Jeremy Black (historian)

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Jeremy Black MBE (born 30 October 1955) is a British historian, writer, and former professor of history at the University of Exeter. He is a senior fellow at the Center for the Study of America and the West at the Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadelphia.


  • War tore the guts out of the British empire, weakening it in resources and morale. The first major loss was Ireland.
    • A History of the British Isles (1996)
  • Islamic law was far from monolithic, with different schools providing competing accounts. Nevertheless, it was agreed that non-Muslims living under non-Muslim rule could readily be enslaved by Muslims, and their status was heritable, although owners could free as well as bequeath, sell and give slaves. However, although, even among orthodox Muslims, the notion that slaves were properly secured by conquest alone was very far from being observed, non-Muslims living under Muslim rule were protected from enslavement, Christians and Jews being regarded as Peoples of the Book, and thus related to Muslims, and enjoying religious freedom on payment of a poll tax. Thus, for the purposes of ensuring slave labour, Muslim societies were not able to draw on the bulk of the population under their control and had to rely on the slave trade. In India, Islamic rulers, such as the sultans of the Delhi sultanate (1206–1526), used enslavement as a form both of extracting revenues and of punishment, not least for not paying taxes. Fiscal factors were to the fore and territorial expansion was in part financed by the sale of slaves.
    • A Brief History of Slavery: A New Global History (2011)
  • The continued dynamism of successive Islamic societies produced fresh bouts of conquest that led to new sources of slaves. Thus, on the eastern end of the Islamic world, Mahmud of Ghazni, south-west of Kabul (r.971–1030), whose empire stretched from the River Oxus to the River Indus, launched numerous raids into northern India from the 990s, annexing the Hindu state of Sahi to the east by 1021. Religious factors played a role in his attacks, which in 1022 extended far down the Ganges valley and in 1026 into Gujarat. Chroniclers claimed that his campaign of 1024 yielded over 100,000 slaves. Such numbers fed a major slave trade into Central Asia, Persia and Iraq, as well as bringing wealth to the army. The Delhi sultanate (1206–1526), established by Qutb-ud-din Aybak, who had been a military slave of the Churid Sultan Muizz u-Din, so that it is sometimes referred to as the Slave Dynasty, in turn, used Turkic slave soldiers from Central Asia as well as local Hindu soldiers. This sultanate took part in largescale slave raiding in India.... The island of Bali in the East Indies (Indonesia) was a source of Hindu slaves for the Muslim world... The campaigns in India of the Mughals and the Deccan sultanates produced many Hindu slaves, some of whom were sold on to Central Asia and Persia... In India, the Mughals enslaved rebels and those deemed rebels, for example, Hindus who rejected attempts at proselytism, as at Benares in 1632. Those captured in Mughal campaigns were often given to the troops for their use or for them to sell. Enslavement was also the fate of peasants who could not meet their taxes and rents, with men, women and children often sold to Muslim lords as a consequence. Further south in India, enslavement was used by the Deccan sultanates, notably Bijapur and Golconda, in suppressing opposition. These major Muslim states campaigned extensively into southern India and enslaved Buddhists, Hindus and others. Thus, in the 1640s, Golconda seized much of the state of Vijayahagara and Bijapur that of Mysore. However, the Mughal conquest of the Deccan sultanates of Bijapur and Golconda in the 1680s led to the end of military slavery there... India was also a source of slaves, for example with girls taken to Afghanistan and the Middle East and, from the mid-seventeenth century, forced labour moved to plantations in the Dutch-ruled coastlands of Sri Lanka.
    • A Brief History of Slavery: A New Global History (2011)
  • From the outset in 1917, the Communists believed in a utopian ideology, extreme, organised violence, atheism, a redefined place of the individual that served to reject Enlightenment precepts, and the rejection of preceding Russian history. During the Civil War and the 1920s, the Orthodox Church was crushed, with the slaughter of tens of thousands of priests and monks, and the desecration and destruction of churches, monasteries and the tombs of saints. The real and spiritual landscapes of Russia and the psychological life of the people were transformed as a consequence. Communism in its own way therefore constituted a major civilisational challenge to the notion in Europe and North America of a 'Western Civilisation', whether or not articulated explicitly in this fashion. This civilisation owed much to Christianity and placed considerable weight on liberalism and toleration. From this perspective, Communism, drawing both on a reconceptualisation of Russian authoritarianism and on a new, totalitarian ideology and practice, posed a counter-civilisational challenge with its own precepts, aims, methods and anticipated outcomes.
    • The Cold War: A Military History (2015)
  • Between 1750 and 1900, Britain became the foremost power in the world, both territorially and in economic terms. An intellectual powerhouse, Britain also became a model political system for much of the world. These changes were connected. Territorial expansion provided raw materials, markets and employment and, combined with Protestant evangelicalism and liberal self-confidence, encouraged a sense in Britain of being at the cutting edge of civilisation. Indeed, empire was in part supported on the grounds that it provided opportunities for the advance of civilisation. This was seen not least by ending what were regarded as uncivilised as well as un-Christian practices, such as widow-burning and ritual banditry in India, and slavery and piracy across the world.
  • Distorting our knowledge and understanding of the past by making it a matter of good or bad is a reductionism that is lazy and crude and stupid and dangerous. Academics serving up explanation in terms of race are similarly reductionist and similarly stupid. This is not about statues but a culture war, one in which the forces of illiberalism, intolerance and hatred brilliantly masquerade behind the call for righting the past and very much to the profit of a conceited and self-interested cadre of would-be revolutionaries; but do let them go first-class to their conferences, and remember that his/her title is Professor.
  • History in part is the trust between the generations, a link through and across time that helps give identity and meaning to the present. As individuals, families, communities, and a nation we all have meaning in time, something that was celebrated last year in the coronation. And that is why those opposed to these values and this nationhood, attack our history and do the same in other countries.

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