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The Pirate's Realm

The North African ports of Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli among others in the Mediterranean were the havens of the Barbary pirates (Barbary Corsairs), whose most successful period was for about 150 years from the late 1400's onward.

Barbary Pirates in Africa

North Africa - Mediterranean

Barbary pirates ‘dressed’ in privateering clothes as a unique blend of religious warfare, local economics, and Ottoman naval defense. The cities were perched on the edge of an unproductive desert, and residents naturally looked to the sea for their resources.flag of Tunisia, barbary pirates, barbarossa brothers, ottoman navy

The local leaders who were loyal to the Ottoman ruler worked hand-in-hand with the corsairs to the point that they eventually came to be elected from among them, and the pirates of the Mediterranean affected nearly every part of society.

Barbary pirates usually enjoyed longer careers and life spans, if not for any other reason than their protected status courtesy of the Ottoman Empire.

The Barbarossa Brothers

The Barbarossa brothers' career lasted some fifty years in the early 1500's as they progressively moved their base further west during their increasingly harsh attacks against the Spanish.

flag of Algeria, Algerian flagThey each had a turn at being the Sultan of Algiers while they were securing Ottoman control of the Mediterranean, and the younger Hizir was an Otttoman commander when he died in 1547.


Murat Rais in a good mood

Murat Rais enjoyed a very long run at piracy, and was even named "Captain of the Sea" by the Sultan of Algiers. He was notorious for his attacks on Christian targets on land or sea and was reportedly around 100 years old when he was killed in 1638 during an Ottoman siege of Vlore in Albania.

Corruption slowly spread in the Ottoman Empire after the death of Sulayman the Magnificent in 1566, and the resulting loss of military power, territory, and economic stability led to a long period of decline until the empire was called the "Sick Man of Europe" by the early 1800's.

There was at that time a brief resurgence of piracy in the region, which was suppressed through the coordinated attacks of European and US powers.

A galley ship

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