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Still waiting for an apology from the shores of Tripoli

in 1610 the King of Spain, Phillip III, expelled the Spanish Moors, many of whom had lived in Spain for generations. One large group of 4,000 men and women, called Hornacheros, settled in an almost abandoned Rabat, and became the Sale (or Sallee) Rovers. They hated Spain, and targeted it particularly, but didn't limit themselves. They linked with pirates in Tunis and Algiers, and started raiding merchant shipping. Between 1610 and 1616, they took 466 English ships! Some European captains, including English, joined them when their own governments tried to curb their excesses; one of these was the infamous John Ward. The corsairs soon controlled the Mediterranean.

Unfortunately, captains including John Ward soon realized the cargoes of the ships they took were less valuable than the crews, and they started taking particular care to capture those men.

In July 1625, a mighty fleet sailed up the English Channel, which was soon discovered to be Islamic corsairs of Barbary. The Vice Admiral of Cornwall, James Bagg, was appalled to learn there were over 20 ships; he immediately asked London for assistance. But too late - they swooshed down on The Mount, invading the town while the people were attending Sunday service, and took 60 men, women and children as slaves. Looe was next, but when they arrived they found the populace had been warned and had escaped They managed to capture 80 "mariners and fishermen", then set Looe on fire in retaliation. West Briton lost "27 ships and 200 men". Then another Corsair fleet was sighted in north Cornish waters. They captured Lundy Island in the Bristol Channel, and flew their flag brazenly. Using it as a fortified base of operations, they continually raided the undefended villages of Cornwall. They seized people in Padstow, and threatened to sack and burn Ilfracombe. Facing a two-pronged attack, the British admiral sent to solve the problem admitted he could not defeat them.

By the end of 1625, it was estimated they had destroyed 1000 'skiffs' and captured as many people. All the captives had been taken to Sale slave pens, on the Atlantic coast, to be sold. Most ended as house-slaves, or building the immense palace of the Sultan - jobs for which their experiences did not qualify them. (Nothing would qualify them for the conditions in which they were kept, nor the brutalities they suffered.)

The King was petitioned by "distressed wifes of neere 2,000 pore marriners" to open negotiations with "the Kinge of Morocco.. for the redemption of the saide poore distressed captives." In 1627, a representative of the King did just that, but instead of freeing 2,000 as expected, only 197 were released.

Off and on, the slavery trade continued. Thomas Pellow of Penryn, who was 11 when he went sailing with his uncle Captain John Pellow, of the "Francis", which departed Falmouth for Genoa in 1715, was one of the captured Among the crew of the Francis were Lewis Davies, George Barnicoat, Thomas Goodman, Briant Clarke, John Crimes, and John Dunnal. They didn't know that shortly before they left, the Sultan had torn up his treaty with the King, and released the corsairs from any previous restraints. All of the crew of the Francis, including the captain, died in slavery, toiling on Moulay Ismail's palace.

Raids by Barbary pirates on Western Europe did not cease until 1816, when a Royal Navy raid, assisted by six Dutch vessels, destroyed the port of Algiers and its fleet of Barbary ships.

In 1784 two American ships (the Maria of Boston and the Dauphine of Philadelphia) were captured, everything sold and their crews enslaved to build port fortifications. Christian slaves were preferred and forced to do degrading work and treated harshly so letters would be written home to prompt the payment of a bigger ransom.

American ships sailing in the Mediterranean chose to travel close to larger convoys of other European powers who had bribed the pirates. President Thomas Jefferson proposed a league of smaller nations to patrol the area, but the USA could not contribute. For the prisoners, Algeria wanted 60,000 dollars, America offered 4000. Jefferson said a million dollars would buy them off, but Congress would only appropriate 80,000. For eleven years Americans who lived in Algeria lived as slaves to Algerian Moors.

Continued attacks prompted the building of the United States Navy, including one of America's most famous ships, the USS Philadelphia, leading to a series of wars along the North African coast, starting in 1801. It was not until 1815 that naval victories ended tribute payments by the U.S., although some European nations continued annual payments until the 1830s.

The United States Marine Corps actions in these wars led to the line, "to the shores of Tripoli" in the opening of the Marine Hymn.


Fascinating. Where can I read more about this?

TE _ "White Gold: The Extraordinary Story of Thomas Pellow and Islam's One Million White Slaves" seems like a good starting book

Ah, but Mr E, you forget. Anything done by the followers of the prophet is forgiven - it's just their culture after all. Should the same have been be done by God-fearing Englishfolk, however, we are expected to grovel in apology until Kingdom come.

For is it not written: "Unto the nth generation shall you chastise them for the sins of their fathers extracting concessions and loot as much as it pleaseth you". Book of Philemon, Ch1 v3-5.

Excellent post. Truly fascinating!
Thank you very much.

Castration: don't forget the demand for eunuchs. Or did they reserve that treat for their black slaves?

Fascinating slice of history - it's going in this evening's Blogfocus.

"Raids by Barbary pirates on Western Europe did not cease until 1816, when a Royal Navy raid, assisted by six Dutch vessels, destroyed the port of Algiers and its fleet of Barbary ships"

Wait a minute - no wonder we're in deep sh*t here. Not only was there no UN resolution approving this manifestly disproportionate action, there was no UN. I don't believe the "Concert of Europe" (a white Christian European construct if ever there was one) counts for these purposes under human rights legislation. How much do we owe Algeria for this atrocity? A down payment of about £1 billion to start with should keep things under control for the time being.

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