|Part of a series on|
A galley slave is a slave rowing in a galley, either a convicted criminal sentenced to work at the oar ( French : galérien), or a kind of human chattel, often a prisoner of war, assigned to his duty of rowing.
Ancient navies generally preferred to rely on free men to man their galleys. Slaves were usually not put at the oars except in times of pressing manpower demands or extreme emergency, [ citation needed ]and in some of these cases they would earn their freedom by this. There is no evidence that ancient navies ever made use of condemned criminals as oarsmen, despite the popular image from novels such as Ben-Hur .
In Classical Athens, a leading naval power of Classical Greece, rowing was regarded as an honorable profession of which men should possess some practical knowledge,and sailors were viewed as instrumental in safeguarding the state. According to Aristotle, the common people on the rowing benches won the Battle of Salamis, thereby strengthening the Athenian democracy.
The special characteristics of the trireme, with each of its 170 oars being handled by a single oarsman, demanded the commitment of skilled freemen; rowing required coordination and training on which success in combat and the lives of all aboard depended.Also, practical difficulties such as the prevention of desertion or revolt when bivouacking (triremes used to be hauled on land at night) made free labour more secure and more economical than slaves.
In the 5th and 4th centuries BC, Athens generally followed a naval policy of enrolling citizens from the lower classes (thetes), metics (foreigners resident in Athens) and hired foreigners.Although it has been argued that slaves formed part of the rowing crew in the Sicilian Expedition, a typical Athenian trireme crew during the Peloponnesian War consisted of 80 citizens, 60 metics and 60 foreign hands.
However, when put under military pressure by the Spartans in the final stages of the conflict, Athens, in an all-out effort, mobilized all men of military age, including all slaves.After the victorious Battle of Arginusae, the freed slaves were even given Athenian citizenship, in a move interpreted as an attempt to keep them motivated rowing for Athens. On two other occasions during the war, captured enemy galley slaves were given freedom by the victors.
In Sicily, the tyrant Dionysios (ca. 432–367 BC) once set all slaves of Syracuse free to man his galleys, employing thus freedmen, but otherwise relied on citizens and foreigners as oarsmen.
Slaves accompanying officers and hoplite marines as personal attendants into war are assumed by modern scholars to have also assisted in the rowing when need arose,but there is no definite proof on this point, and they should not be regarded as regular members of the crew. When travelling over the sea on personal matters, it was common that both master and slave pulled the oar.
In Roman times, reliance on rowers of free status continued. Slaves were usually not put at the oars, except in times of pressing manpower demands or extreme emergency.
Thus, in the drawn-out Second Punic War with Carthage, both navies are known to have resorted to slave labour. In the aftermath of Cannae, a levy of slaves was equipped and trained by private Roman individuals for Titus Otacilius’ squadron in Sicily (214 BC).After the capture of New Carthage five years later, local slaves were impressed by Scipio in his fleet on the promise of freedom after the war to those who showed good will as rowers. At the end of the war, Carthage, alarmed over the impending invasion by Scipio, bought five thousand slaves to row its fleet (205 BC). It has been suggested that the introduction of polyremes at the time, particularly of the quinquereme, facilitated the use of little-trained labour, as these warships only needed a skilled man for the position nearest the loom (middle part of the oar), while the remaining rowers at the oar followed his lead.
Nonetheless, the Romans seemed to avoid the use of slave rowers in their subsequent wars with the Hellenistic east. Livy records that naval levies in the War against Antiochos consisted of freedmen and colonists (191 BC),while in the Third Macedonian War (171 BC–168 BC) Rome's fleet was manned by freedmen with Roman citizenship and allies. In the final showdown of the civil war between Octavian and Sextus Pompey, the adversaries enlisted among others slaves, but set them free before putting them to the oars, indicating that the prospect of freedom was judged instrumental in keeping the rowers motivated. In Imperial times, provincials who were free men became the mainstay of the Roman rowing force.
