The Barbary pirates, sometimes called Barbary corsairs or Ottoman corsairs, were Ottoman and Maghrebi pirates and privateers who operated from North Africa, based primarily in the ports of Salé, Rabat, Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli. This area was known in Europe as the Barbary Coast, a term derived from the name of its ethnically Berber inhabitants. Their predation extended throughout the Mediterranean, south along West Africa's Atlantic seaboard and into the North Atlantic as far north as Iceland, but they primarily operated in the western Mediterranean. In addition to seizing merchant ships, they engaged in Razzias , raids on European coastal towns and villages, mainly in Italy, France, Spain, and Portugal, but also in the British Isles,the Netherlands, and as far away as Iceland. The main purpose of their attacks was to capture Christian slaves for the Ottoman slave trade as well as the general Arab slavery market in North Africa and the Middle East.
The Ottoman Empire, historically known in Western Europe as the Turkish Empire or simply Turkey, was a state that controlled much of Southeast Europe, Western Asia and North Africa between the 14th and early 20th centuries. It was founded at the end of the 13th century in northwestern Anatolia in the town of Söğüt by the Oghuz Turkish tribal leader Osman I. After 1354, the Ottomans crossed into Europe, and with the conquest of the Balkans, the Ottoman beylik was transformed into a transcontinental empire. The Ottomans ended the Byzantine Empire with the 1453 conquest of Constantinople by Mehmed the Conqueror.
A privateer is a private person or ship that engages in maritime warfare under a commission of war. The commission, also known as a letter of marque, empowers the person to carry on all forms of hostility permissible at sea by the usages of war, including attacking foreign vessels during wartime and taking them as prizes. Historically, captured ships were subject to condemnation and sale under prize law, with the proceeds divided between the privateer sponsors, shipowners, captains and crew. A percentage share usually went to the issuer of the commission. Since robbery under arms was once common to seaborne trade, all merchant ships were already armed. During war, naval resources were auxiliary to operations on land so privateering was a way of subsidizing state power by mobilizing armed ships and sailors.
North Africa is a region encompassing the northern portion of the African continent. There is no singularly accepted scope for the region, and it is sometimes defined as stretching from the Atlantic shores of Morocco in the west, to Egypt's Suez Canal and the Red Sea in the east. Others have limited it to the countries of Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia, a region that was known by the French during colonial times as "Afrique du Nord" and is known by Arabs as the Maghreb. The most commonly accepted definition includes Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, and Sudan, the 6 countries that shape the top North of the African continent. Meanwhile, "North Africa", particularly when used in the term North Africa and the Middle East, often refers only to the countries of the Maghreb and Libya. Egypt, being also part of the Middle East, is often considered separately, due to being both North African and Middle Eastern at the same time.
While such raids had occurred since soon after the Muslim conquest of Iberia in the 8th Century, the terms "Barbary pirates" and "Barbary corsairs" are normally applied to the raiders active from the 16th century onwards, when the frequency and range of the slavers' attacks increased. In that period Algiers, Tunis and Tripoli came under the sovereignty of the Ottoman Empire, either as directly administered provinces or as autonomous dependencies known as the Barbary States. Similar raids were undertaken from Salé and other ports in Morocco.
Morocco, officially the Kingdom of Morocco, is a country located in the Maghreb region of North Africa with an area of 710,850 km2 (274,460 sq mi). Its capital is Rabat, the largest city Casablanca. It overlooks the Mediterranean Sea to the north and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. Morocco claims the areas of Ceuta, Melilla and Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera, all of them under Spanish jurisdiction.
Barbary corsairs captured thousands of merchant ships and repeatedly raided coastal towns. As a result, residents abandoned their former villages of long stretches of coast in Spain and Italy. Between 100,000 and 250,000 Iberians were enslaved by these raids.
The raids were such a problem coastal settlements were seldom undertaken until the 19th century. Between 1580 and 1680 corsairs were said to have captured about 850,000 people as slaves and from 1530 to 1780 as many as 1,250,000 people were enslaved. [ unreliable source? ] The effects of the Barbary raids peaked in the early to mid-17th century.However, these numbers have been questioned by the historian David Earle. Some of these corsairs were European outcasts and converts (renegade) such as John Ward and Zymen Danseker. Hayreddin Barbarossa and Oruç Reis, Turkish Barbarossa Brothers, who took control of Algiers on behalf of the Ottomans in the early 16th century, were also notorious corsairs. The European pirates brought advanced sailing and shipbuilding techniques to the Barbary Coast around 1600, which enabled the corsairs to extend their activities into the Atlantic Ocean.
Religious conversion is the adoption of a set of beliefs identified with one particular religious denomination to the exclusion of others. Thus "religious conversion" would describe the abandoning of adherence to one denomination and affiliating with another. This might be from one to another denomination within the same religion, for example, from Baptist to Catholic Christianity or from Shi’a to Sunni Islam. In some cases, religious conversion "marks a transformation of religious identity and is symbolized by special rituals".
