Subject: corsair / slave raider
Culture: Maghribi Arab, Berber, renegade European
Setting: piracy, Mediterranean/Atlantic 17th-early 19thc
Context (Event Photos, Primary Sources, Secondary Sources, Field Notes)
* USS Constitution
"The strength of the Barbary States declined throughout the eighteenth century. But the war between France and Britain created an opportunity for renewed corsair activity. Without the two most powerful European countries interfering with the Barbary States, corsairs freely attacked the ships of weaker nations."
* USS Constitution
"The Barbary corsairs, considered pirates by western nations, patrolled the Mediterranean Sea for their countries: Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli. They allowed free passage to merchant ships with the proper papers, called passports. But merchants caught without passports met a very different fate." ...
* Elgood 1995 p74-75
"The Dutch ... began trading on the Gold Coast in 1591-2, selling guns from 1594; the following year they sold twenty-five 'musketten ende roers'. At about this time the Dutch developed a more efficient cargo ship, the fluit, which was manned by relatively few hands and was built in large numbers. A result of this was that many Dutch sailors were thrown out of work, and some joined the Barbary corsairs, with important consequences for the development of North African firearms. The firearms of the Maghrib were already famous but were greatly improved by the addition of the northern European gunlock.
"The diversity of nationalities and familiarity with distant waters contributed to the preference of the corsairs to raid far and wide. In one short period between 1609 and 1616, 466 English vessels were captured and their crews enslaved. Since the English ships were armed, the sheer number of weapons passing into corsair hands can be imagined, particularly since the English were not the only maritime nation suffering these depredations. In 1627 Algerian corsairs raided Iceland and seized several hundred captives. Raids in strength on the Atlantic coast of France and the British Isles are also recorded, with Cornwall, Devon and Dorset hit badly."
* Treasures from the Tower of London 1982 p118
"The great majority of pistols made in North Africa in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries were based very closely either upon Turkish or upon European models, the former often equipped with miquelet locks and the latter either with flintlocks or snaphance locks. Such pistols were usually considerably decorated, although the ornament is not often of very high quality. The stocks were often inlaid either with wire scrolls or with larger decorative plaques, made of such materials as brass, steel and ... silver and coral."