Only in the Late Middle Ages did slaves begin to be increasingly employed as rowers. It also became the custom among the Mediterranean powers to sentence condemned criminals to row in the war-galleys of the state (initially only in time of war). Traces of this practice appear in France as early as 1532, but the first legislative enactment comes in the Ordonnance d'Orléans of 1561. In 1564 Charles IX of France forbade the sentencing of prisoners to the galleys for fewer than ten years. A brand of the letters GAL identified the condemned galley-slaves.[ citation needed ]
Naval forces from both Christian and Muslim countries often turned prisoners of war into galley-slaves. Thus, at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571, 12,000 Christian galley slaves were freed from the Ottoman Turks.
The Knights Hospitaller made use of galley slaves and debtors (Italian : buonavoglie) to row their galleys during their rule over the Maltese Islands.
In 1622, Saint Vincent de Paul, as a former slave himself (in Tunis), became chaplain to the galleys and ministered to the galley slaves.[ citation needed ]
In 1687 the governor of New France, Jacques-René de Brisay de Denonville, seized, chained, and shipped 50 Iroquois chiefs from Fort Frontenac to Marseille, France, to be used as galley slaves.[ citation needed ]
King Louis XIV of France, who wanted a bigger fleet, ordered that the courts should sentence men to the galleys as often as possible, even in times of peace; he even sought to transform the death penalty to sentencing to the galleys for life (and unofficially did so—a letter exists to all French judges, that they should, if possible, sentence men to life in the galleys instead of death).[ citation needed ]
By the end of the reign of Louis XIV in 1715 the use of the galley for war purposes had practically ceased, but the French Navy did not incorporate the corps of the galleys until 1748. From the reign of Henry IV, Toulon functioned as a naval military port, Marseille having become a merchant port, and served as the headquarters of the galleys and of the convict rowers (galériens). After the incorporation of the galleys, the system sent the majority of these latter to Toulon, the others to Rochefort and to Brest, where they worked in the arsenal.[ citation needed ]
Convict rowers also went to a large number of other French and non-French cities: Nice, Le Havre, Nîmes, Lorient, Cherbourg, Saint-Vaast-la-Hougue, La Spezia, Antwerp and Civitavecchia; but Toulon, Brest and Rochefort predominated. At Toulon the convicts remained (in chains) on the galleys, which were moored as hulks in the harbour. Their shore prisons had the name bagnes ("baths"), a name given to such penal establishments first by the Italians ( bagno ), and allegedly deriving from the prison at Constantinople situated close by or attached to the great baths there.[ citation needed ]
All French convicts continued to use the name galérien even after galleys went out of use; only after the French Revolution did the new authorities officially change the hated name—with all it signified—to forçat ("forced"). The use of the term galérien nevertheless continued until 1873, when the last bagne in France (as opposed to the bagnes relocated to French Guiana), the bagne of Toulon, closed definitively. In Spain, the word galeote continued in use as late as the early 19th century for a criminal condemned to penal servitude. In Italian the word galera is still in use for a prison.[ citation needed ]
A vivid account of the life of galley-slaves in France appears in Jean Marteilhes's Memoirs of a Protestant , translated by Oliver Goldsmith, which describes the experiences of one of the Huguenots who suffered after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685.[ citation needed ]
Madame de Sevigne, a revered French author, wrote from Paris on April 10, 1671 (Letter VII): "I went to walk at Vincennes, en Troche* and by the way met with a string of galley-slaves ; they were going to Marseilles, and will be there in about a month. Nothing could have been surer than this mode of conveyance, but another thought came into my head, which was to go with them myself. There was one Duval among them, who appeared to be a convertible man. You will see them when they come in, and I suppose you would have been agreeably surprised to have seen me in the midst of the crowd of women that accompany them."
