For hundreds of years, people living on the coasts of the Mediterranean Sea enslaved one another. Moslems from North Africa captured Italians, French, and Spaniards; and North African Moslems were in turn enslaved by those nations. As prisoners, their ransom and redemption became a form of commerce, which in a curious way created communication networks that brought together these different peoples. Captivity integrated the Mediterranean.
That is in part the argument of today’s guest on Historically Thinking, Daniel Hershenzohn, an Assistant Professor in the Literature, Cultures, and Languages Department at the University of Connecticut. His new book is The Captive Sea: Slavery, Communication, and Commerce in Early Modern Spain and the Mediterranean. It’s a book that is the best possible kind of historical revisionism, challenging us to revise the way that we think about an “accepted past.”
For Further Investigation
The Barbary Wars at the Clements Library–an online exhibition, by the wonderful research library at the University of Michigan. Focused on period long after that discussed in The Captive, Sea, the wars between the new American republic and the North African states engaged in the trade for captives.
Robert C. Davis, Christian slaves, Muslim masters : white slavery in the Mediterranean, the Barbary Coast, and Italy, 1500-1800. (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004)
Molly Greene, “Beyond the Northern Invasion: The Mediterranean in the 17th Century.” Past and Present 174 (2002): 42–71.
———. Catholic Pirates and Greek Merchants: A Maritime History of the Mediterranean. (Princeton, 2010).
Wolfgang Kaiser and Guillaume Calafat, “The Economy of Ransoming in the Early Modern Mediterranean: A Form of Cross-Cultural Trade Between Southern Europe and the Maghreb (Sixteenth to Eighteenth Centuries)” in Religion and Trade: Cross-Cultural Exchanges in World History, 1000–1900, ed. Francesca Trivellato, Leor Halevi, and Catia Antunes. 108–30 (Oxford, 2014)
Joshua M. White, Piracy and Law in the Ottoman Mediterranean (Stanford, 2017).