

More info: The year was probably '87 and it wasn't the attendant who was part of the scheme, it was her friend, who was in his 50s and recently out of jail. The shop was in the affluent area of Kolonaki. The ads would be put in the Ta Nea (The News) newspaper.

My mother was looking for work in '83 and went for an interview, to a rented-out dance hall in the Athenian suburb of Kallithea. There, there was a man and a woman, who introduced themselves as husband and wife. They were looking for a group of dancers or extras to send to Australia, with a stopover in the Middle East. The guy was very excited about her but she didn't like his look for some reason, and after a while another woman came in, whom they took away and introduced themselves as brother and sister.

So, there you go, straight from an Internet stranger's mother's horse's mouth.

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    I understand that that is how the slave trade is still perpetuated. Young women induced with promises of being a nanny, waitress etc then have their passports taken and they end up in underground brothels. A person at school would befriend them then introduce them to older brothers or uncles and then they'd be groomed for the sex industry.
    – Daniel
    Commented Oct 24, 2018 at 21:30
  • @Daniel, can you revise the comment to include sources and make it more tightly responsive? The comment as currently phrased is going to divert attention into discussion of political issues that, while they are important, are not in scope for this site.
    – MCW
    Commented May 10, 2022 at 13:31

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