The history of slavery spans many cultures, nationalities, and religions from ancient times to the present day. Likewise, its victims have come from many different ethnicities and religious groups. The social, economic, and legal positions of slaves have differed vastly in different systems of slavery in different times and places.
. Slavery was widespread in the ancient world. It was found in almost every ancient civilization, including the Roman Empire. It became less common throughout Europe during the Early Middle Ages, although it continued to be practiced in some areas. Both Christians and Muslims captured each other as slaves during centuries of warfare in the Mediterranean.