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The Southern Partisan Reader

The Institute for the Study of Southern History and Culture

Executive Director
Timothy D. Manning, M.Div. 160 Long ridge Drive !ernersville, "orth Carolina #$#%&'6((( Cell) *%0(+ &#0',(,, - tim.thesouthern/artisan.0om 1

Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters: White Slavery in the Mediterranean, the ar!ary Coast, and "taly, #$%%&#'%%
oo( revie) !y Ro!ert C* Davis 1algrave Ma0millan, #00(2 #&6 //.2 3(,.00

4s 5o ert C. Davis notes in this eye'o/ening a00ount of 6ar ary Coast slavery, 4meri0an historians have studied every as/e0t of enslavement of 4fri0ans y 7hites ut have largely ignored enslavement of 7hites y "orth 4fri0ans. Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters is a 0arefully resear0hed, 0learly 7ritten a00ount of 7hat 1rof. Davis 0alls 8the other slavery,9 7hi0h flourished during a//ro:imately the same /eriod as the trans' 4tlanti0 trade, and 7hi0h devastated hundreds of ;uro/ean 0oastal 0ommunities. Slavery /lays nothing li<e the 0entral role in the thin<ing of today=s 7hites that it does for la0<s, ut not e0ause it 7as fleeting or trivial matter. The re0ord of Mediterranean slavery is, indeed, as la0< as the most tendentious /ortrayals of 4meri0an slavery. 1rof. Davis, 7ho tea0hes Italian so0ial history at >hio State ?niversity, 0asts a /ier0ing light into this fas0inating ut negle0ted 0orner of history.

A Wholesale usiness
The 6ar ary Coast, 7hi0h e:tends from Moro00o through modern Li ya, 7as home to a thriving man'0at0hing industry from #

a out 1,00 to 1%00. The great slaving 0a/itals 7ere Sal@ in Moro00o, Tunis, 4lgiers, and Tri/oli, and for most of this /eriod ;uro/ean navies 7ere too 7ea< to /ut u/ more than to<en resistan0e. The trans'4tlanti0 trade in la0<s 7as stri0tly 0ommer0ial, ut for 4ra s, memories of the Crusades and fury over e:/ulsion from S/ain in 1&A# seem to have fueled an almost Bihad'li<e Christian'stealing 0am/aign. 8It may have een this s/ur of vengean0e, as o//osed to the land 7or<ings of the mar<et/la0e, that made the Islami0 slavers so mu0h more aggressive and initially *one might say+ su00essful in their 7or< than their Christian 0ounter/arts,9 7rites 1rof. Davis. During the 16th and 1$th 0enturies more slaves 7ere ta<en south a0ross the Mediterranean than 7est a0ross the 4tlanti0. Some 7ere ransomed a0< to their families, some 7ere /ut to hard la or in north 4fri0a, and the unlu0<iest 7or<ed themselves to death as galley slaves. Chat is most stri<ing a out 6ar ary slaving raids is their s0ale and rea0h. 1irates too< most of their slaves from shi/s, ut they also organiDed huge, am/hi ious assaults that /ra0ti0ally de/o/ulated /arts of the Italian 0oast. Italy 7as the most /o/ular target, /artly e0ause Si0ily is only 1#, miles from Tunis, ut also e0ause it did not have strong 0entral rulers 7ho 0ould resist invasion. Large raiding /arties might e essentially uno//osed. Chen /irates sa0<ed Eieste in southern Italy in 1,,&, for e:am/le, they too< an astonishing 6,000 0a/tives. 4lgerians too< $,000 slaves in the 6ay of "a/les in 1,&&, in a raid that drove the /ri0e of slaves so lo7 it 7as said you 0ould 8s7a/ a Christian for an onion.9 S/ain, too, suffered large's0ale atta0<s. 4fter a raid on Franada in 1,66 netted &,000 men, 7omen, and 0hildren, it 7as said to e 8raining Christians in 4lgiers.9 Gor every large's0ale raid of this <ind there 7ould have een doDens of smaller ones. The a//earan0e of a large fleet 0ould send the entire /o/ulation inland, em/tying 0oastal areas. In 1,66, a /arty of 6,000 Tur<s and Corsairs sailed u/ the 4driati0 and landed at (