Galley-slaves lived in unsavoury conditions, so even though some sentences prescribed a restricted number of years, most rowers would eventually die, even if they survived the conditions, shipwreck and slaughter or torture at the hands of enemies or of pirates. Additionally, nobody ensured that prisoners were freed after completing their sentences. As a result, imprisonment for 10 years could in reality mean imprisonment for life because nobody except the prisoner would either notice or care.[ citation needed ]
The Barbary pirates of the 16th to 19th centuries used galley slaves, often captured Europeans from Italy or Spain. The Ottoman Sultan in Istanbul also used galley slaves.
In Southeast Asia, from the mid-18th to the late-19th centuries, the lanong and garay warships of the Iranun and Banguingui pirates were crewed entirely with male galley slaves captured from previous raids. Conditions were brutal and it was not uncommon for galley slaves to die on voyages from exhaustion. Slaves were kept bound to their stations and were fed poorly. Slaves who mistimed their strokes were caned by overseers. Most of the slaves were Tagalogs, Visayans, and "Malays" (including Bugis, Mandarese, Iban, and Makassar). There were also occasional European and Chinese captives.
A short account of his 10 years as a galley-slave is given by the character Farrabesche in "The Village Rector" by Honoré de Balzac. He is sentenced to the galleys as a result of his life as a "chauffeur" (in this case the word refers to a brigand who threatened landowners by roasting them).
In one of his ill-fated adventures, Miguel de Cervantes's Don Quixotefrees a row of prisoners sent to the galleys, including Ginés de Pasamonte. The prisoners, however, beat him. (Cervantes himself had been captured in 1575 and served as a galley slave in Algiers for five years before he was ransomed).
In The Sea Hawk,a 1919 historical fiction novel by Rafael Sabatini, as well as the 1924 film based on the novel, the protagonist, Sir Oliver Tressilian, is sold into galley slavery by a relative.
The Sea Hawk (1940) was originally intended to be a new version of the Sabatini novel, but the studio switched to a story whose protagonist, Geoffrey Thorpe, was loosely based on Sir Francis Drake, although Drake was never a galley slave. Howard Koch was working on the script when war broke out in Europe, and the final story deliberately draws vivid parallels between Spain and the Nazi Reich. The existence of galley slaves and the misery they endure is set up as a metaphor for life under the Reich. When Thorpe (Errol Flynn) liberates a Spanish vessel full of English captives, the freed men row willingly for home to “Strike for the Shores of Dover”,the stirring music of score composer Erich Wolfgang Korngold and lyrics by Howard Koch and Jack Scholl. The first verse “Pull on the oars! Freedom is yours! Strike for the shores of Dover!” evoked the recent evacuation from Dunkirk. The sets in the 1940 film appear historically accurate.
In Lew Wallace's novel, Judah Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ, Judah is sent to the galleys as a murderer but manages to survive a shipwreck and save the fleet leader, who frees and adopts him. Both films based on the novel— Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1925) and Ben-Hur (1959) —perpetuate the historically inaccurate image of Roman galley slaves.
In the 1943 epic novel The Long Ships, the protagonist, Orm Tostesson, is captured while raiding in Andalusia and serves as a galley slave for a number of years.
The 1947 French film Monsieur Vincent shows Saint Vincent de Paul taking the place of a weakened slave at his oar.
Steven Saylor's Roma Sub Rosa series (covering a period from 92 B.C. to 44 B.C ) includes a novel Arms of Nemesis, which contains an appalling description of the conditions under which galley slaves lived and worked—assuming that they did exist in Rome at that time. (See above.)
C. S. Forester wrote of an encounter with Spanish galleys in Mr. Midshipman Hornblower when the becalmed British fleet is attacked off Gibraltar by galleys. The author writes of the stench emanating from these galleys due to each carrying two hundred condemned prisoners chained permanently to the rowing benches.
Patrick O'Brian wrote of encounters with galleys in the Mediterranean in Master and Commander emphasising the galley's speed and manoeuvrability compared to sailing ships when there was little wind.
In Victor Hugo's Les Misérables , Jean Valjean was a galley prisoner, and was in danger of returning to the galleys. Police inspector Javert's father was also a galley prisoner.