John Ward or Birdy, also known as Jack Ward or later as Yusuf Raïs, was an English pirate around the turn of the 17th century who later became a Barbary Corsair operating out of Tunis during the early 17th century.
Siemen Danziger, better known by his anglicized names Zymen Danseker and Simon de Danser, was a 17th-century Dutch privateer and corsair. His name is also written Danziker, Dansker, or Danser.
Long after Europeans had abandoned oar-driven vessels in favor of sailing ships carrying tons of powerful cannon, many Barbary warships were galleys carrying a hundred or more fighting men armed with cutlasses and small arms. The Barbary navies were not battle fleets. When they sighted a European frigate, they fled.
An oar is an implement used for water-borne propulsion. Oars have a flat blade at one end. Rowers grasp the oar at the other end.
A galley is a type of ship that is propelled mainly by rowing. The galley is characterized by its long, slender hull, shallow draft and low freeboard. Virtually all types of galleys had sails that could be used in favorable winds, but human strength was always the primary method of propulsion. This allowed galleys to navigate independently of winds and currents. The galley originated among the seafaring civilizations around the Mediterranean Sea in the late second millennium BC and remained in use in various forms until the early 19th century in warfare, trade and piracy.
A cutlass is a short, broad sabre or slashing sword, with a straight or slightly curved blade sharpened on the cutting edge, and a hilt often featuring a solid cupped or basket-shaped guard. It was a common naval weapon during the early Age of Sail.
The scope of corsair activity began to diminish in the latter part of the 17th century,as the more powerful European navies started to compel the Barbary States to make peace and cease attacking their shipping. However, the ships and coasts of Christian states without such effective protection continued to suffer until the early 19th century. Following the Napoleonic Wars and the Congress of Vienna in 1814–15, European powers agreed upon the need to suppress the Barbary corsairs entirely and the threat was largely subdued. Occasional incidents occurred, including two Barbary wars between the United States and the Barbary States, until finally terminated by the French conquest of Algiers in 1830.
The Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815) were a series of major conflicts pitting the French Empire and its allies, led by Napoleon I, against a fluctuating array of European powers formed into various coalitions, financed and usually led by the United Kingdom. The wars stemmed from the unresolved disputes associated with the French Revolution and its resultant conflict. The wars are often categorised into five conflicts, each termed after the coalition that fought Napoleon: the Third Coalition (1805), the Fourth (1806–07), the Fifth (1809), the Sixth (1813), and the Seventh (1815).
The Congress of Vienna, also called Vienna Congress, was a meeting of ambassadors of European states chaired by Austrian statesman Klemens von Metternich, and held in Vienna from November 1814 to June 1815, though the delegates had arrived and were already negotiating by late September 1814. The objective of the Congress was to provide a long-term peace plan for Europe by settling critical issues arising from the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars. The goal was not simply to restore old boundaries but to resize the main powers so they could balance each other and remain at peace. The leaders were conservatives with little use for republicanism or revolution, both of which threatened to upset the status quo in Europe. France lost all its recent conquests while Prussia, Austria and Russia made major territorial gains. Prussia added smaller German states in the west, Swedish Pomerania and 60% of the Kingdom of Saxony; Austria gained Venice and much of northern Italy. Russia gained parts of Poland. The new Kingdom of the Netherlands had been created just months before, and included formerly Austrian territory that in 1830 became Belgium.
The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.
Piracy by Muslim populations had been known in the Mediterranean since at least the 9th century and the short-lived Emirate of Crete. Provence was plagued by Saracen slave raids in the Carolingian era; in 869, archbishop Rotlandus of Arles was captured, and died before he could be released after the payment of a ransom in weapons, treasure and slaves.
In 1198 the problem of Berber piracy and slave-taking was so great that a religious order, the Trinitarians, were founded to collect ransoms and even to exchange themselves as ransom for those captured and pressed into slavery in North Africa. In the 14th century Tunisian corsairs became enough of a threat to provoke a Franco-Genoese attack on Mahdia in 1390, also known as the "Barbary Crusade". Morisco exiles of the Reconquista and Maghreb pirates added to the numbers, but it was not until the expansion of the Ottoman Empire and the arrival of the privateer and admiral Kemal Reis in 1487 that the Barbary corsairs became a true menace to shipping from European Christian nations.
The Barbary pirates had long attacked English and other European shipping along the North Coast of Africa. They had been attacking English merchant and passengers ships since the 1600s. Regular fundraising for ransoms was undertaken generally by families and local church groups, who generally raised the ransoms for individuals. The government did not ransom ordinary persons. The English became familiar with captivity narratives written by Barbary pirates' prisoners and ransomed captives, as so many people were taken. After English colonists began to go to North America and be taken captive by Native Americans, both the colonists and people in England had some basis for considering the meaning of captivity for a Christian in an alien society.