Gra0aville. The authorities 0ould do nothing, and urged 0om/lete eva0uation, leaving the Tur<s in 0ontrol of over ,00 sHuare miles of a andoned villages all the 7ay to Serra0a/riola. Chen /irates a//eared, /eo/le often fled the 0oast to the nearest to7n, ut 1rof. Davis e:/lains 7hy this 7as not al7ays good strategy) 8More than one middle'siDed to7n, s7ollen 7ith refugees, 7as una le to 7ithstand a frontal assault y several hundred 0orsairs, and the reis I0orsair 0a/tainJ, 7ho might other7ise have had to see< slaves a fe7 doDen at a time along the ea0hes and u/ into the hills, 0ould find a thousand or more 0a/tives all 0onveniently gathered in one /la0e for the ta<ing.9 1irates returned time and again to /illage the same territory. In addition to a far larger num er of smaller raids, the Cala rian 0oast suffered the follo7ing in0reasingly large's0ale de/redations in less than a 10'year /eriod) $00 0a/tured in a single raid in 16(6, 1,000 in 16(A and &,000 in 16&&. During the 16th and 1$th 0enturies, /irates set u/ semi'/ermanent ases on the islands of Is0hia and 1ro0ida, /ra0ti0ally 7ithin the mouth of the 6ay of "a/les, from 7hi0h they too< their /i0< of 0ommer0ial traffi0. Chen they 0ame ashore, Muslim 0orsairs made a /oint of dese0rating 0hur0hes. They often stole 0hur0h ells, not Bust e0ause the metal 7as valua le ut also to silen0e the distin0tive voi0e of Christianity. In the more freHuent smaller raiding /arties, Bust a fe7 shi/s 7ould o/erate y stealth, falling u/on 0oastal settlements in the middle of the night so as to 0at0h /eo/le 8/ea0eful and still na<ed in their eds.9 This /ra0ti0e gave rise to the modern'day Si0ilian e:/ression, pigliato dai turchi, or 8ta<en y the Tur<s,9 7hi0h means to e 0aught y sur/rise 7hile aslee/ or distra0ted. Constant /redation too< a terri le toll. Comen 7ere easier to 0at0h than men, and 0oastal areas 0ould Hui0<ly lose their entire 0hild' earing /o/ulation. Gishermen 7ere afraid to go out, or &

7ould sail only in 0onvoys. ;ventually, Italians gave u/ mu0h of their 0oast. 4s 1rof. Davis e:/lains, y the end of the 1$th 0entury, 8the Italian /eninsula had y then een /rey to the 6ar ary 0orsairs for t7o 0enturies or more, and its 0oastal /o/ulations had largely 7ithdra7n into 7alled, hillto/ villages or the larger to7ns li<e 5imini, a andoning miles of on0e /o/ulous shoreline to vaga onds and free ooters.9 >nly y 1$00 or so, 7ere Italians a le to /revent s/e0ta0ular land raids, though /ira0y on the seas 0ontinued un0he0<ed. 1rof. Davis elieves /ira0y 0aused S/ain and es/e0ially Italy to turn a7ay from the sea and lose their traditions of trade and navigationK7ith devastating effe0t) 8I4Jt least for I eria and Italy, the seventeenth 0entury re/resented a dar< /eriod out of 7hi0h S/anish and Italian so0ieties emerged as mere shado7s of 7hat they had een in the earlier, golden ages.9 Some 4ra /irates 7ere s<illed lue'7ater sailors, and terroriDed Christians 1,000 miles a7ay. >ne s/e0ta0ular raid all the 7ay to I0eland in 16#$ too< nearly &00 0a/tives. Ce thin< of 6ritain as a redou ta le sea /o7er ever sin0e the time of Dra<e, ut throughout the 1$th 0entury, 4ra /irates o/erated freely in 6ritish 7aters, even sailing u/ the Thames estuary to /i0< off /riDes and raid 0oastal to7ns. In Bust three years, from 1606 to 160A, the 6ritish navy admitted losing no fe7er than &66 6ritish and S0ottish mer0hant shi/s to 4lgerian 0orsairs. 6y the mid'1600s the 6ritish 7ere running a ris< trans'4tlanti0 trade in la0<s, ut many 6ritish 0re7men themselves e0ame the /ro/erty of 4ra raiders.

