The Barbary Corsairs

9 Nov, 2023 900 History

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the North African privateers who, until their demise in the nineteenth century, were a source of great pride and wealth in their home ports, where they sold the people and goods they’d seized from Christian European ships and coastal towns. Nominally, these corsairs were from Algiers, Tunis or Tripoli, outreaches of the Ottoman empire, or Sale in neighbouring Morocco, but often their Turkish or Arabic names concealed their European birth. Murad Reis the Younger, for example, who sacked Baltimore in 1631, was the Dutchman Jan Janszoon who also had a base on Lundy in the Bristol Channel. While the European crowns negotiated treaties to try to manage relations with the corsairs, they commonly viewed these sailors as pirates who were barely tolerated and, as soon as France, Britain, Spain and later America developed enough sea power, their ships and bases were destroyed.

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  • Joanna Nolan No other episodes
    Research Associate at SOAS, University of London
  • Claire Norton 2 episodes
    Former Associate Professor of History at St Mary's University, Twickenham
  • Michael Talbot No other episodes
    Associate Professor in the History of the Ottoman Empire and the Modern Middle East at the University of Greenwich

Reading list

  • Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters: White Slavery in the Mediterranean, the Barbary Coast and Italy, 1500-1800
    Robert C. Davis (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004) Google Books →
  • Corsairs of Malta and Barbary
    Peter Earle (Sidgwick and Jackson, 1970) Google Books →
  • The Stolen Village: Baltimore and the Barbary Pirates
    Des Ekin (O'Brien Press, 2008) Google Books →
  • The Barbary Corsairs: Warfare in the Mediterranean, 1450-1580
    Jacques Heers (Skyhorse Publishing, 2018) Google Books →
  • The Ottoman World: The Mediterranean and North Africa, 1660-1760
    Colin Heywood (Routledge, 2019) Google Books →
  • Lords of the Sea: A History of the Barbary Corsairs
    Alan Jamieson (Reaktion Books, 2013) Google Books →
  • The Kings of Algiers: How Two Jewish Families Shaped the Mediterranean World during the Napoleonic Wars and Beyond
    Julie Kalman (Princeton University Press, 2023) Google Books →
  • The Story of the Barbary Corsairs
    Stanley Lane-Poole (T. Unwin, 1890) Google Books →
  • The Sealwoman's Gift
    Sally Magnusson (Two Roads, 2018) Google Books →
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    Philip Mansel (John Murray, 2010) Google Books →
  • Turks, Moors and Englishmen in the Age of Discovery
    Nabil Matar (Columbia University Press, 1999) Google Books →
  • Britain and Barbary, 1589-1689
    Nabil Matar (University Press of Florida, 2005) Google Books →
  • White Gold: The Extraordinary Story of Thomas Pellow and North Africa's One Million European Slaves
    Giles Milton (Hodder and Stoughton, 2004) Google Books →
  • Conversion and Islam in the Early Modern Mediterranean: The Lure of the Other
    Claire Norton (ed.) (Routledge, 2017) Google Books →
  • The Sea Hawk
    Rafael Sabatini (Vintage Books, 2011) Google Books →
  • Pirates of Barbary: Corsairs, Conquests and Captivity in the 17th century
    Adrian Tinniswood (Vintage Books, 2010) Google Books →
  • Piracy, Slavery and Redemption: Barbary Captivity Narratives from Early Modern England
    D. Vitkus (ed.) (Columbia University Press, 2001) Google Books →
  • Piracy and Law in the Ottoman Mediterranean
    J. M. White (Stanford University Press, 2018) Google Books →

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Programme ID: m001s5ds

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Auto-category: 909.097 (Piracy and privateering in the Mediterranean region)

Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello, until their demise in the 19th century, the Barbary Corsairs were a source of great pride and wealth in North Africa, where they sold the people and goods they'd seized from European ships and coastal towns.