During the American Revolution the pirates attacked American merchant vessels in the Mediterranean. But, on December 20, 1777, Sultan Mohammed III of Morocco issued a declaration recognizing America as an independent country, and that American merchant ships could enjoy safe passage into the Mediterranean and along the coast.The relations were formalized with the Moroccan-American Treaty of Friendship signed in 1786, which stands as the U.S.'s oldest non-broken friendship treaty with a foreign power.
As late as 1798, an islet near Sardinia was attacked by the Tunisians, and more than 900 inhabitants were taken away as slaves.Throughout history, geography was on the pirates' side on the Northern coast of Africa. The coast was ideal for their wants and needs. With natural harbours often backed by lagoons, it provided a haven for guerrilla warfare, such as attacks on shipping vessels venturing through their territory. On the coast, mountainous areas provided ample reconnaissance for the corsairs as well. Ships were spotted from afar; the pirates had time to prepare their attacks and surprise the ships.
Moors and Turkish adventurers from the Levant, of whom the most successful were Hızır and Oruç, natives of Mitylene, increased the number of raids around the turn of the 15th century. In response, Spain began to conquer the coastal towns of Oran, Algiers and Tunis. But after Oruç was killed in battle with the Spanish in 1518, his brother Hızır appealed to Selim I, the Ottoman sultan, who sent him troops. In 1529, Hızır drove the Spaniards from the rocky, fortified island in front of Algiers, and founded the Ottoman power in the region. From about 1518 till the death of Uluç Ali in 1587, Algiers was the main seat of government of the beylerbeys of northern Africa, who ruled over Tripoli, Tunisia and Algeria. From 1587 to 1659, they were ruled by Ottoman pashas, sent from Constantinople to govern for three years; but in the latter year a military revolt in Algiers reduced the pashas to nonentities.
From 1659, these African cities, although nominally part of the Ottoman Empire, were in fact military republics that chose their own rulers and lived by war booty captured from the Spanish and Portuguese. There are several cases of Sephardic Jews, including Sinan Reis and Samuel Pallache, who upon fleeing Iberia turned to attacking the Spanish Empire's shipping under the Ottoman flag, a profitable strategy of revenge for the Inquisition's religious persecution.
During the first period (1518–1587), the beylerbeys were admirals of the sultan, commanding great fleets and conducting war operations for political ends. They were slave-hunters and their methods were ferocious. After 1587, the sole object of their successors became plunder, on land and sea. The maritime operations were conducted by the captains, or reises, who formed a class or even a corporation. Cruisers were fitted out by investors and commanded by the reises. Ten percent of the value of the prizes was paid to the pasha or his successors, who bore the titles of agha or dey or bey.
In 1544 Hayreddin captured the island of Ischia, taking 4,000 prisoners, and enslaved some 2,000–7,000 inhabitants of Lipari.In 1551 Turgut Reis enslaved the entire population of the Maltese island of Gozo, between 5,000 and 6,000, sending them to Ottoman Tripolitania. In 1554 corsairs under Turgut Reis sacked Vieste, beheaded 5,000 of its inhabitants, and abducted another 6,000. In 1555 Turgut Reis sacked Bastia, Corsica, taking 6,000 prisoners. In 1558, Barbary corsairs captured the town of Ciutadella (Minorca), destroyed it, murdered many inhabitants, and took 3,000 to Constantinople as slaves. In 1563 Turgut Reis landed on the shores of the province of Granada, Spain, and captured coastal settlements in the area, such as Almuñécar, along with 4,000 prisoners. Barbary corsairs often attacked the Balearic Islands, and in response many coastal watchtowers and fortified churches were erected. The threat was so severe that residents abandoned the island of Formentera.
Even at this early stage, the European states fought back: Livorno's monument Quattro Mori celebrates 16th-century victories against the Barbary corsairs won by the Knights of Malta and the Order of Saint Stephen, of which the Grand Duke of Tuscany Ferdinando I de' Medici was Grand Master. Another response was the construction of the original frigates; light, fast and maneuverable galleys, designed to run down Barbary corsairs trying to get away with their loot and slaves. Other measures included coastal lookouts to give warning for people to withdraw into fortified places and rally local forces to fight the corsairs. This latter goal was especially difficult to achieve as the corsairs had the advantage of surprise; the vulnerable European Mediterranean coasts were very long and easily accessible from the north African Barbary bases, and the corsairs were careful in planning their raids.
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During the first half of the 17th century, Barbary raiding was at its peak. This was due largely to the contribution of Dutch corsairs, notably Zymen Danseker (Simon de Danser), who used the Barbary ports as bases for attacking Spanish shipping during the Dutch Revolt. They cooperated with local raiders and introduced them to the latest Dutch sailing rigs, enabling them to brave Atlantic waters.Some of these Dutch corsairs converted to Islam and settled permanently in North Africa. Two examples are Süleyman Reis, "De Veenboer", who became admiral of the Algerian corsair fleet in 1617, and his quartermaster Murat Reis, born Jan Janszoon. Both worked for the notorious Dutch corsair Zymen Danseker.