+ife ,nder the +ash

Land atta0<s 0ould e hugely su00essful, ut they 7ere ris<ier than ta<ing /riDes at sea. Shi/s 7ere therefore the /rimary sour0e of 7hite slaves. ?nli<e their vi0tims, 0orsair vessels had t7o means of /ro/ulsion) galley slaves as 7ell as sails. This meant they 0ould ro7 u/ to any e0almed sailing shi/ and atta0< at 7ill. ,

They 0arried many different flags, so 7hen they 7ere under sail they 0ould run u/ 7hatever ensign 7as most li<ely to gull a target. 4 good'siDed mer0hantman might yield #0 or so sailors healthy enough to last a fe7 years in the galleys, and /assengers 7ere usually good for a ransom. "o lemen and ri0h mer0hants 7ere attra0tive /riDes, as 7ere Le7s, 7ho 0ould usually s0ra/e u/ a su stantial ransom from 0o'religionists. High 0leri0s 7ere also valua le e0ause the Eati0an 7ould usually /ay any /ri0e to <ee/ them out of the hands of infidels. 4t the a//roa0h of /irates, /assengers often tore off their fine 0lothes and tried to dress as /oorly as /ossi le in the ho/e their 0a/tors 7ould send to their families for more modest ransoms. This effort 7ould e 7asted if the /irates tortured the 0a/tain for information a out /assengers. It 7as also 0ommon to stri/ men na<ed, oth to e:amine their 0lothes for se7n'in valua les and to see if any 0ir0um0ised Le7s 7ere masHuerading as gentiles. If the /irates 7ere short on galley slaves, they might /ut some of their 0a/tives to 7or< immediately, ut /risoners usually 7ent elo7 hat0hes for the Bourney home. They 7ere /a0<ed in, arely a le to move in the filth, sten0h, and vermin, and many died efore they rea0hed /ort. >n0e in "orth 4fri0a, it 7as tradition to /arade ne7ly' 0a/tured Christians through the streets, so /eo/le 0ould Beer at them, and 0hildren 0ould /elt them 7ith refuse. 4t the slave mar<et, men 7ere made to Bum/ a out to /rove they 7ere not lame, and uyers often 7anted them stri//ed na<ed again to see if they 7ere healthy. This 7as also to evaluate the se:ual value of oth men and 7omen2 7hite 0on0u ines had a high value, and all the slave 0a/itals had a flourishing homose:ual underground. 6uyers 7ho ho/ed to ma<e a Hui0< /rofit on a fat ransom e:amined earlo es for signs of /ier0ing, 7hi0h 7as an indi0ation of 7ealth. It 7as also 0ommon to 0he0< a 0a/tive=s teeth to see if he 7as li<ely to survive on a tough slave diet. 6

The /asha or ruler of the area got a 0ertain /er0entage of the slave ta<e as a form of in0ome ta:. These 7ere almost al7ays men, and e0ame government rather than /rivate /ro/erty. ?nli<e /rivate slaves, 7ho usually oarded 7ith their masters, they lived in the bagnos or 8 aths,9 as the /asha=s slave 7arehouses 0ame to e 0alled. It 7as 0ommon to shave the heads and eards of /u li0 slaves as an added humiliation, in a /eriod 7hen head and fa0ial hair 7ere an im/ortant /art of a man=s identity. Most of these /u li0 slaves s/ent the rest of their lives as galley slaves, and it is hard to imagine a more misera le e:isten0e. Men 7ere 0hained three, four, or five to an oar, 7ith their an<les 0hained together as 7ell. 5o7ers never left their oars, and to the e:tent that they sle/t at all, they sle/t at their en0hes. Slaves 0ould /ush /ast ea0h other to relieve themselves at an o/ening in the hull, ut they 7ere often too e:hausted or dis/irited to move, and fouled themselves 7here they sat. They had no /rote0tion against the urning Mediterranean sun, and their masters flayed their already'ra7 a0<s 7ith the slave driver=s favorite tool of en0ouragement, a stret0hed ull=s /enis or 8 ull=s /iDDle.9 There 7as /ra0ti0ally no ho/e of es0a/e or res0ue2 a galley slave=s Bo 7as to 7or< himself to deathKmainly in raids to 0a/ture more 7ret0hes li<e himselfKand his master /it0hed him over oard at the first sign of serious illness. Chen the /irate fleet 7as in /ort, galley slaves lived in the bagno and did 7hatever filthy, dangerous, or e:hausting 7or< the /asha set them to. This 7as usually stone'0utting and hauling, har or'dredging, or heavy 0onstru0tion. The slaves in the Tur<ish sultan=s fleet did not even have this variety. They 7ere often at sea for months on end, and stayed 0hained to their oars even in /ort. Their shi/s 7ere life'long /risons. >ther slaves on the 6ar ary Coast had more varied Bo s. >ften they did household or agri0ultural 7or< of the <ind 7e asso0iate 7ith 4meri0an slavery, ut those 7ho had s<ills 7ere often rented out y their o7ners. Some masters sim/ly turned slaves loose during the day 7ith orders to return 7ith a 0ertain $

