The Book of Genesis traces the origins of the world’s peoples back to Noah and his children, the sole survivors of the Flood. Noah curses his third son Ham and in later commentaries this would be extended beyond Ham’s son Canaan, mentioned as the direct recipient of the curse, to all of Ham’s descendants. Ham was associated with the settlement of Africa, and the story of the curse came to be applied to justify the enslavement of Africans. In the Middle Ages, it was also marshalled to explain European peasant servitude and the subordination of ethnic and religious minorities.