Barbary slaves

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 for sexual services, the traditional “fate worse than death”. 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.[24][25]

Historian Robert C. Davis estimated that between 1530 and 1780, 1–1.25 million Europeans were captured and taken as slaves to North Africa, principally Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli, but also Constantinople and Salé.[26]

Sultan of Morocco, by Eugène Delacroix

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),[27] 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.

Galley slaves

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.”[28] 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.

Freedom for slaves

Barbary slaves could hope to be freed through payment of a ransom. Despite the efforts of middlemen and charities to raise money to provide ransoms, they were still very difficult to come by. As European communities increased their charity funding for ransoming slaves, North African states increased the amount of ransom required. Lack of money to pay a ransom was not the only problem. Persons taken captive needed to notify their families of their status and tell them the ransom price. Mail charges were often beyond the reach of ordinary captive slaves, and it could take several months for the mail to be delivered.

After payment of a ransom, slaves were often taken to a port to wait for the ransom to be finalized. In some cases in the 17th and 18th centuries, slaves were kept under quarantinedue to fear of the plague threatening the life of the slave and payment of the ransom.

Not many Barbary slaves could depend on being ransomed by their communities. They had to be deemed worthy of it and many poor people were never ransomed. The tribute prices for the slaves usually varied based on their usefulness on a ship. So a ship master would cost more than a common seaman. Escaping was another possibility, but rarely successful; Cervantes, future author of Don Quijote, made four unsuccessful attempts to escape from slavery, and was eventually ransomed by his family. Thomas Pellow was a successful escaped slave who published his story in 1740. After several failed attempts, in which he was nearly killed, Pellow had finally escaped to Gibraltar in July 1738.

Notes

  1. A 44-gun Algerian corsair appeared at Río de la Plata in 1720. Cesáreo Fernández DuroArmada española desde la unión de los reinos de Castilla y de León, Madrid, 1902, Vol. VI, p. 185
  2. a b “British Slaves on the Barbary Coast”.
  3. a b c d Review of Pirates of Barbary by Ian W. Toll, New York Times, 12 Dec. 2010
  4. Pryor (1988), p. 192
  5. Linda Colley (2004) Captives: Britain, Empire, and the World, 1600–1850, Anchor Books Edition, New York ISBN 978-0-385-72146-2
  6. Roberts, Priscilla H. and Richard S. Roberts, Thomas Barclay (1728–1793: Consul in France, Diplomat in Barbary, Lehigh University Press, 2008, pp. 206–223.
  7. “Milestones of American Diplomacy, Interesting Historical Notes, and Department of State History”U.S. Department of State. Retrieved 2007-12-17.
  8. “Cohen Renews U.S.-Morocco Ties” (mil). U.S. Department of Defense. Retrieved 2009-03-12.
  9. Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters: White Slavery in the Mediterranean, the Barbary Coast and Italy, 1500–1800. Robert Davis (2004). p.45. ISBN 1-4039-4551-9.
  10. Kritzler, Edward (November 3, 2009). Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean. Anchor. pp. 59–60. ISBN 978-0-7679-1952-4. Retrieved 2010-05-02.
  11. Plaut, Steven (October 15, 2008). “Putting the Oy Back into ‘Ahoy'”. Retrieved 2010-04-27. [1][2][3]
  12.  a b c d  Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). “Barbary Pirates“. Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  13. Her Majesty’s Commission, State Papers (1849). King Henry the Eighth Volume 10 Part V Foreign Correspondence 1544-45. London.
  14. Mercati, Angelo (1982). Saggi di storia e letteratura, vol. II. Rome.
  15. “History of Menorca”.
  16. Alfred S. Bradford (2007), Flying the Black Flag, p. 132.
  17. John B. Hattendorf and Richard W. Unger (2003). War at Sea in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Boydell Press.
  18. “Curator’s comments on a draft study by Bernardino Poccetti”. The British Museum.
  19. Palazzo Pitti”.
  20. a b Jamieson, Alan (2012). Lords of the Sea: A History of the Barbary Corsairs. London.
  21. Ekin, Des (2006). The Stolen Village – Baltimore and the Barbary Pirates. OBrien. ISBN 978-0-86278-955-8.
  22. a b Peter Madsen, “Danish slaves in Barbary”Islam in European Literature Conference, Denmark
  23. Oren, Michael B. (2005-11-03). “The Middle East and the Making of the United States, 1776 to 1815”. Retrieved 2007-02-18.
  24. Diego de Haedo, Topografía e historia general de Argel, 3 vols., Madrid, 1927-29.
  25. Daniel Eisenberg, “¿Por qué volvió Cervantes de Argel?”, in Ingeniosa invención: Essays on Golden Age Spanish Literature for Geoffrey L. Stagg in Honor of his Eighty-Fifth Birthday, Newark, Delaware, Juan de la Cuesta, 1999, ISBN 9780936388830, pp. 241-253, http://www.cervantesvirtual.com/obra/por-qu-volvi-cervantes-de-argel-0/, retrieved 11/20/2014.
  26. Davis (2003), pp. 3–26
  27. Definition of “bagnio” from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Accessed 23 February 2015
  28. Ekin, Des (2006). The Stolen Village – Baltimore and the Barbary Pirates. OBrien. p. 187. ISBN 978-0-86278-955-8.
  29. Steven Marcus (2008) The Other Victorians: A Study of Sexuality and Pornography in Mid-Nineteenth-Century England. Transaction Publishers, ISBN 1-4128-0819-7, pp. 195–217
  30. Charles Belgrave (1966), The Pirate Coast, p. 122, George Bell & Sons

