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.

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