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Despite the generous supply and quality of food, some prisoners died of starvation after gambling away their rations.Most of the men held in the prison were low-ranking soldiers and sailors, including midshipmen and junior officers, with a small number of privateers.
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.
Typically women had no rights, and were held legally as chattel.
The writings of Mary Rowlandson, captured in the brutal fighting of King Philip's War, are an example.
Such narratives enjoyed some popularity, spawning a genre of the captivity narrative, and had lasting influence on the body of early American literature, most notably through the legacy of James Fenimore Cooper's Last of the Mohicans.
The British government went to great lengths to provide food of a quality at least equal to that available to locals.
The senior officer from each quadrangle was permitted to inspect the food as it was delivered to the prison to ensure it was of sufficient quality.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.Homer's Iliad describes Greek and Trojan soldiers offering rewards of wealth to opposing forces who have defeated them on the battlefield in exchange for mercy, but their offers are not always accepted; see Lycaon for example.Typically, little distinction was made between enemy combatants and enemy civilians, although women and children were more likely to be spared.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.There also evolved the right of parole, French for "discourse", in which a captured officer surrendered his sword and gave his word as a gentleman in exchange for privileges.If he swore not to escape, he could gain better accommodations and the freedom of the prison.In the fourth century AD, Bishop Acacius of Amida, touched by the plight of Persian prisoners captured in a recent war with the Roman Empire, who were held in his town under appalling conditions and destined for a life of slavery, took the initiative of ransoming them, by selling his church's precious gold and silver vessels, and letting them return to their country. During Childeric's siege and blockade of Paris in 464, the nun Geneviève (later canonised as the city's patron saint) pleaded with the Frankish king for the welfare of prisoners of war and met with a favourable response.Later, Clovis I liberated captives after Genevieve urged him to do so.