Author(s): Alan G. Jamieson
The modern increase of piracy in the waters east and south of Somalia has led some commentators to call the area the 'new Barbary'. But what of the 'old Barbary', where from around 1500 to 1800 Muslim corsairs sallied forth to capture Christian ships? For over three hundred years the corsairs of North Africa were the terror of the Mediterranean and beyond, and during that period they are estimated to have captured and enslaved more than a million Christians. The Barbary corsairs began as the maritime vanguard of the Ottoman Turkish empire, the Muslim superpower of the time. They served as a vital component of the main Ottoman fleet, as well as conducting their own independent raiding of Christian shipping and territory. Lords of the Sea covers the dramatic initial impact of the corsairs in the early 1500s, and their eventual breaking from Ottoman control in the early seventeenth century. During this time they rose to the apogee of their powers, extending their activities from the Mediterranean into the Atlantic, venturing as far as England, Ireland and Iceland. They were combatted by the major European sea powers in the second half of the 1600s, and although their activities declined after 1700, it was only in the early nineteenth century that Europe and the new United States of America finally curbed the Barbary corsair menace, culminating in the French conquest of Algiers in 1830. An engrossing tale of piracy, maritime conquest, slavery and exploration, this colourful account will appeal to the wide audience for maritime and general history.
Alan G. Jamieson is a researcher and writer based in Alberta, Canada. He is author of Faith and Sword: A Short History of Christian-Muslim Conflict (Reaktion Books, 2006) and the novel Crossroads of the Years (2008).