A notable counter action occurred in 1607, when the Knights of Saint Stephen (under Jacopo Inghirami) sacked Bona in Algeria, killing 470 and taking 1,464 captives.This victory is commemorated by a series of frescoes painted by Bernardino Poccetti in the "Sala di Bona" of Palazzo Pitti, Florence. In 1611 Spanish galleys from Naples, accompanied by the galleys of the Knights of Malta, raided the Kerkennah Islands off the coast of Tunisia and took away almost 500 Muslim captives. Between 1568 and 1634 the Knights of Saint Stephen may have captured about 14,000 Muslims, with perhaps one-third taken in land raids and two-thirds taken on captured ships.
Barbary corsair attacks were common in southern Portugal, south and east Spain, the Balearic Islands, the Canary Islands, Sardinia, Corsica, Elba, the Italian Peninsula (especially the Tyrrhenian coast), Sicily and Malta. They also occurred on the Atlantic northwest coast of the Iberian Peninsula as in 1617, when the North African corsairs launched their major attack in the region. They destroyed and sacked Bouzas, Cangas do Morrazo and the churches of Moaña and Darbo.
Occasionally coastal raids reached farther afield. Iceland was subject to raids in 1627. Jan Janszoon (Murat Reis the Younger) is said to have taken 400 prisoners; 242 of the captives later were sold into slavery on the Barbary Coast. The corsairs took only young people and those in good physical condition. All those offering resistance were killed, and the old people were gathered into a church which was set on fire. Among those captured was Ólafur Egilsson, who was ransomed the next year. Upon returning to Iceland, he wrote an account about his experience. Such captivity narratives by Europeans who had been held in Muslim states eventually constituted a literary genre.
Ireland was subject to a similar attack. In June 1631 Murat Reis, with corsairs from Algiers and armed troops of the Ottoman Empire, stormed ashore at the little harbor village of Baltimore, County Cork. They captured almost all the villagers and took them away to a life of slavery in North Africa. – some lived out their days chained to the oars as galley slaves, while women spent long years as concubines in harems or within the walls of the sultan's palace. Only two of these captives ever returned to Ireland. [ page needed ]The prisoners were destined for a variety of fates
More than 20,000 captives were said to be imprisoned in Algiers alone. The rich were often able to secure release through ransom, but the poor were condemned to slavery. Their masters would on occasion allow them to secure freedom by professing Islam. A long list might be given of people of good social position, not only Italians or Spaniards, but German or English travelers in the south, who were captives for a time. – the Redemptorists and Lazarists – worked for the redemption of captives, and in many countries the wealthy left legacies to support such redemptions.While the chief victims were the inhabitants of the coasts of Sicily, Naples and Spain, all traders of nations which did not pay tribute for immunity or force the Barbary States to leave them alone were liable to be taken at sea. Religious orders
Barbary piracy thrived on the competition among European powers. France encouraged the corsairs against Spain, and later Britain and Holland supported them against France. By the second half of the 17th century, the greater European naval powers were able to strike back effectively enough to intimidate the Barbary States into making peace with them. However, those countries' commercial interests benefited by the pirates continuing attacks on their competitors. As a result, they did not cooperate to impose a more general cessation of corsair activity.
England was the most successful of the Christian states in dealing with the corsair threat.[ citation needed ] From the 1630s onwards England had signed peace treaties with the Barbary States on various occasions, but invariably breaches of these agreements led to renewed wars. A particular bone of contention was the tendency of foreign ships to pose as English to avoid attack. However, growing English naval power and increasingly persistent operations against the corsairs proved increasingly costly for the Barbary States. During the reign of Charles II a series of English expeditions won victories over raiding Barbary squadrons and mounted attacks on their home ports; these actions permanently ended the Barbary threat to English shipping.[ citation needed ] In 1675 a Royal Navy squadron led by Sir John Narborough negotiated a lasting peace with Tunis and, after bombarding the city to induce compliance, with Tripoli. Peace with Salé followed in 1676.
Algiers, returned to war the following year, breaking a treaty made in 1671. After suffering defeats at the hands of an English squadron under Arthur Herbert, Algiers made peace again in 1682, in a treaty that lasted until 1816. France, which had recently emerged as a leading naval power, achieved comparable success soon afterwards. It bombarded Algiers in 1682, 1683 and 1688 to secure a lasting peace, and forced Tripoli to sue for peace by bombardment in 1686. A 2016 study found that Barbary corsairs were less militarily powerful after 1675 than they were at the start of the seventeenth century.
Piracy was enough of a problem that some states entered into the redemption business. In Denmark, "At the beginning of the 18th century money was collected systematically in all churches, and a so called 'slave fund' (slavekasse) was established by the state in 1715. Funds were brought in through a compulsory insurance sum for seafarers. 165 slaves were ransomed by this institution between 1716 and 1736.""Between 1716 and 1754 19 ships from Denmark-Norway were captured with 208 men; piracy was thus a serious problem for the Danish merchant fleet."
