Family Puigcerdà 2 1715

Since roughly 1250, the Genoese have been involved in the salt trade both in
Crete, and especially here in Ibiza.1 Thus, we the Puigcerdà family have had some
familiarity with the salt trade on that island to the east for some time now. Though, with
the strength of Venice in the Eastern Mediterranean, Genoa’s influence in Crete’s
salt trade has never been very strong.2 However, the Genoese haven’t been the only
vehicle for connection between Ibiza and Crete; and we Ibicencos are aware of recent
events on Crete. For example, through our Jewish connections on the Island, we have
learned that since the Ottoman take over of Crete from the Venetians in 1669, the
new Muslim rulers have allowed both Jews and Christians in Candia the right to
buy property in order to repopulate the largely disserted city. For our Jewish
friends on Crete, this is quite a change considering their forced concentration into
Jewish quarters under the rule of the Venetians.3 Our Jewish connections on Crete
also bring news of the island’s salt trade, which has also come under the umbrella of
Ottoman influence with their taking of the smaller island of Spinalonga in 1715.4
Along with this, the Ottoman janissaries have a monopoly on the salt trade in 

Candia, reaping all the profits for themselves.5 Clearly, the recent conquests by the
Ottomans have brought some changes to Crete and its salt trade.
1 Mark Kurlansky, Salt: A World History (Toronto: Vintage Canada, 2002), ch. 6.
2 “The Importance of Salt,” University of California, Davis, May 1999,, accessed 29 March 2016.
3 Molly Greene, A Shared World: Christians and Muslims in the Early Modern Mediterranean (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2000), 85-86.
4 “Spinalonga,” (6 March 2016) Wikipedia,, accessed 29 March 2016.

5 Greene, 103.

Family ben David 2 Ottoman Crete

Candia, another Venetian outpost lost to them. I was shocked to hear this news,
as it has been a long time since the Turks have taken some territory. It appears the
Turks are on the rise again and their lust for empire and conquest cannot be quenched.
One moment they are friendly with the Venetians, the next they are at war and taking
their land. How can this be? I had a very good contact on the island whom would
correspond regularly with me. I heard that many if not all of the Venetians left the
island when the Turks took over. As unfortunate it is to hear this about my friend and
colleague, with the Turks, our own rulers, in power there it will certainly benefit our
own coffers and allow us to receive a better trade deal with our own laws in place.
However, I am concerned that the system they are implementing there might not be
the standard with which we have grown accustomed to here in Cairo. I also heard that
when the Turks took Candia, the city had been abandoned and there was a lot of ‘free’
land to divide up. Perhaps our family can buy some of this property and spread our
own influence in this tumultuous time. From this unpleasantness there could possibly
be a bright side and if we act quickly we can make a fortune. The state they are
establishing there is a lot more diverse that before and we might not be restricted to ac
specific part of the city. Perhaps now is our time to gain power and influence, there is
already a large Jewish presence on the island, this could help us spread our own roots.

Family Ferreira da Fonseca 2 1665

Sons of Fonseca,
Our family has long thrived along the fine line between the Christian and Islamic
cultures. At no time has this balance required a more delicate step than now. As we are now
subject to Spanish law1, under his majesty king Carlos II who allows us to keep our African
slaves, the threat posed by the Moroccans at the gates of our fine city must incline us to lend
thought to the frail loyalties of our native servants. While the Iberians can afford to let
themselves be lulled into the demonstrably false belief that the dusky hue of African skin
indicates an inferior capacity for wile2, the House of Fonseca—indeed all of Ceuta’s sons—have
survived and even prospered by understanding the keen mind of our African neighbors. We
cannot allow our slaves, who serve to increase the profits of our family business, to endanger
those selfsame profits. With the changing attitudes among the Europeans regarding African
slaves and the impending conflict with our Moroccan neighbors3, I believe we must find a way to

temporarily disengage ourselves from the practice of slaveholding.
My Dear Family,
Tragedy! I am enslaved! While underway to Venice to see our factor there as I was bade
do, our ship was taken by corsairs sailing out of Algiers. As we were forced onto the corsair’s
vessel, I was filled with dread at the thought of being chained in their galley4. Thank God that
was not my fate. In Algiers I was purchased by an Iberian Moor who commanded me to write to
you to seek ransom5. It is only the prospect of ransom that has kept me safe thus far. In the
morning I am to be rented out to another although I do not know who or for what labor I will be
used. Please, dearest family, send our man to Algiers to pay for my freedom as swiftly as
possible. I do not know how long my luck will hold and I long to see our home again.