References

  • Clissold, Stephen. 1976. “CHRISTIAN RENEGADES AND BARBARY CORSAIRS.” History Today 26, no. 8: 508-515. Historical Abstracts.
  • Davis, Robert C., Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters: White Slavery in the Mediterranean, The Barbary Coast, and Italy, 1500–1800. Palgrave Macmillan, New York. 2003. ISBN 0-333-71966-2
  • Earle, Peter. The Pirate Wars. Thomas Dunne. 2003
  • Forester, C. S. The Barbary Pirates. Random House. 1953
  • Konstam, Angus A History of Pirates.
  • Kristensen, Jens Riise, Barbary To and Fro Ørby Publishing. 2005.
  • Leiner, Frederick C. The End of Barbary Terror: America’s 1815 War against the Pirates of North Africa. Oxford University Press, Oxford. 2006
  • Lambert, Frank. The Barbary Wars: American Independence in the Atlantic World. Hill & Wang, 2005
  • Lloyd, Christopher. 1979. “Captain John Ward: Pirate.” History Today 29, no. 11; p. 751.
  • Matar, Nabil. 2001. “The Barbary Corsairs, King Charles I and the Civil War.” Seventeenth Century 16, no. 2; pp. 239–258.
  • Pryor, John H., Geography, Technology, and WarStudies in the Maritime History of the Mediterranean, 649–1571. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. 1988. ISBN 0-521-34424-7
  • Severn, Derek. “The Bombardment of Algiers, 1816.” History Today 28, no. 1 (1978); pp. 31–39.
  • Silverstein, Paul A. 2005. “The New Barbarians: Piracy and Terrorism on the North African Frontier.” CR: The New Centennial Review 5, no. 1; pp. 179–212.
  • Travers, Tim, Pirates: A History. Tempus Publishing, Gloucestershire. 2007.
  • World Navies
  • To the Shores of Tripoli: The Birth of the U.S. Navy and Marines.—Annapolis, MD : Naval Institute Press, 1991, 2001.

Further reading

  • Adrian TinniswoodPirates of Barbary: Corsairs, Conquests and Captivity in the Seventeenth-Century Mediterranean, 343 pp. Riverhead Books, 2010. ISBN 978-1-59448-774-3NY Times review
  • White Gold: The Extraordinary Story of Thomas Pellow and North Africa’s One Million European Slaves by Giles Milton (Sceptre, 2005)
  • London, Joshua E. Victory in Tripoli: How America’s War with the Barbary Pirates Established the U.S. Navy and Shaped a Nation. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2005. ISBN 978-0-471-44415-2
  • The pirate coast : Thomas Jefferson, the first marines and the secret mission of 1805 by Richard Zacks. Hyperion, 2005. ISBN 1-4013-0849-X
  • Christian slaves, Muslim masters : white slavery in the Mediterranean, the Barbary Coast, and Italy, 1500–1800 by Robert C. Davis. New York : Palgrave Macmillan, 2003. ISBN 978-0-333-71966-4
  • Piracy, Slavery and Redemption: Barbary Captivity Narratives from Early Modern England by D. J. Vikus (Columbia University Press, 2001)
  • The Stolen Village: Baltimore and the Barbary Pirates by Des Ekin ISBN 978-0-86278-955-8
  • Skeletons on the Zahara: A True Story of Survival by Dean King, ISBN 0-316-15935-2
  • Oren, Michael. “Early American Encounters in the Middle East”, in Power, Faith, and Fantasy. New York: Norton, 2007.
  • Boot, Max (2002). The Savage Wars of Peace: Small Wars and the Rise of American PowerNew YorkBasic BooksISBN 0-465-00720-1.
  • Lambert, Frank. The Barbary Wars. New York: Hill and Wang, 2005.
  • Whipple, A. B. C. To the Shores of Tripoli: The Birth of the U.S. Navy and Marines. Bluejacket Books, 1991. ISBN 1-55750-966-2

External links

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