Family Barerra, 1718

Recently a ship that our family owned a share of was attacked by the Knights of Malta off the coast of Tinos. They seized the ship and all the goods on it claiming that it was in Ottoman waters even though the war was not yet over. My family along with the captain plan to take our case to the Tribunale degli Armamenti. Since we are Catholic Christians and the captain who is the other owner of the ship is Orthodox Greek, our ship was seized against the Consolato del Mare.[1]

In preparation for going before the tribunal we have been traveling and gathering evidence. We have gathered witnesses’ testimony to take with us to Malta that will show that we are good and devout Catholics and that the captain is also a good and trustworthy Christian. We have done this because the corsairs will almost certainly claim we are not Catholic and that the captain is not Christian. We have also gathered written testimony from witnesses who know that we are the owners of the ship and that the goods that were on board were bought by us with our own money. This we have done because corsairs often try to say goods were bought with Muslim money or that the plaintiff is lying about the amount of goods on board the ship. Additionally, we have found witnesses to the attack that have written a narrative about how they saw the corsairs attack our ship and throw the captain and crew into a raft leaving them at the mercy of the sea. We hope to find legal representation at Malta, but if we cannot find someone we will ask the court to find someone for us. While we have good evidence in our favor we have heard that the corsairs often pay Muslims to claim that plaintiffs are lying and that the word of a Muslim is sometimes taken over a Christian in the court.[2]

The tribunal will likely say that the ship was rightfully seized because it was in Ottoman waters. However, we plan to argue that the war was not yet over and that the ship was in Venetian waters and is owned and captained by good Christians. We will ask that the tribunal return the ship to us along with the goods that were on it.[3]

I pray that we win the case and the ship and goods are returned to us. The loss of the ship and the goods on board has been devastating to our family. When we built the ship and entered in the business arrangement with the Greek merchant we hoped to gain a nice profit. However, now we are spending a considerable amount of money traveling to gather evidence and to appear before the tribunal to get them back. If we do not succeed in winning the case our family will be in very poor shape. If we do not win this case at the tribunal we will have no choice but to turn to the Vatican for justice next.[4]

Adriana Barrera -1718

[1] Molly Greene, Catholic Pirates and Greek Merchants: A Maritime History of the Mediterranean (Princeton University Press: Princeton, 2010), 139-200.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.


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