Lords of the Sea: A History of the Barbary Corsairs
Alan G. Jamieson
The escalation of piracy in the waters east and south of Somalia has led commentators to call the area the new Barbary, but the Somali pirates cannot compare to the three hundred years of terror supplied by the Barbary corsairs in the Mediterranean and beyond. From 1500 to 1800, Muslim pirates from the Barbary Coast of North Africa captured and enslaved more than a million Christians.
Lords of the Sea relates the history of these pirates, examining their dramatic impact as the maritime vanguard of the Ottoman Empire in the early 1500s through their breaking from Ottoman control in the early seventeenth century. Alan Jamieson explores how the corsairs rose to the apogee of their powers during this period, extending their activities from the Mediterranean into the Atlantic and venturing as far as England, Ireland, and Iceland. Serving as a vital component of the main Ottoman fleet, the Barbary pirates also conducted independent raids of Christian ships and territory. While their activities declined after 1700, Jamieson reveals that it was only in the early nineteenth century that Europe and the United States finally curtailed the Barbary menace, a fight that culminated in the French conquest of Algiers in 1830. A welcome addition to military history, Lords of the Sea is an engrossing tale of exploration, slavery, and conquest.
birthplace is now named after him as the town of Turgutreis.) The son of a Turkish peasant, he initially became a soldier and served in the Ottoman conquest of Egypt in 1517. Originally linked to the corsair Sinan Reis, Turgut came under the command of Barbarossa around 1520. Proving himself a successful corsair,Turgut served as a commander in Barbarossa’s ﬂeet in his victory at the battle of Preveza in 1538.25 In 1540, however, Turgut’s luck ran out. His force of twelve corsair galleys had been
captives and booty, set off for home.29 The invasion of Corsica was important because of the threat it posed to Spanish sea communications with Italy. The southern route to Italy, from Cartagena in Spain to Naples, passing south of Sardinia and north of Sicily, was already insecure because of the proximity of the bases of the Barbary corsairs in North Africa.The northern route, from Barcelona in 50 Vanguard of the Sultan, 1492–1580 Spain to Genoa in Italy, passing near the north point of
outlook was usually grim. A few managed to escape, but most seemed likely to spend the rest of their lives as prisoners of the Muslims. In this situation, it was only natural that some of the Christian captives should decide to ‘turn Turk’ by converting to Islam. Although many Christian renegades had been captured as children or teenagers and brought up as Muslims, there were also adults who, willingly or unwillingly, went over to the Muslim side. One such was Juan Rodelgas, a Spanish soldier who
Inchiquin was released after Charles ii came to the throne in England in 1660 so as to speed the payment of the ransom for both of them. Charles ii ordered the ransom to be paid quickly and before the year was out, the son rejoined his father. The O’Briens, father and son, were ransomed for a total of 7,500 dollars (3,750 dollars each). To free the 72 English captives from Tunis in 1658 Captain Stoakes had paid a total of 11,250 dollars (an average of just over 156 dollars each). Like their
unresponsive, Algiers declared war in 1791. When peace was restored the following year, Sweden agreed to pay an enhanced tribute of 175,000 rixdollars. Even the Swedes eventually tired of these endless demands. They increased their naval presence in the Mediterranean from 1798, and in 1801 they went to war with the regency of Tripoli. Around the same time the usa was beginning its own war with Tripoli, and initially the Americans coordinated their attempt to blockade Tripoli with the activities