Privateering in the Mediterranean went hand in hand with the slave trade from sub-Saharan Africa.
Black African captives – enslaved in the wake of local wars among rival tribes or organised kidnappings – were brought in caravans to trading hubs on the shores of the southern Mediterranean. From here, they were dispatched to Europe, the Mediterranean region and the Islamic world to be employed as military personnel, domestic servants, agricultural workers or as crew members of privateering and other ships. Unlike the American system, slavery in those areas often allowed for improvement in slaves’ conditions. Many were accepted as respected members of the household, gained important military and political positions or even, on occasion, ruled. In the Ottoman Empire, as elsewhere, most black slaves were freed in the mid-19th century, as convictions that slavery should be abolished increasingly took hold.