In the late 18th century piracy began to arise again. In 1783 and 1784 the Spanish bombarded Algiers to end piracy. The second time Admiral Barceló damaged the city so severely that the Algerian Dey asked Spain to negotiate a peace treaty. From then on Spanish vessels and coasts were safe for several years. Separately, the Danish attacked Tripoli in 1797.
Until the American Declaration of Independence in 1776, British treaties with the North African states protected American ships from the Barbary corsairs. Morocco, which in 1777 was the first independent nation to publicly recognize the United States, in 1784 became the first Barbary power to seize an American vessel after the nation achieved independence[ citation needed ]. The Barbary threat led directly to the United States founding the United States Navy in March 1794. While the United States did secure peace treaties with the Barbary states, it was obliged to pay tribute for protection from attack. The burden was substantial: in 1800 payments in ransom and tribute to the Barbary states amounted to 20% of United States federal government's annual expenditures. The United States conducted the First Barbary War in 1801 and the Second Barbary War in 1815 to gain more favorable peace terms; it ended the payment of tribute. But, Algiers broke the 1805 peace treaty after two years, and refused to implement the 1815 treaty until compelled to do so by Britain in 1816.
The Congress of Vienna (1814–15), which ended the Napoleonic Wars, led to increased European consensus on the need to end Barbary raiding. The sacking of Palma on the island of Sardinia by a Tunisian squadron, which carried off 158 inhabitants, roused widespread indignation. Britain had by this time banned the slave trade and was seeking to induce other countries to do likewise. States that were more vulnerable to the corsairs complained that Britain cared more for ending the trade in African slaves than stopping the enslavement of Europeans and Americans by the Barbary States.
In order to neutralise this objection and further the anti-slavery campaign, in 1816 Britain sent Lord Exmouth to secure new concessions from Tripoli, Tunis, and Algiers, including a pledge to treat Christian captives in any future conflict as prisoners of war rather than slaves. He imposed peace between Algiers and the kingdoms of Sardinia and Sicily. On his first visit, Lord Exmouth negotiated satisfactory treaties and sailed for home. While he was negotiating, a number of Sardinian fishermen who had settled at Bona on the Tunisian coast were brutally treated without his knowledge. As Sardinians they were technically under British protection, the government sent Exmouth back to secure reparation. On August 17, in combination with a Dutch squadron under Admiral Van de Capellen, Exmouth bombarded Algiers. Both Algiers and Tunis made fresh concessions as a result.
The Barbary states had difficulty securing uniform compliance with a total prohibition of slave-raiding, as this had been traditionally of central importance to the North African economy. Slavers continued to take captives by preying on less well-protected peoples. Algiers subsequently renewed its slave-raiding, though on a smaller scale. Europeans at the Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1818 discussed possible retaliation. In 1820 a British fleet under Admiral Sir Harry Neal bombarded Algiers. Corsair activity based in Algiers did not entirely cease until France conquered the state in 1830.
According to Robert Davis, between 1 million and 1.25 million Europeans were captured by Barbary pirates and sold as slaves in North Africa and Ottoman Empire between the 16th and 19th centuries. However, to extrapolate his numbers, Davis assumes the number of European slaves captured by Barbary pirates were constant for a 250-year period, stating:
There are no records of how many men, women and children were enslaved, but it is possible to calculate roughly the number of fresh captives that would have been needed to keep populations steady and replace those slaves who died, escaped, were ransomed, or converted to Islam. On this basis it is thought that around 8,500 new slaves were needed annually to replenish numbers – about 850,000 captives over the century from 1580 to 1680. By extension, for the 250 years between 1530 and 1780, the figure could easily have been as high as 1,250,000.
Davis' numbers have been question by the historian David Earle, who said of Davis' numbers "His figures sound a bit dodgy and I think he may be exaggerating" and cautioned that the true picture of European slaves is clouded by the fact that the corsairs also seized non-Christian whites from eastern Europe and black people from west Africa.
In addition, the number of slaves traded was hyperactive, with exaggerated estimates relying on peak years to calculate averages for entire centuries, or millennia. Hence, there were wide fluctuations year-to-year, particularly in the 18th and 19th centuries, given slave imports, and given the fact that, prior to the 1840s, there are no consistent records. Middle East expert, John Wright, cautions that modern estimates are based on back-calculations from human observation.
Such observations, across the late 1500s and early 1600s observers, account for around 35,000 European Christian slaves held throughout this period on the Barbary Coast, across Tripoli, Tunis, but mostly in Algiers. The majority were sailors (particularly those who were English), taken with their ships, but others were fishermen and poor coastal villagers. However, most of these captives were people from lands close to Africa, particularly Spain and Italy.
From bases on the Barbary coast, North Africa, the Barbary pirates raided ships traveling through the Mediterranean and along the northern and western coasts of Africa, plundering their cargo and enslaving the people they captured. From at least 1500, the pirates also conducted raids along seaside towns of Italy, Spain, France, England, the Netherlands and as far away as Iceland, capturing men, women and children. On some occasions, settlements such as Baltimore, Ireland were abandoned following the raid, only being resettled many years later. Between 1609 and 1616, England alone had 466 merchant ships lost to Barbary pirates.