amount of money y evening or e severely eaten. Masters seem to have e:/e0ted a out a #0 /er0ent return on the /ur0hase /ri0e. Chatever they did, in Tunis and Tri/oli, slaves usually 7ore an iron ring around an an<le, and 7ere ho led 7ith a 0hain that 7eighed #, or (0 /ounds. Some masters /ut their 7hite slaves to 7or< on farms dee/ in the interior, 7here they fa0ed yet another /eril) 0a/ture and reenslavement y raiding 6er ers. These unfortunates 7ould /ro a ly never see another ;uro/ean for the rest of their short lives. 1rof. Davis /oints out that there 7as no 0he0< of any <ind on 0ruelty) 8There 7as no 0ountervailing for0e to /rote0t the slave from his master=s violen0e) no lo0al anti'0ruelty la7s, no enign /u li0 o/inion, and rarely any effe0tive /ressure from foreign states.9 Slaves 7ere not Bust /ro/erty, they 7ere infidels, and deserved 7hatever suffering a master meted out. 1rof. Davis notes that 8all slaves 7ho lived in the bagnos and survived to 7rite of their e:/erien0es stressed the endemi0 0ruelty and violen0e /ra0ti0ed there.9 The favorite /unishment 7as the bastinado, in 7hi0h a man 7as /ut on his a0<, and his an<les 0lam/ed together and held 7aist high for a sustained eating on the soles of the feet. 4 slave might get as many as 1,0 or #00 lo7s, 7hi0h 0ould leave him 0ri//led. Systemati0 violen0e turned many men into automatons. Slaves 7ere often so /lentiful and so ine:/ensive, there 7as no /oint in 0aring for them2 many o7ners 7or<ed them to death and ought re/la0ements. The slavery system 7as not, ho7ever, entirely 7ithout humanity. Slaves usually got Gridays off. Li<e7ise, 7hen bagnomen 7ere in /ort, they had an hour or t7o of free time every day et7een the end of 7or< and efore the bagno doors 7ere lo0<ed at night. During this time, slaves 0ould 7or< for /ay, ut they 0ould not <ee/ all the money they made. ;ven bagno slaves 7ere assessed a fee for their filthy lodgings and ran0id food. 1u li0 slaves also 0ontri uted to a fund to su//ort agno /riests. This 7as a strongly religious era, and even under the most %

