Family ben David, August 3, 1651

Protocol of Moses ben David II, Son of Moses ben David, notary public for the city of Alexandria , kept for the purpose of accounts , personal business, and all other details related to the job of a notary public within the jurisdiction of Alexandria. Kept for the purpose of providing evidence and facts when disputes arise.

August 3,1651- Today a corsair ship made port in Alexandria. They brought with them the spoils of their long voyage out at sea. The re’is is sure to triple his and his investors’ money with his haul.[1] On his return the corsairs have brought back several tons of goods from gold and silver to clothing and slaves.[2] The slaves were all of European decent, from what I was able to gather mostly from  along the coast of Venice. The price they shall get in the bedestan for these slaves shall be the greatest reward for the corsair’s time abroad. They will likely bring a high price, as right now the slave trade is at a high that has not previously been known within this land. Every day the demand for these Christian slaves grows. The necessity for slaves just to continue on everyday activities required for the state and life to go on increases. Without the slaves brought by these brave corsairs continuing to come in,  society and glorious civilization here within the Ottoman Empire, I believe, would come to an abrupt halt.

Even within my own family the necessity of slave labor is clear and present. My brother Jorah ben David owns ten Christian slaves. Jorah puts his slaves to work within his house to deal with the everyday cleaning washing, cooking, sewing, gardening, etc that is necessary for a respectable house to be kept. It would be neither possible nor respectable for a man of his stature to have his wife do these tasks, thus making it necessary for him to maintain these slaves less he and his family be seen as lesser members of society to be gossiped over and ridiculed.

However, even with it being so necessary to have slaves within our current society it is ever a pang of guilt and sadness when I think of my father’s brother Azim. When Azim was only a man of twenty, full of life and opportunity, he was captured by Christian slavers. Once captured Azim was taken to Spain and enslaved for nearly twenty years. He was finally able to escape his captors after they became lax in their watching of him after his being in their service for so long. Growing up I heard on many occasion the dreadful accounts of his captivity with the Christians.  He often described how he would be punished for any little indiscretion, real or perceived. How he was often in want of food and water. He once told us of how he was crammed into a small room with twenty other slaves with little room to breathe, let alone sleep. When hearing these stories I could scarce believe the horror of such a thing being done to another man by his fellow man, but as I came of age I realized that we here treat our slaves no better. Many of the mistreatments my uncle experienced we as a people imitate wholeheartedly. For a time I could not bring my self to understand how we could repeat this misuse of our fellow man when we are supposed to be the superior nation. However, as I became older and wiser I realized the necessity of slaves in our nation and that their treatment is only fair considering what wrongs they probably gave unto those of my people enslaved within their nation.

[1] For more on re’is(the captain) and corsair activity look at,  Robert C. Davis , Christian Slaves , Muslim Masters: White Slavery in the Mediterranean , the Barbary Coast, and Italy , 1500-1800 (New York:Palgrave/Macmillian ,2004), especially chapters 2 and 4.

[2] Pirate activity that affected the young united states



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