Robert E. Howard transplanted the Institute of galley slavery to his mythical Hyborian Age, depicting Conan the Barbarian as organizing a rebellion of galley slaves who kill the crew, take over the ship and make him their captain in one novel (Conan the Conqueror).
In Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea series, multiple references are made to galley slaves; in The Farthest Shore specifically, Prince Arren is rescued from captivity, and notes the galley slaves imprisoned with him on the ship.
A trireme was an ancient vessel and a type of galley that was used by the ancient maritime civilizations of the Mediterranean Sea, especially the Phoenicians, ancient Greeks and Romans.
The Battle of the Lipari Islands or Battle of Lipara was a naval encounter fought in 260 BC during the First Punic War. A squadron of 20 Carthaginian ships commanded by Boödes encountered 17 Roman ships commanded by the senior Roman consul for the year, Gnaeus Cornelius Scipio, in Lipara Harbor. The Romans' naval inexperience resulted in their entire fleet of their ships being captured.
The Battle of Cape Ecnomus or Eknomos was a naval battle, fought off southern Sicily, in 256 BC, between the fleets of Carthage and the Roman Republic, during the First Punic War. The Carthaginian fleet was commanded by Hanno and Hamilcar; the Roman fleet jointly by the consuls for the year, Marcus Atilius Regulus and Lucius Manlius Vulso Longus. It resulted in a clear victory for the Romans.
The Battle of the Aegates was a naval battle fought on 10 March 241 BC between the fleets of Carthage and Rome during the First Punic War. It took place among the Aegates Islands, off the western coast of the island of Sicily. The Carthaginians were commanded by Hanno, and the Romans were under the overall authority of Gaius Lutatius Catulus, but Quintus Valerius Falto commanded during the battle. It was the final and deciding battle of the 23-year-long First Punic War.
From the 4th century BC on, new types of oared warships appeared in the Mediterranean Sea, superseding the trireme and transforming naval warfare. Ships became increasingly large and heavy, including some of the largest wooden ships hitherto constructed. These developments were spearheaded in the Hellenistic Near East, but also to a large extent shared by the naval powers of the Western Mediterranean, specifically Carthage and the Roman Republic. While the wealthy successor kingdoms in the East built huge warships ("polyremes"), Carthage and Rome, in the intense naval antagonism during the Punic Wars, relied mostly on medium-sized vessels. At the same time, smaller naval powers employed an array of small and fast craft, which were also used by the ubiquitous pirates. Following the establishment of complete Roman hegemony in the Mediterranean after the Battle of Actium, the nascent Roman Empire faced no major naval threats. In the 1st century AD, the larger warships were retained only as flagships and were gradually supplanted by the light liburnians until, by Late Antiquity, the knowledge of their construction had been lost.
A bireme is an ancient oared warship (galley) with two decks of oars. Biremes were long vessels built for military purposes and could achieve relatively high speed. They were invented well before the 6th century BC and were used by the Phoenicians, Assyrians, and Greeks.
A dromon was a type of galley and the most important warship of the Byzantine navy from the 5th to 12th centuries AD, when they were succeeded by Italian-style galleys. It was developed from the ancient liburnian, which was the mainstay of the Roman navy during the Empire.
Rowing is the act of propelling a boat using the motion of oars in the water by displacing water to propel the boat forward. Rowing and paddling are similar. However, rowing requires oars to have a mechanical connection with the boat, while paddles are hand-held and have no mechanical connection.
Bagnio is a loan word into several languages. In English, French, and so on, it has developed varying meanings: typically a brothel, bath-house, or prison for slaves.
A galley is a type of ship that is propelled mainly by oars. 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 effort 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.
