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Purchase of Christian captives in the Barbary States.

The Barbary Coast, or Barbary, was the term used by Europeans from the 16th until the 19th century to refer to the Maghreb, the middle and western coastal regions of North Africa—what is now Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya. The name is derived from the Berber people of north Africa. In the West, the name commonly evokes the Barbary pirates and slave traders based on that coast, who attacked ships and coastal settlements in the Mediterranean and North Atlantic and captured and traded slaves from Europe and sub-Saharan Africa.[1]

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History

Ex-Voto of a naval battle between a Turkish ship from Algiers (front) and a ship of the Order of Malta under Langon, 1719.

"Barbary" was not always a unified political entity. From the sixteenth century onwards, it was divided into the familiar political entities of Morocco, Algiers, Tunis, and Tripolitania (Tripoli). Major rulers during the times of the barbary states' plundering parties were the Pasha or Dey of Algiers, the Bey of Tunis and the Bey of Tripoli, all very good subjects who were anxious to get rid of the Ottoman sultan, but who were de facto independent rulers.

Before then the territory was usually divided between Ifriqiya, Morocco, and a west-central Algerian state centered on Tlemcen or Tiaret. Powerful Berber dynasties such as the Almohads, and briefly the Hafsids, occasionally unified it for short periods. From a European perspective its "capital" or chief city was often considered to be Tripoli in modern-day Libya, although Marrakesh in Morocco was the largest and most important Berber city at the time. In addition, Algiers in Algeria and Tangiers in Morocco were also sometimes seen as the "capital".

The first United States military action overseas, executed by the U.S. Marines and Navy, was the Battle of Derne, Tripoli, in 1805. It was an effort to destroy all of the Barbary pirates, free the American slaves in captivity, and put an end to piracy acts between these warring tribes on the part of the Barbary states. The opening line of the "Marine's Hymn" refers to this action: "From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli..."

Footnotes

External material

References

  • London, Joshua E. (2005), Victory in Tripoli: How America's War with the Barbary Pirates Established the U.S. Navy and Shaped a Nation, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., ISBN 0-471-44415-4 
  • LAFI (Nora), Une ville du Maghreb entre ancien régime et réformes ottomanes. Genèse des institutions municipales à Tripoli de Barbarie (1795–1911), Paris: L'Harmattan, 2002, 305 p. [1]

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