Summary:The history of white people
Chapter1: Greeks and Scythians
Theauthor introduced the chapter by questioning the existence of peoplewith a light skin. It is certain that the white people existed in theancient days, but the issue of differentiating people on the basis oftheir races did not exist. The chapter indicates that all people,irrespective of their race, came from a small group of ancestors in aperiod of about three thousand years ago. By using the example of theAmericans, the chapter indicates that the difficulty of tracing theorigin of people with a light skin can be attributed to the fact thatthe ancestors were illiterate and did not leave any documents todescribe themselves.
TheGreek mythology is one of the theories that have been put forward toexplain the origin the light skinned people, including the Greeks andScythians. The mythology, which was put forward by Jason, a Greekmyth, holds that these people originated from the Caucasus, a regionthat is located between Caspian and the Black seas. An idea thathuman beings originated from the Caucasus is emphasized by the Bible(Genesis 8:1), where Noah’s ark came to rest on the mountain knownas Ararat. Mount Ararat is about 17,000 feet high, which makes it theTurkey’s tallest mountain. To-date, the mountain is believed to bea mark of postdiluvian human history in the region of West Asia.
Warsand trade that occurred in the twentieth century brought naturalresources and slaves to the region of Caucasus. Scythians, whichmeans the little known and the Celt settled in Europe. Scythians wereconsidered as Stone Age and illiterate people while Celts wasreferred to as hidden people who painted images of strange humanbeings. From the description provided by the Greeks, both the slavesand their masters were light skinned. The light skinned Scythians andCelts who settled in Europe became the biological ancestors ofItalians, Germans, Jews, and English people. Ancient generationsdistinguished people on the basis of their geographical locations,instead of race. For example, Africa referred to Libya and Egypt,Asia referred to Persia, and Europe meant Greece, which implies thatthe light skinned people originated from Greece. Hippocrates coinedthe notion of using climatic changes to explain the differences interms of skin color.
Thefirst map that located the Persian Empire and the regions occupied byScythians and Celts was drawn by a geographer known as Hecataeus.However, the map was later improved by Herodotus, who indicated thatthe Scythians lived in the east of Europe and Celts lived on thewestern side. Hippocrates assigned different tribes to differentgeographical locations depending on their body type. Hippocratesindicated that Scythians existed in several tribes that occupiedUkrainian Sea and north of the black sea. Some were farmers, whileothers were nomads, which determined the extent to which each tribecould spread or move to other parts of the world. According toHippocrates, Scythians living in Asia were more civilized, wellnourished, and had a finer physique. People who uphold the conceptdeveloped by Hippocrates attribute the individualism of the Europeanand the American countries to the fact that Scythians who were theirbiological ancestors of had no kings who could tell them what theyshould do.
Althoughslaves and slavery has been mentioned severally, the origin and theskin color of the slaves who were owned by Scythians and the Greekshave not been discussed satisfactorily. Some theorists hold thatslaves were taken captive during wars and others hold that slaveswere children of the poor people who sold them to the risk Scythiansto earn a living. By fourth century BCE, slaves had reached 100,000in Athens, which implies that they were more than the freemen. Womenwere enslaved for sex, medical, or household jobs, while men wereenslaved for industrial, board ships, and field work. Imbalance ofpower also resulted in some people being enslaved. For example,Colchians and other tribes gave a hundred boys and girls to Persiaevery five years. These children were enslaved, which means thatpeople with the lighter skin also took the poor members of theircommunity to be their slaves. Slave trade in the ancient days wasinfluenced by power and wealth.
Chapter2: Romans, Celts, Gauls, and Germani
Theemperor power shifted to Rome from Greeks with time as the Greeksventured in studying the world while Romans invested in the strengthof their military. Romans managed to conquer more regions. TheRomans started separating people into different tribes (such asGermani and Gauls) as they advanced to the north and to the east.Romans came into contact with Germani between 70 and 60 BCE. Slavesidentified themselves with their regions, which resulted in revolts.This created the need for the Romans to give the slaves newidentities. Celts were separated from Gauls and Germani with moreclarity. The primary source of slaves in the 70s BCE was referred toas Slavic Thrace, which is the modern Greece, Bulgaria, and Turkey.Some scholars, such as Halicarnassus saw Germani as a branch of Celt,while Strabo described Gauls as double-stilled Germani. The tendencyof Gaul to engage in war and appear as a high-spirited tribe isattributed to the strong physique and large number.
Germaniwere not easy to conquer and this allowed them to maintain theirbarbaric way of life. Germani remained as the truer branch of Celt,since their culture was not interfered with by slave traders and theRomans. Although Gaul was strong, they only played a supporting rolein helping the Romans establish the Roman Empire. Julius Caesar, whoruled between 100 and 44 BCE, defeated Belgae in the year 57 BCE,which gave Roman a quick access to about 53,000 slaves. By addingmore northerners to the population of Italy, Caesar consideredhimself as the conqueror and the military commander of the northerntribes, including Gaul. Instead of taking them as slaves, Caesarrecruited people from the north into the military, which allowed themto play the supportive role in the establishment of the Roman Empire.
Caesardivided Gaul into three major groups (including Celts, Belgae, andAquitani), which the Americans consider the as biological ancestorsof the white people. The term Germani was used to refer to all tribesthat lived to the north of the Roman Empire between the first and thesixth century. The Gauls were recognized as people who preferred tobe independent and they engaged in war to protect the liberty and thereputation for warfare. However, they often lost to the short Romans,which have been attributed to their overconfidence. Caesar describedthe German tribes (including Suebi Germans) as being uncivilized andignorant. Suebis are described as people who bathe in rivers, fail tocover their bodies in spite of the cold climate of their region, andfeed on milk and meat only. Caesar tried to distinguish Germani fromGaul by holding the Gaul people were courageous, which is confirmedby their attempt to confront the Romans in an offensive attack. Inaddition, the establishment of settlements in the regions occupies byGaul tribe had brought prosperity, reduced poverty, and hardships.However, Gaul later transformed its worriers into consumers, whichresulted on the impotence of the tribe’s military capacity. Caesardescribed this scenario as the process of softening and civilization.