horri le 0onditions, men 7anted a 0han0e to say 0onfession andK most im/ortantKre0eive e:treme un0tion. There 7as almost al7ays a 0a/tive /riest or t7o in the bagno, ut in order to <ee/ him availa le for religious duties, other slaves had to 0hi/ in and uy his time from the /asha. Some galley slaves thus had nothing left over to s/end on food or 0lothing, though in some /eriods, free ;uro/eans living in the 0ities of 6ar ary 0ontri uted to the u/<ee/ of agno /riests. Gor a fe7, slavery e0ame more than eara le. Some trades K/arti0ularly that of shi/7rightK7ere so valua le that an o7ner might re7ard his slave 7ith a /rivate villa and mistresses. ;ven a fe7 bagno residents managed to e:/loit the hy/o0risy of Islami0 so0iety and im/rove their 0ondition. The la7 stri0tly for ade Muslims to trade in al0ohol, ut 7as more lenient 7ith Muslims 7ho only 0onsumed it. ;nter/rising slaves esta lished taverns in the bagnos and some made a good living 0atering to Muslim drin<ers. >ne 7ay to lessen the urdens of slavery 7as to 8ta<e the tur an9 and 0onvert to Islam. This e:em/ted a man from servi0e in the galleys, heavy 0onstru0tion, and a fe7 other indignities un7orthy of a son of the 1ro/het, ut did not release him from slavery itself. >ne of the Bo s of bagno /riests 7as to <ee/ des/erate men from 0onverting, ut most slaves a//ear not to have needed religious 0ounsel. Christians elieved that 0onversion im/eriled their souls, and it also meant the un/leasant ritual of adult 0ir0um0ision. Many slaves a//ear to have endured the horrors of slavery y seeing it as /unishment for their sins and as a test of their faith. Masters dis0ouraged 0onversion e0ause it limited the s0o/e of mistreatment and lo7ered a slave=s resale value.

Ransom and Redem-tion

Gor slaves, es0a/e 7as im/ossi le. They 7ere too far from home, 7ere often sha0<led, and 0ould e immediately identified y their ;uro/ean features. The only ho/e 7as ransom. A

Sometimes, the o//ortunity 0ame Hui0<ly. If a slaving /arty had already snat0hed so many men it had no more room elo7 de0<, it might raid a to7n and then rea//ear a fe7 days later to sell 0a/tives a0< to their families. This 7as usually at a 0onsidera le dis0ount from the 0ost of ransoming someone from "orth 4fri0a, ut it 7as still far more than /easants 0ould afford. Garmers usually had no ready money, and no /ro/erty other than house and land. 4 mer0hant 7as usually 7illing to ta<e these off their hands at distress /ri0es, ut it meant that a 0a/tured man or 7oman 0ame a0< to a family that 7as 0om/letely im/overished. Most slaves ought their 7ay home only after they had gone through the ordeal of /assage to 6ar ary and sale to a s/e0ulator. Cealthy 0a/tives 0ould usually arrange a suffi0ient ransom, ut most slaves 0ould not. Illiterate /easants 0ould not 7rite home and even if they did, there 7as no 0ash for a ransom. The maBority of slaves therefore de/ended on the 0harita le 7or< of the Trinitarians *founded in Italy in 11A(+ and the Mer0edarians *founded in S/ain in 1#0(+. These 7ere religious orders esta lished to free Crusaders held y Muslims, ut they soon shifted their 7or< to redem/tion of 6ar ary slaves, raising money s/e0ifi0ally for this /ur/ose. >ften they maintained lo0< o:es outside 0hur0hes mar<ed 8Gor the 5e0overy of the 1oor Slaves,9 and 0leri0s urged 7ealthy Christians to leave money in their 7ills for redem/tion. The t7o orders e0ame s<illed negotiators, and usually managed to uy a0< slaves at etter /ri0es than did less e:/erien0ed li erators. Still, there 7as never enough money to free many 0a/tives, and 1rof. Davis estimates that no more than three or four /er0ent of slaves 7ere ever ransomed in a single year. This meant that most left their ones in the unmar<ed Christian graveyards outside the 0ity 7alls. The religious orders <e/t 0areful re0ords of their su00esses. S/anish Trinitarians, for e:am/le, 7ent on $# redem/tion e:/editions in the 1600s, averaging ##0 releases ea0h. It 7as 0ommon to ring the freed slaves home and mar0h them through 0ity streets in ig 0ele rations. These /arades e0ame one of the 10

most 0hara0teristi0 ur an s/e0ta0les of the /eriod, and had a strong religious orientation. Sometimes the slaves mar0hed in their old slave rags to em/hasiDe the torments they had suffered2 sometimes they 7ore s/e0ial 7hite 0ostumes to sym oliDe re irth. 400ording to 0ontem/orary re0ords, many freed slaves 7ere never Huite right after their ordeals, es/e0ially if they had s/ent many years in 0a/tivity.

