Tag Archives: Moriscos

The Sallee Rovers

The twin cities of Sale (Sallee) and Rabat united to form the Pirate Republic of Bou Regreg on what is now the west coast of Morocco. Both were surrounded by medieval walls, well-armed fortresses and high cliffs. The river that divided the two cities, called the Bou Regreg, was dark and muddy filled with rocks and protected by a sandbar and reefs. A gate placed across the entrance added to the safety of the harbor.  (No wonder Emmy in His Obsession was overwhelmed by the forbidding sites confronting her on the docks.)

The Sallee Rovers were composed Moroccans, Moriscos (exiled Spanish Moors), and Europeans. They spoke a lingua franca which was based on Spanish with French, Italia, Portugese, and Arabic. The Sallee Rovers raided the shipping lanes and in the 17th century the coasts of Europe, Iceland, and Newfoundland in their maneuverable xebecs.

While most of North Africa fell during the Arab invasions, the Republic of Bou Regreg proved too difficult to rule. The Sallee Rovers ruled under a governor and council that paid 60% of their plunder to the Sultan of Morocco to leave the Republic in peace. While repeated attempts were made by the Europeans and Muslims to control the Pirate Republic of Bou Regreg, they were all unsuccessful. The Republic of Bou Regreg did not fall until 1818 — about 30 years after Emmy in His Obsession was kidnapped brought to Rabat to be sold into slavery. Check out the harem she would have called home later this week. Click the book cover to read an excerpt or buy His Obsession.

Tomorrow, Slavery on the Barbary Coast      Rita Bay

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The Pirate Republic of Bou Regreg

The Republic of Bou Regreg where Emmy in my novel His Obsession was taken and sold into slavery in a pirate’s harem is located on the west coast of Morocco. The area has been settled for thousands of years – Phoenecians, Romans, Berbers (including the Tuareg like Tariq, the harem master), and later Morisco refugees fleeing persecution in Christian Spain. 

In the 17th century, the small towns of Sale and Rabat united to form the Republic of Bou Regreg, named for the river that flowed between the two towns. Later,  it became associated with the Ottoman Empire . (See pics of ancient & modern Sale /Rabat – including the docks where Emmy and Tariq met and the streets they  would have walked to her new master’s house.)

The republic became a center for trade and supported the piracy in the Strait of Gibraltar, Spain, and other areas. The walled cities and the gated harbor were very useful to the pirates, providing safe harbor and a market for their captured treasures.  Those treasures included plundered gold, silver, spices, silks, fabrics, and slaves which were brought back to the city-state by the pirates after raids on European shipping vessels and towns.  In one decade they took 6,000 slaves and the equivalent of about $5 billion dollars in goods.

Great news!! His Obsession is officially released today. Someone has actually bought one already. Hope they like it. I have a sales history now. Click on the cover of His Obsession to read excerpts or buy.

Tomorrow, the Sallee Raiders. Rita Bay

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