The Forgotten History of the White Slaves of Barbary

[BannedInfo] In today’s day and age when most people think of slavery they think of whites owning blacks and severely abusing them.

Our culture has taught us that this is simply the way it was. While it is true that slavery did exist in America, our country isn’t the only place that slavery was practiced. In fact, it was not invented by American colonists or European explorers.

The origin of slavery was actually in Biblical times. Slavery still continues to this day in many parts of the world, including the Islamic world. In modern times people often forget the little fact that blacks weren’t the only ones subject to becoming slaves. The Barbary slave trade is seldom mentioned in today’s society, most likely because not many are aware of it. During the Barbary slave trade around 1.25 million Europeans were enslaved by Barbary pirates in North Africa.

During the 17th Century, Barbary pirates invaded cities in the coastal areas of Italy, Spain, Portugal, and France. They even invaded areas in England and Ireland. They invaded an Irish town named Baltimore, and almost everyone who resided there was captured and forced into slavery. They took the inhabitants back to Africa on ships, and they never saw Ireland again.

The “Barbary Coast” is a European term originally used for the North African areas that are now Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, and Algeria. The attacks on the villages were so horrific that a number of coastal towns around the Mediterranean were left completely abandoned until much later in the 19th century. Everyone was so fearful of another raid or being captured.

Although it may see like this was all “race-based” slavery, that all. explains:

“In reality, the corsairs were not concerned with the race or religious orientation of those they captured. Slaves in Barbary could be black, brown or white, Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, Jewish or Muslim. And the corsairs were not only Muslim; English privateers and Dutch captains also exploited the changing loyalties of an era in which friends could become enemies and enemies friends with the stroke of a pen.

“One of the things that both the public and many scholars have tended to take as given is that slavery was always racial in nature,” said historian Robert Davis, author of Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters: White Slavery in the Mediterranean, the Barbary Coast, and Italy. “But that is not true,” he added.

Countless numbers of slaves that were captured by the pirates list their lives on the ships the were carted off on. They were forced to work the oars of galleys. They were shackled and chained. They ate, defecated, and slept in the same areas. They were whipped if they dared to stop rowing, and many were whipped to death.

The pirate raids last until late in the 17th Century. This is when Europeans started to become a force to be reckoned with on the seas. They were much more powerful. It wasn’t until the beginning of the 19th Century that with the help from the United States they were able to put up enough of a fight to stop the Barbary Pirate all together.

Occasional incidents continued to occur until another British raid on Algiers in 1824, and finally, a French invasion of Algiers in 1830, which placed it under colonial rule. Tunis was similarly invaded by France in 1881. Tripoli returned to direct Ottoman control in 1835, before finally falling into Italian hands in the 1911 Italy-Turkish War. The slave trade finally ceased on the Barbary coast when European governments passed laws granting emancipation to slaves.


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