Piracy, Slavery, and Redemption: Barbary Captivity Narratives from Early Modern England

Piracy, Slavery, and Redemption: Barbary Captivity Narratives from Early Modern England

Piracy, Slavery, and Redemption: Barbary Captivity Narratives from Early Modern England

Piracy, Slavery, and Redemption: Barbary Captivity Narratives from Early Modern England

Synopsis

These narratives recount the harrowing experiences of Englishmen abducted by the Barbary pirates of North Africa. After being sold into slavery, the narrators succeeded in returning to their homeland where their stories were printed. Never before available in a modern, annotated edition, these tales describe combat at sea, extraordinary escapes, and religious conversion, but they also illustrate the power, prosperity, and piety of Muslims in the early modern Mediterranean. Each narrative is preceded by a brief introduction, and Nabil Matar's genera introduction provides important new information about the historical context of captivity and slavery in North Africa.

Excerpt

Throughout the Elizabethan period and during the seventeenth century, British seamen and traders, pirates and privateers, sailed to the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts in search of markets, booty, and profitable relations with foreign allies. During their forays to the East, British vessels were sometimes seized by ships from North Africa, and their crews abducted and enslaved. Some of these British captives succeeded in returning to their homes, where they wrote accounts of their captivity. These narratives have remained in rare editions or manuscripts and are therefore inaccessible to the student of early modern history and literature.

The purpose of this book is to present seven complete captivity narratives from among the twenty-five or so extant accounts that are set in North Africa and were written between 1577, when John Fox escaped from his captivity in Egypt, and 1704, when Joseph Pitts's memoir of captivity and conversion to Islam was published (see the bibliography at the end of this volume). In recent years, there have been numerous studies and editions of the narratives that describe captivity among the North American Indians (in and after the late seventeenth century), and recently an edition of American Barbary captivity narratives was published, including nine texts about Americans who were captured by North Africans (these were originally printed between 1703 . . .

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