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The earliest known purposely built prisoner-of-war camp was established at Norman Cross, England in 1797 to house the increasing number of prisoners from the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars. The lowest number recorded was 3,300 in October 1804 and 6,272 on 10 April 1810 was the highest number of prisoners recorded in any official document.Norman Cross was intended to be a model depot providing the most humane treatment of prisoners of war.Sometimes, the purpose of a battle, if not a war, was to capture women, a practice known as raptio; the Rape of the Sabines was a large mass abduction by the founders of Rome.

For most of human history, depending on the culture of the victors, enemy combatants on the losing side in a battle who had surrendered and been taken as a prisoner of war could expect to be either slaughtered or enslaved.In Christian Europe, the extermination of heretics was considered desirable.Examples include the 13th century Albigensian Crusade and the Northern Crusades.If he swore to cease hostilities against the nation who held him captive, he could be repatriated or exchanged but could not serve against his former captors in a military capacity.Early historical narratives of captured colonial Europeans, including perspectives of literate women captured by the indigenous peoples of North America, exist in some number.When asked by a Crusader how to distinguish between the Catholics and Cathars once they'd taken the city of B├ęziers, the Papal Legate Arnaud Amalric famously replied, "Kill them all, God will know His own".

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