While Barbary corsairs looted the cargo of ships they captured, their primary goal was to capture people for sale as slaves or for ransom. Those who had family or friends who might ransom them were held captive, but not obliged to work; the most famous of these was the author Miguel de Cervantes, who was held for almost five years. Others were sold into various types of servitude. Attractive women or boys could be used as sex slaves. Captives who converted to Islam were generally freed, since enslavement of Muslims was prohibited; but this meant that they could never return to their native countries.
Captives often suffered from privation on voyages to North Africa if taken at a distance. Those who survived the journeys were often forced to walk through town as they were taken to slave auctions. The slaves typically had to stand from eight in the morning until two in the afternoon while buyers viewed them. Next came the auction, where the townspeople would bid on the captives they wanted to purchase and once that was over, the governor of Algiers (the Dey) had the chance to purchase any slave he wanted for the price they were sold at the auction. During the auctions the slaves would be forced to run and jump around to show their strength and stamina. After purchase, the captives would either be held for ransom, or be put to work. Slaves were used for a wide variety of jobs, from hard manual labor to housework (the job assigned to most women slaves). At night the slaves were put into prisons called ' bagnios ' (derived from the Italian word "bagno" for public bath, inspired by the Turks' use of Roman baths at Constantinople as prisons), which were often hot and overcrowded. However, these bagnios began improving by the 18th century. Some bagnios had chapels, hospitals, shops, and bars run by captives, though such amenities remained uncommon.
Although the conditions in bagnios were harsh, they were better than those endured by galley slaves. Most Barbary galleys were at sea for around eighty to a hundred days a year, but when the slaves assigned to them were on land, they were forced to do hard manual labor. There were exceptions: "galley slaves of the Ottoman Sultan in Constantinople would be permanently confined to their galleys, and often served extremely long terms, averaging around nineteen years in the late seventeenth-century and early eighteenth-century periods. These slaves rarely got off the galley but lived there for years."During this time, rowers were shackled and chained where they sat, and never allowed to leave. Sleeping (which was limited), eating, defecation and urination took place at the seat to which they were shackled. There were usually five or six rowers on each oar. Overseers would walk back and forth and whip slaves considered not to be working hard enough.
According to historian Adrian Tinniswood, the most notorious corsairs were English and European renegades who had learned their trade as privateers, and who moved to the Barbary Coast during peacetime to pursue their trade. These outcasts brought up-to-date naval expertise to the piracy business, and enabled the corsairs to make long-distance slave-catching raids as far away as Iceland and Newfoundland.The English corsair Henry Mainwaring later returned to England after gaining a royal pardon. He was knighted, elected to Parliament, and appointed a vice admiral of the Royal Navy.
The most famous of the corsairs in North Africa were brothers Oruç and Hızır Hayreddin. They, and two less well-known brothers, all became Barbary corsairs; they were called the Barbarossas (Italian for Redbeards) after the red beard of Oruç, the eldest. Oruç captured the island of Djerba for the Ottoman Empire in 1502 or 1503. He often attacked Spanish territories on the coast of North Africa; during one failed attempt in 1512 he lost his left arm to a cannonball. The eldest Barbarossa also went on a rampage through Algiers in 1516, and captured the town with the help of the Ottoman Empire. He executed the ruler of Algiers and everybody he suspected would oppose him, including local rulers. He was finally captured and killed by the Spanish in 1518, and put on display.
Oruç, based mainly on land, was not the best-known of the Barbarossas. His youngest brother Hızır (later called Hayreddin or Kheir ed-Din) was a more traditional corsair. He was a capable engineer and spoke at least six languages. He dyed the hair of his head and beard with henna to redden it like Oruç's. After capturing many crucial coastal areas, Hayreddin was appointed admiral-in-chief of the Ottoman sultan's fleet. Under his command the Ottoman Empire was able to gain and keep control of the eastern Mediterranean for over thirty years. Barbaros Hızır Hayreddin Pasha died in 1546 of a fever, possibly the plague.
English corsair Jack, or John, Ward was once called "beyond doubt the greatest scoundrel that ever sailed from England" by the English ambassador to Venice. Ward was a privateer for Queen Elizabeth during her war with Spain; after the end of the war, he became a corsair. With some associates he captured a ship in about 1603 and sailed it to Tunis; he and his crew converted to Islam. He was successful and became rich. He introduced heavily armed square-rigged ships, used instead of galleys, to the North African area, a major reason for the Barbary's future dominance of the Mediterranean. He died of plague in 1622.
