As the number of Christians taken by the “Mussulman” pirates increased, particularly in the Barbary states from Tripoli to the Atlantic coast of Morocco, Europe responded. Most of the European attacks against the Barbary corsairs were unsuccessful or successful temporarily. In general, the captives were treated cruelly and were in constant danger of losing their lives. Many men accepted Islam as a path out of slavery and joined the pirates in their depredations. Some of the most notorious pirates were Christians who had converted to Islam.
Several Catholic religious orders were founded to redeem and minister the slaves. The Trinitarians, founded in 1198, established hospitals for slaves at Algiers and Tunis and redeemed 900,000 slaves. The Order of Our Lady of Ransom (Mercedarians), founded in the thirteenth century by St. Peter Nolasco, redeemed 490,736 slaves between the 1218 and 1632. St. Vincent of Paul who had been a slave in Algiers for two years founded a ministry to aid and redeem the slaves. Very few women were freed.
Tomorrow, The Plight of Women Captives Rita Bay