Privateering and captivity in the Mediterranean
Some victims of the privateers' wars suffered an exceptional fate.
Captives seized by privateers were generally dispersed far from their homelands. Spaniards, Italians, Portuguese, French, Dutch and English ended up in Tripoli, Algiers, Tunis or Salé. Muslim captives from the Maghreb and Ottoman Turkey were taken to Malta, Marseille, Spain and Italy. Captured prisoners could be freed for a ransom, usually monetary or in kind. The fate of others depended on certain criteria. The most competent could advance socially and even join the court of a sovereign, including some captured Christians of European descent who converted to Islam. For example, the Muradid Beys of Tunis descended from an Italian Corsican, while Hammuda Pasha, the great builder of Tunis, and the reformer Ahmad Pasha Bey I were born to a Genoese captive. Most captives, however, were not so lucky and ended up working on state-sponsored projects, in penal colonies and on galleys.
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Privateering and captivity in the Mediterranean

Privateering in the Mediterranean
Military slaves or Mamluks
Sub-Saharan African slaves
List of 49 men, women and children from the district of Chiavari (on the Italian cost, near Genoa) who were kept as slaves in Tunis, Tripoli and Algiers, in March 1816

23 March 1816

State Archives of Genoa, Genoa, Italy

This list of enslaved men, women and children from Chiavari in Italy gives a a glimpse of the careful record-keeping after privateering campaigns. Many Italians were taken to Tunisia, many rising to serve as political or military officials. During the reign of Hammuda Pasha Bey, Italian even became the official language of correspondence with foreigners.

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In this Exhibition
About the Exhibition
Privateering and captivity in the Mediterranean
Migrations within the Ottoman Empire
North–South movements
The life of European immigrant communities: Egypt and Tunisia