From the 17th century, raids by Barbary pirates were common in Portugal, Spain, the Balearic Islands, the Canary Islands, Sardinia, Corsica, Elba, southern Italy, Sicily and Malta. Vast expanses of coastal lands lay vacant. More than 20,000 captives were enslaved in Algiers alone. The pirates took the young and health. Those who fought were killed and the old were murdered. In one attack in Iceland, the aged were herded into a church and the pirates torched the church. (See pic of Constantinople slave market)
Some men were ransomed by wealthy families, the poor were sold into slavery. Redemptorists and Lazarists were religious orders who worked to purchased the freedom of captives. Some of those who were freed wrote slave or captive narratives that gave insights into the fate of the slaves. Male slaves labored in the fields or docks or rowed in the galleys chained to the seats. The women were doomed to be servants or captives in the homes and harems of wealthy.
The tale of Baltimore is a good example Ireland the fate of a hapless village. In June 1631 two hundred Barbary pirates led by Murat Reis attacked the sleeping village of Baltimore in County Cork Ireland. They captured 107 villagers – men, women and children – and carried them away in chains to the slave market of Algiers where they were sold into slavery. Fourteen years later, two of them made their way home. The others spent the rest of their lives as slaves. Many larger cities fell to the pirates and the captives numbered in the thousands.
Tomorrow, the Triangular Trade. Rita Bay