Galley tactics were the dominant form of naval tactics used from antiquity to the late 16th century when sailing ships began to replace oared ships as the principal form of warships. Throughout antiquity and the Middle Ages until the 16th century, the weapons relied on were the ship itself, used as a battering ram or to sink the opponent with naval rams, the mêlée weapons of the crew, missile weapons such as bolts from heavy crossbows fixed on the bulwarks, bows and arrows, weights dropped from a yard or pole rigged out, and the various means of setting an enemy alight. The latter could be done by shooting arrows with burning tow or by Greek fire ejected through specially designed siphons.
Tessarakonteres, or simply "forty" was a very large catamaran galley reportedly built in the Hellenistic period by Ptolemy IV Philopator of Egypt. It was described by a number of ancient sources, including a lost work by Callixenus of Rhodes and surviving texts by Athenaeus and Plutarch. According to these descriptions, supported by modern research by Lionel Casson, the enormous size of the vessel made it impractical and it was built only as a prestige vessel, rather than an effective warship. The name "forty" refers not to the number of oars, but to the number of rowers on each column of oars that propelled it, and at the size described it would have been the largest ship constructed in antiquity, and probably the largest human-powered vessel ever built.
Athenian sacred ships were ancient Athenian ships, often triremes, which had special religious functions such as serving in sacred processions (theoria) or embassies or racing in boat races during religious festivals. The two most famous such ships were the Paralus and the Salaminia, which also served as the messenger ships of the Athenian government in the 5th and 4th centuries BC. Other notable ships included one possibly named the Delias, a triakonter believed to be the ship in which Theseus had sailed to Crete, and which was involved in several traditional theoria to Delos; the vessel was constantly repaired by replacing individual planks to keep it seaworthy while maintaining its identity as the same ship. After the reforms of Cleisthenes, a ship was named for each of the ten tribes that political leader had created; these ships may also have been sacred ships.
A liburnian was a type of small galley used for raiding and patrols. It was originally used by the Liburnians, a pirate tribe from Dalmatia, and later used by the Roman navy.
The Bagne of Toulon was the notorious prison in Toulon, France, made famous as the place of imprisonment of the fictional Jean Valjean, the hero of Les Misérables, the novel by Victor Hugo. It was opened in 1748 and closed in 1873.
The Greek navy functioned much like the ancient Greek army. Several similarities existed between them, suggesting that the mindset of the Greeks flowed naturally between the two forms of fighting. The Greeks' success on land easily translated onto the sea. Greek naval actions always took place near the land so they could easily return to land to eat and to sleep, and allowing the Greek ships to stick to narrow waters to out-maneuver the opposing fleet. It was not uncommon for ships to beach and battle on land as well. Developing new techniques for the revolutionary trireme, and staying true to their land-based roots, the Greeks soon became a force to be reckoned with on the sea during the 5th century. They were also one of the greatest armies/naval forces in ancient times.
Ivlia (bireme) is a modern reconstruction of an ancient Greek rowing warship (galley) with oars at two levels and an example of experimental archaeology. Between 1989 and 1994, this vessel undertook six international historical and geographical expeditions in the footsteps of the ancient seafarers.
The Venetian navy was the navy of the Venetian Republic, and played an important role in the history of Venice, the Republic and the Mediterranean world. The premier navy in the Mediterranean for many centuries, from the medieval to the early modern period, it gave Venice a control and influence over trade and politics in the Mediterranean far in excess of the size of the city and its population. It was one of the first navies to mount gunpowder weapons aboard ships, and through an organised system of naval dockyards, armouries and chandlers, was able to continually keep ships at sea, and to rapidly make good any losses.
The Roman withdrawal from Africa was the attempt by the Roman Republic in 255 BC to rescue the survivors of their defeated expeditionary force to Carthaginian Africa during the First Punic War. A large fleet commanded by Servius Fulvius Paetinus Nobilior and Marcus Aemilius Paullus successfully evacuated the survivors after defeating an intercepting Carthaginian fleet, but was struck by a storm while returning, losing most of its ships.
The navy of Achaemenids was the ancient navy of Persian Empire that existed between 525 BC and 330 BC.