Captives and Corsairs: France and Slavery in the Early Modern Mediterranean

By Gillian Weiss | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWO
Salvation without the State

In December 1622 “the poor afflicted and unfortunate captives” held in the Moroccan capital of Marrakech addressed Louis XIII by letter. In meticulous handwriting and florid prose, “remonstrating very humbly, with all possible honor, respect, obedience, and fidelity due to [his] very Christian and sacred majesty,” the captives laid out their claim for deliverance. First, the seven signatories, taken from a twenty-gun, 108-man galleon armed in Marseille and bearing a royal commission to make war “against the Turkish corsairs and other pirates,” suggested that liberty was just reward for aid and loyalty to the crown. After all, they had been fighting at their own expense “for the service of your majesty and the good and peace of our country.” In addition, “clemency, piety, and… devotion” to suffering subjects were established attributes of good kings. Their king should preserve French bodies from “this cruel and insupportable captivity” and follow Christ in becoming “the second redeemer to so many poor languishing souls.” Otherwise, these self-declared loyal subjects might commit the ultimate betrayal. Comparing Islam to a raging sea and themselves to sailors aboard an unworthy boat battered by a violent storm, they warned that some of their companions had already “sunk into the abyss of paganism.”1

The king who would come to be known as “Louis the Just” may have accepted these arguments, predicated on notions of impermanent slavery and selective emancipation, not to mention contractual monarchy. Certainly he appreciated the dangers of religious heterodoxy and the accompanying perils of political subversion. For the previous year and a half, royal forces had been quelling resistance to increased restrictions on Huguenot autonomy, and in October he had celebrated the submission of the Protestant strongholds Poitou and Languedoc.2 Louis XIII also appreciated the value of the captive seamen’s home base, Marseille. Despite its historically contentious relationship with Paris, the city had long played a special role in both protecting and enriching his realm. During

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Captives and Corsairs: France and Slavery in the Early Modern Mediterranean
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Figures vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Note on the Text xiii
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter One- Mediterranean Slavery 7
  • Chapter Two- Salvation without the State 27
  • Chapter Three- Manumission and Absolute Monarchy 52
  • Chapter Four- Bombarding Barbary 72
  • Chapter Five- Emancipation in An Age of Enlightenment 92
  • Chapter Six- Liberation and Empire from the Revolution to Napoleon 118
  • Chapter Seven- North African Servitude in Black and White 131
  • Chapter Eight- The Conquest of Algiers 156
  • Conclusion 170
  • Reference Matter 173
  • Abbreviations 175
  • Appendix 1- Slave Numbers 179
  • Notes 221
  • Bibliography 325
  • Index 379
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