Puigcerdà family 2 1664

Although the amount of Barbary activities has died down somewhat recently,
Christians here in Ibiza continue to live in fear of the Muslim corsairs. Their attacks are
often carried out with great stealth, usually taking place in the morning hours before any
of our people can gather themselves from their slumber.1 In fact, in 1664, a young
woman from the Puigcerdà family was taken in her sleep, having no opportunity to
flee from these pirates.2 The young woman would be a servant in the household of a
janissary in Algiers, luckily avoiding the fate of many young women as a concubine.3
Miraculously, through our Jewish contacts in Livorno, we were able to ransom this
young woman, and have her returned to Ibiza. Jews in Ibiza have unique ties to the
Barbary slave trade; not only through ransoming, but also through their family ties
to Jews in the Barbary states who buy and sell Christian slaves.4 A fellow Jewish salt
trader from Ibiza once spoke of a distant relative who had fled Spain, and

eventually became a notorious Barbary corsair.5 This cousin of his largely invested in
those slaves who he could make a profit on by way of ransoming.6 Indeed, the Muslim
pirate states of Barbary continue to threaten all that is Christian and just; not just by
taking captives, but also by tempting the souls of good men with the profits which can be
made through this wicked trade.
1 Robert C. Davis, Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters: White Slavery in the Mediterranean, The Barbary Coast, and Italy, 1500-1800 (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003), 37-39.
2 Eric Chaney, “Measuring the Military Decline of the Western Islamic World: Evidence from Barbary Ransoms,” Harvard University, March 20, 2015, pg.7,, 2016.
3 Davis, 71.
4 “Jewish views on slavery,” (24 February 2016) Wikipedia,, accessed 8 March 2016.
5 “Sinan Reis,” (10 November 2015) Wikipedia, March 2016.
6 Davis, 70.

Family ben David 2, 1665

3rd May, 1665.
On our trip to Algiers while trading spices we came across several slaves in the local
market. The wretched men were going to be sold to the galleys. Many of their Muslim masters
had little use for them other than the terrible labors they would endure at sea. Our business in
Algiers was to merely establish better trade relations with the city’s rulers. We only stopped by
the market as a curiosity. As we too are Ottoman subjects, there was little concern for our own
safety or that we ourselves would be sold into bondage. Our guide had several slaves and even
stopped to purchase another in hopes of finding a Christian with a hidden talent or skill. Many of
these slaves had to have been of value in their own countries, or so our guide believed. He spent
a large amount of time interrogating his new purchase when we finally stopped for the night.1
Such is the conditions of this city in Barbary. I will be glad to return to Alexandria at weeks end.
10 May, 1665.
On our return voyage from Algiers, we were boarded by Barbary corsairs. We believed
that we would be safe from persecution, but they insisted that we were harboring Christian
freight. Our cousin Aaron was taken by the pirates on account of his “Christian appearance.” We
protested this, but we were unarmed and not able to resist. Several months had passed before we
heard from Aaron. On account of his connections to our family we have arranged a ransom to
have him returned, however, his Muslim masters have set him up with a tavern and have him

paying his debt. His experience in Alexandria has helped him to secure livable conditions until
he can be returned. God be praised when he will bring Aaron back to our family and our city.
God curses those men who enslaved him; one of their own citizens of the same flag.

1 Robert C. Davis, Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters: White Slavery in the Mediterranean, the Barbary Coast, and Italy, 1500-1800, (Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003), 93-95.
4. 5.
6. Many of the links listed above are from my own research. However, the vast majority of this post comes from information located in Christian Slaves, Muslim masters.