Germansinhabited the region across Rhine and of their branch, Suebi Germans,stopped the importation of wine from the south claiming that it madetheir people weak and unable to survive the hard toils. For the firsttime, Caesar introduced the idea of distinguishing people on thebasis of their races. For example, Caesar held that the differencesbetween Germans and Gauls were racial and permanent rather thancultural and influx. The Germans had a set of moral standards thathelped them avoid sex until the age of 20 years. This was believed tobe the underlying reason for their height and bravely.
AlthoughCaesar had a limited interaction with the Britons, he describes themas hunters and gathers. They had a loose moral, which was confirmedby the fact that they could share their wives in groups of up to 12men. However, they were quite civilized than the Gauls. Gaius Pliniusemphasized on the issue of the lack of civilization among the Germantribes by stating that they offered human beings as sacrifices anddrank from human skulls. Cornelius Tacitus, a book writer, alsodistinguished tribes on the bases of their behaviors and held thatthe wild Germani lived to the east of the Rhine while Gauls lived tothe west of the Rhine. However, Tacitus used the concepts ofconquest, historical change, and migration to explain that someGermani tribes had migrated to regions that the Romans had calledGauls, which resulted in the change of name from Gail to Tungri.Apart from sexual abstinence, Tacitus added that the masculinity ofGermans increased their brutality. However, Tacitus found out thatGermani tribes had some admirable traits, such as the love of peaceand freedom. Germans did not intermarry with other tribes, whichhelped them maintain their racial purity and a similar physicalappearance. Although the Germans in the modern world are classifiedas a single linguistic unit, it has been reported that Germanicspeaking tribes stretched as far as Poland and beyond.
Chapter3: White Slavery
Theexisting literature has created a notion that the topic of slaveryrevolves around the issue of the slave trade that affected theAfricans. However, this chapter reveals that slave trade started withthe people of a light skin. The Vikings used to attack Russia andEurope, capturing hundreds of light skinned people, who were thensold as slaves. This occurred between the fifth and the twelfthcenturies. Some of the most affected settlements include Bristol,Novgorod, and Dublin, where Dublin was considered to be the largestmarket for slaves. Slaves could be valued up to eight oxen onAnglo-Saxon Britain and a unit of currency in Ireland.
Slaveryamong the white people could be inherited, which implies that somepeople could sell themselves or children into slavery depending ontheir family history. It is estimated that about one tenth of theBritish population was enslaved by the 11thcentury, which indicates that slave trade among the lighter skinpeople was worse than the slave trade that affected the Africans.
Medievalslave trade did not exempt anyone since Viking, Ottoman merchants,and Italian slave traders moved a long distance to look for slaves. The slave trade was mainly controlled by Venice, which was acosmopolitan city. Over 10,000 slaves were sold at in Venice, between1414 and 1423, but this slave trade continued to decline until thesixteenth century. The decline in the slave trade at Venice and thesurrounding areas was attributed to the loss of wealth among slavebuyers from Italy, which excluded them from slave business.
Inaddition, trends in slave trade continued to change, where traders inthe Ottoman harem valued slaves on the basis of their physicalappearance, such as beauty. The image of freedom became morepreferable than the idea of slavery in British. New products (such assugar) were introduced into the market and replaced slaves with time.The Ottoman Empire captured the Mediterranean region, which cut offthe trade routes that facilitated the flow of sugar fromMediterranean to Europe. The blocking of these trade routes reducedtrade in sugar, slaves, and spices. This forced the Europeans(including Prince Henry) to look for alternatives. Prince Henry sentsailors to West African where they planted sugar in several highlands(such as Madeira) and got slaves from Africa. However, the whiteslave trade continued, but at a reduced scale, until the eighteenthcentury, when slave trade became an equation that converted race toblack (Africans) and then to the slave.
Althoughslave trade of African continued to thrive with time, it is evidentthat the slave traders continued to target the whites as usual.Britain continued to ship a large number of its white people to somedistant land due to fear of exponential increase in population,ethnic cleansing in Ireland, increase in crime, and royal wars. Forexample, it is estimated that slave traders in Britain hired VirginiaCompany to transport about 100 homeless children to Virginia at fivepound per head in 1619. Similarly, Portugal continued to sendthousands of children to its colonies to server as slaves. Slavetraders continued to ship kidnapped white people, vagrant minors,indentured servants, and convicts without legal restrictions. Inaddition, the fact that it was only 300 out of 11,000 slaves sold inVirginia the seventeenth century were Africans indicates that theproportion of light-skinned slaves was higher than blacks. However,the shipment of the white slaves reduced significantly during theShakespeare’s era, between the early seventeen century andmid-seventeenth century.
Slavetrade thrived in America because of the high number of leaders (suchas Governor John Winthrop of Massachusetts) who believed that Godcreated conditions that facilitates the enslavement of some humanbeings. Winthrop held that God created poor, rich, dignitaries, andpowerful people. The poor were expected to serve those in the highersocial classes. For example, Puritans were sold as slaves in Virginiabecause they were considered to be in subjection, mean, andunfortunate. Some legislation, such as the Transportation Act thatwas enacted in 1718 also authorized the shipment of convicts andtheir sale as slaves in North America.
Irvin,N. Thehistory of white people.New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2010. Print.