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

By Gillian Weiss | Go to book overview

CHAPTER SEVEN
North African Servitude
in Black and White

Measured numerically rather than imaginatively, French enslavement in North Africa was largely a seventeenth-century affair. One variety of Barbary servitude, however, spanned the Old Regime to the Restoration. It derived not from corsairing but from crashing—on remote strips of the Algerian and Moroccan coast. In those regions, indigenous tribes that rejected centralized government authority—and the treaties they forged—may have seized hundreds of Frenchmen and women (plus additional British, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Scandinavians, and Americans) between the reigns of Louis XV and Charles X.1 As in urban centers, a portion of these shipwreck victims died, primarily from deprivation of food and water in a harsh environment. Likewise, a few converted to Islam and stayed behind.2 It seems, however, that most trekked through miles of rugged terrain before making contact with compatriots either in Algiers or Mogador (now Essaouira), the Moroccan trading port constructed for Europeans in 1764.3 In the interim, slaves collected wood, herded goats, carried water, dragged plows, prepared meals, drove camels, and, on occasion, provided medical services for masters they judged inhumane and possibly cannibal.

Disproportionately the fate of Caribbean colonials, sub-Saharan slave traffickers, and West African explorers sailing close to notoriously treacherous shores, such bondage became more common as France expanded its role in the Atlantic slave trade and retook possession of Senegal from Great Britain.4 From the last quarter of the eighteenth century, it preoccupied various iterations of the French government and fascinated the French reading public. At least eight French accounts—plus additional translations—of death, depravity, and transculturation in the Atlas Mountains and Saharan Desert appeared before 1824, replacing

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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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