.o) many slaves/

1rof. Davis /oints out that enormous resear0h has gone into tra0<ing do7n as a00urately as /ossi le the num er of la0<s ta<en a0ross the 4tlanti0, ut there has een nothing li<e the same effort to learn the e:tent of Mediterranean slavery. It is not easy to get a relia le 0ountKthe 4ra s themselves <e/t essentially no re0ordsK ut in the 0ourse of ten years of resear0h 1rof. Davis develo/ed a method of estimation. Gor e:am/le, re0ords suggest that from 1,%0 to 16%0 there 7as an average of some (,,000 slaves in 6ar ary. There 7as a steady loss through death and redem/tion, so if the /o/ulation stayed level, the rate at 7hi0h raiders 0a/tured ne7 slaves must have eHualed the rate of attrition. There are good ases for estimating death rates. Gor e:am/le, it is <no7n that of the nearly &00 I0elanders 0aught in 16#$, there 7ere only $0 survivors eight years later. In addition to malnutrition, over0ro7ding, over7or<, and rutal /unishment, slaves fa0ed e/idemi0s of /lague, 7hi0h usually 7i/ed out #0 to (0 /er0ent of the 7hite slaves. Grom a num er of sour0es, therefore, 1rof. Davis estimates that the death rate 7as a out #0 /er0ent /er year. Slaves had no a00ess to 7omen, so re/la0ement 7as e:0lusively through 0a/ture. His 0on0lusion) 8I6Jet7een 1,(0 and 1$%0 there 7ere almost 0ertainly a million and Huite /ossi ly as many as a million and a Huarter 7hite, ;uro/ean Christians enslaved y the Muslims of the 6ar ary Coast.9 This 0onsidera ly e:0eeds the figure of %00,000


4fri0ans generally a00e/ted as having een trans/orted to the "orth 4meri0an 0olonies and, later, to the ?nited States. The ;uro/ean /o7ers 7ere una le to sto/ this traffi0. 1rof. Davis re/orts that in the late 1$00s, they had a etter re0ord of 0ontrolling the trade, ut there 7as an u/turn of 7hite slavery during the 0haos of the "a/oleoni0 7ars. 4meri0an shi//ing 7as not e:em/t from /redation either. >nly in 1%1,, after t7o 7ars against them, 7ere 4meri0an sailors free of the 6ar ary /irates. These 7ars 7ere signifi0ant o/erations for the young re/u li02 one 0am/aign is remem ered in the 7ords 8to the shores of Tri/oli9 in the Marine hymn. Chen the Gren0h too< over 4lgiers in 1%(0, there 7ere still 1#0 7hites slaves in the bagno. Chy is there so little interest in Mediterranean slavery 7hile s0holarshi/ and refle0tion on la0< slavery never endsM 4s 1rof. Davis e:/lains, 7hite slaves 7ith non'7hite masters sim/ly do no fit 8the master narrative of ;uro/ean im/erialism.9 The vi0timiDation s0hemes so dear to a0ademi0s reHuire 7hite 7i0<edness, not 7hite suffering. 1rof. Davis also /oints out that the 7ides/read ;uro/ean e:/erien0e of slavery gives the lie to another favorite leftist ho y horse) that the enslavement of la0<s 7as a 0ru0ial ste/ in esta lishing ;uro/ean notions of ra0e and ra0ial hierar0hy. "ot so2 for 0enturies, ;uro/eans lived in fear of the lash themselves, and a great many 7at0hed redem/tion /arades of freed slaves, all of 7hom 7ere 7hite. Slavery 7as a fate more easily imagined for themselves than for distant 4fri0ans. Cith enough effort, it is /ossi le to imagine ;uro/eans as /reo00u/ied 7ith slavery as la0<s. If ;uro/eans nursed grievan0es a out galley slaves the 7ay la0<s do a out field hands, ;uro/ean /oliti0s 7ould 0ertainly e different. There 7ould e no groveling a/ologies for the Crusades, little Muslim immigration to ;uro/e, minarets 7ould not e going u/ all over ;uro/e, and Tur<ey 7ould not e dreaming of Boining the ;uro/ean ?nion. The 1#

/ast 0annot e undone, and rooding 0an e ta<en to e:0ess, ut those 7ho forget also /ay a high /ri0e. ;"D