Sayyida al-Hurra was a female Muslim cleric, merchant, governor of Tétouan, and later the wife of the sultan of Morocco.She was born around 1485 in the Emirate of Granada, but was forced to flee to Morocco when she was very young to escape the Reconquista. In Morocco, she gathered a crew largely of exiled Moors, and launched pirate expeditions against Spain and Portugal to avenge the Reconquista, protect Morocco from Christian pirates, and seek riches and glory. She co-founded the Barbary Corsairs with her allies the Barbarossa brothers, who divided the Mediterranean between them—the Barbarossas and their Ottoman fleet operating in the east, and Sayyida al-Hurra and her Moorish and North-African pirates operating in the west. Sayyida al-Hurra became wealthy and renowned enough for the Sultan of Morocco, Ahmad al-Wattasi to make her his queen. Notably, however, she refused to marry in his capital of Fez, and would not get married but in Tétouan, of which she was governor. This was the first and only time in history that a Moroccan monarch had married away from his capital.
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Barbary corsairs are protagonists in Le pantere di Algeri (the panthers of Algiers) by Emilio Salgari. They were featured in a number of other noted novels, including Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe, The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, père, The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame, The Sea Hawk and the Sword of Islam by Rafael Sabatini, The Algerine Captive by Royall Tyler, Master and Commander by Patrick O'Brian, the Baroque Cycle by Neal Stephenson, The Walking Drum by Louis Lamour, Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting, Corsair by Clive Cussler and Angélique in Barbary by Anne Golon. Miguel de Cervantes, the Spanish author, was captive for five years as a slave in the bagnio of Algiers, and reflected his experience in some of his fictional (but not directly autobiographical) writings, including the Captive's tale in Don Quixote , his two plays set in Algiers, El Trato de Argel (The Treaty of Algiers) and Los Baños de Argel (The Baths of Algiers), and episodes in a number of other works. In Mozart's opera Die Entführung aus dem Serail (a Singspiel), two European ladies are discovered in a Turkish harem, presumably captured by Barbary corsairs. Rossini's opera L'Italiana in Algeri is based on the capture of several slaves by Barbary corsairs led by the bey of Algiers.
One of the stereotypical features of a pirate as portrayed in popular culture, the eye patch, may have been partially derived from the Arab corsair Rahmah ibn Jabir al-Jalahimah, who wore a patch after losing an eye in battle in the 18th century.
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Piracy is an act of robbery or criminal violence by ship or boat-borne attackers upon another ship or a coastal area, typically with the goal of stealing cargo and other valuable items or properties. Those who engage in acts of piracy are called pirates. The earliest documented instances of piracy were in the 14th century BC, when the Sea Peoples, a group of ocean raiders, attacked the ships of the Aegean and Mediterranean civilizations. Narrow channels which funnel shipping into predictable routes have long created opportunities for piracy, as well as for privateering and commerce raiding. Historic examples include the waters of Gibraltar, the Strait of Malacca, Madagascar, the Gulf of Aden, and the English Channel, whose geographic structures facilitated pirate attacks. A land-based parallel is the ambushing of travelers by bandits and brigands in highways and mountain passes. Privateering uses similar methods to piracy, but the captain acts under orders of the state authorizing the capture of merchant ships belonging to an enemy nation, making it a legitimate form of war-like activity by non-state actors.
The First Barbary War (1801–1805), also known as the Tripolitanian War and the Barbary Coast War, was the first of two Barbary Wars, in which the United States and Sweden fought against the four North African states known collectively as the "Barbary States". Three of these were nominal provinces of the Ottoman Empire, but in practice autonomous: Tripoli, Algiers, and Tunis. The fourth was the independent Sultanate of Morocco.
The Barbary Wars were a series of conflicts that culminated in two wars fought at different times over the same reasons between the United States, Sweden, and the Barbary states of North Africa in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The Swedes had been at war with the Tripolitans since 1800; they were eventually joined by the Americans.
The Second Barbary War (1815) or the U.S.–Algerian war was fought between the United States and the North African Barbary Coast states of Tripoli, Tunis, and Ottoman Algeria. The war ended when the United States Senate ratified Commodore Stephen Decatur’s Algerian treaty on December 5, 1815. However, Dey Omar Agha of Algeria repudiated the US treaty, refused to accept the terms of peace that had been ratified by the Congress of Vienna, and threatened the lives of all Christian inhabitants of Algiers. William Shaler was the US commissioner in Algiers who had negotiated alongside Decatur, but he had to flee aboard British vessels and watch rockets and cannon shot fly over his house "like hail" during the Bombardment of Algiers (1816). He negotiated a new treaty in 1816 which was not ratified by the Senate until February 11, 1822 because of an oversight.
The term Barbary Coast was used by Europeans from the 16th century to the early 19th to refer to the coastal regions of North Africa inhabited by Berber people. Today this land is part of the modern nations of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya.
Murat Reis the Elder was an Ottoman privateer and admiral, who served in the Ottoman Navy. He is regarded as one of the most important Barbary corsairs.
Occhiali was an Italian farmer, then Ottoman privateer and admiral, who later became beylerbey of the Regency of Algiers, and finally Grand Admiral of the Ottoman fleet in the 16th century.
