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Abolition of Slavery in Ottoman Tunisia

Ismael M. Montana

Publication Year: 2013

In this groundbreaking work, Ismael Montana fully explicates the complexity of Tunisian society and culture and reveals how abolition was able to occur in an environment hostile to such change. Moving beyond typical slave trade studies, he departs from the traditional regional paradigms that isolate slavery in North Africa from its global dynamics to examine the trans-Saharan slave trade in a broader historical context. The result is a study that reveals how European capitalism, political pressure, and evolving social dynamics throughout the western Mediterranean region helped shape this seismic cultural event.

Published by: University Press of Florida


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p. 1-1

The Abolition of Slavery in Ottoman Tunisia

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pp. 2-3


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p. 4-4


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p. 5-5


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pp. 6-9


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pp. 10-11

List of Illustrations

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pp. xi-13

List of Tables

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pp. xiii-15

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pp. xv-xx

Ismael M. Montana’s The Abolition of Slavery in Ottoman Tunisia is situated at the heart of three major scholarly discourses, to each of which it contributes in significant ways. First and foremost among these is enslavement studies, with special emphasis on slavery and the slave trade in Islamic societies. Then comes the related debate over abolition and ...

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pp. xxi-xxiii

I am greatly indebted to many institutions that have supported me in writing this book. Foremost among them, I thank Northern Illinois University for granting me a research leave in 2008–2009 to devote time to this study and for the financial support toward its publication. More particularly, the History Department and the College of Liberal Arts ...

List of Abbreviations

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pp. xxv-27

Notes on Transliteration

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pp. xxvii-29

Notes on Currency

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pp. xxix-33

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pp. 1-9

In December 1841 port authorities on the Greek Island of Ionia detained the Miltiades, a Greek vessel carrying fourteen enslaved black Africans bound from Tunis to Constantinople (now Istanbul). The circumstances surrounding the detention of the Miltiades implicated Joseph Gaspary, a French citizen and consular agent for several European countries, at the ...

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1. The Slave Trade from the Ottoman Period

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pp. 10-24

In the aftermath of the Ottoman conquest in 1574, Ifriqiya (Medieval Tunisia), a country with no deep Saharan hinterland and a comparatively passive recipient of the trans-Saharan commerce, witnessed a gradual revival of the caravan slave trade. Prior to the conquest, the slave trade had been in decline for centuries, starting with the Hilali ...

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2. Reforms and Foreign Trade, 1759–1814

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pp. 25-34

This chapter provides a broad overview of developments of the Tunisian economy from 1759 until 1814, when the Regency of Tunis began to experience stability in the wake of the decades-long succession crisis. The chapter shows how reform was initially undertaken to strengthen the autonomy of Tunis, and thereafter to take advantage of expanding European trade to redefine ...

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3. Changing Patterns of the Slave Trade, 1759–1814

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pp. 35-50

Examination of the slave trade across the Sahara from the African interior in the context of Tunisian and European trade during the period 1759–1814 must involve an exploration of the shifting patterns of the Ghadames caravan trade, which was the principal point of access from the Sahara for Tunisia. Contemporary sources document changes in ...

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4. The Slave Trade during European Domination of the Mediterranean, 1815–1841

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pp. 51-73

This chapter examines the economic consequences of European domination of the Mediterranean on the Tunisian slave trade after the Napoleonic Wars. This was a period when Britain consolidated its maritime position in the Mediterranean, a region perceived as a vital extension of control of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. Then, after 1830, the French ...

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5. The Road to Abolition

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pp. 74-95

There can hardly be any doubt that the unprecedented traffic in black slaves across the Mediterranean from Tunisian ports triggered the pressures for abolitionism from Britain, which resulted in the abolition of the slave trade and the emancipation of slaves in Tunisia. This chapter examines how political disequilibrium arising from the French conquest ...

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6. Final Abolition, 1846

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pp. 96-114

The chapter examines Ahmad Bey’s formal justification for the abolition of slavery and the mass emancipation of slaves by analyzing the confidential correspondence between the bey and Sir Thomas Reade, the two architects of abolition in Tunisia, and the bey’s request sent to the Sharia Council for Judicial Ordinance. It examines the historical, ...

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7. The Aftermath of Abolition, 1846–1855

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pp. 115-130

When Ahmad Bey outlined the final abolition measures to Sir Thomas Reade in 1846, they did not embody recourse to religious authorities. Within four days of the declaration of abolition, strong public reaction forced the bey to confront the reality of slavery in its Muslim context. Slavery was recognized under Islamic law and regulated by the Sharia, ...

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pp. 131-136

With the arrival of the Portuguese on the west coast of Africa in the fifteenth century, and with subsequent French, Dutch, and English economic activities in the region, the trans-Saharan commerce that until then had linked western and central Sudan with North Africa and the Mediterranean entered a decisive phase of competition with the emergent seaborne trade. ...

Appendix A: The Tunisian Trans-Saharan Slave Trade and the Traffic across the Mediterranean

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pp. 138-144

Appendix B: The Abolition of the Slave Trade, 1841–1845

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pp. 145-153

Appendix C: The Final Abolition of Slavery, 1846

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pp. 154-157


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pp. 159-162


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pp. 163-182


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pp. 183-196


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pp. 197-205

E-ISBN-13: 9780813048420
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813044828

Page Count: 208
Illustrations: 6 tables, 5 maps, 8 figures
Publication Year: 2013

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Slavery -- Tunisia -- History.
  • Slave trade -- Tunisia -- History.
  • Human rights -- Tunisia -- History.
  • Antislavery movements -- Tunisia -- History.
  • Tunisia -- Economic conditions -- 18th century.
  • Tunisia -- Economic conditions -- 19th century.
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