The regency of Algiers, was a vassal state of the Ottoman Empire in North Africa lasting from 1515 to 1830, when it was conquered by the French. Situated between the regency of Tunis in the east and the Sharifian Empire in the west, the Regency originally extended its borders from La Calle to the east to Trara in the west and from Algiers to Biskra, and after spread to the present eastern and western borders of Algeria.
Oruç Reis was an Ottoman bey (governor) of Algiers and beylerbey of the West Mediterranean, and the elder brother of Hayreddin Barbarossa. He was born on the Ottoman island of Midilli and was killed in battle against the Spanish at Tlemcen in the Ottoman Eyalet of Algeria.
White slavery, white slave trade, and white slave traffic refer to the chattel slavery of White Europeans by non-Europeans, as well as by Europeans themselves, such as the Viking thralls or European Galley slaves. From Antiquity, European slaves were common during the reign of Ancient Rome and were prominent during the Ottoman Empire into the early modern period. In Feudalism, there were various forms of status below the Freeman that is known as Serfdom which could be bought and sold as property and were subject to labor and branding by their owners or demense. Under Muslim rule, the Arab slave trades that included Caucasian captives were often fueled by raids into European territories or were taken as children in the form of a blood tax from the families of citizens of conquered territories to serve the empire for a variety of functions. In the mid-19th century, the term 'white slavery' was used to describe the Christian slaves that were sold into the Barbary slave trade.
The Golden Age of Piracy is a common designation given to usually one or more outbursts of piracy in the maritime history of the early modern period. In its broadest accepted definition, the Golden Age of Piracy spans the 1650s to the late 1720s and covers three separate outbursts of piracy:
Hayreddin Barbarossa, or Barbaros Kheireddin Pasha, born Khizr or Khidr, was an Ottoman admiral of the fleet who was born on the island of Lesbos and died in Constantinople, the Ottoman capital. Barbarossa's naval victories secured Ottoman dominance over the Mediterranean during the mid 16th century, from the Battle of Preveza in 1538 until the Battle of Lepanto in 1571.
Jan Janszoon van Haarlem, commonly known as Murat Reis the Younger, was a Dutch pirate who "turned Turk" after being captured by a Moorish state in 1618. He began serving as a Barbary pirate, one of the most famous of the 17th-century "Salé Rovers". Together with other corsairs, he helped establish the independent Republic of Salé at the city of that name, serving as the first President and Grand Admiral. He also served as Governor of Oualidia.
Salah Rais was an Ottoman privateer and admiral. He is alternatively referred to as Sala Reis, Salih Rais, Salek Rais and Cale Arraez in several European sources, particularly in Spain, France and Italy.
The Turkish Abductions were a series of slave raids by Ottoman pirates that took place in Iceland between 20 June and 19 July 1627. Pirates from Morocco and Algeria, under the command of Dutch pirate Murat Reis, raided the village of Grindavík on the southwestern coast, Berufjörður and Breiðdalur in the Eastern Region, and Vestmannaeyjar ; they captured an estimated 400–800 prisoners to sell into slavery.
The Barbary slave trade refers to the slave markets that were lucrative and vast on the Barbary Coast of North Africa, which included the Ottoman provinces of Algeria, Tunisia and Tripolitania and the independent sultanate of Morocco, between the 16th and middle of the 18th century. The Ottoman provinces in North Africa were nominally under Ottoman suzerainty, but in reality they were mostly autonomous. The North African slave markets were part of the Arab slave trade.
Anglo-Turkish piracy or the Anglo-Barbary piracy refers to the collaboration between Barbary pirates and English pirates against Catholic shipping during the 17th century.
Slavery on the Barbary Coast was a form of unfree labour which existed between the 16th and 18th centuries in the Barbary Coast area of North Africa.
The Expedition of Mostaganem occurred in 1558, when Spanish forces attempted to capture the city of Mostaganem, in modern Algeria, from the Ottomans. The expedition was supposed to be a decisive step in the conquest of the Ottoman base of Algiers, but it ended in failure, and has been called a "disaster".
Ottoman Tunis refers to the episode of the Turkish presence in Ifriqiya during the course of three centuries from the 16th century until the 18th century, when Tunis was officially integrated into the Ottoman Empire as the Eyalet of Tunis (province). Eventually including all of the Maghrib except Morocco, the Ottoman Empire began with the takeover of Algiers in 1516 by the Ottoman Turkish corsair and beylerbey Oruç Reis. The first Ottoman conquest of Tunis took place in 1534 under the command of Barbarossa Hayreddin Pasha, the younger brother of Oruç Reis, who was the Kapudan Pasha of the Ottoman Fleet during the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent. However, it wasn't until the final Ottoman reconquest of Tunis from Spain in 1574 under Kapudan Pasha Uluç Ali Reis that the Turks permanently acquired the former Hafsid Tunisia, retaining it until the French occupation of Tunisia in 1881.