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, http://scholar.harvard.edu/files/chaney/files/militarydeclinefinal.pdf?m=1427719537, 2016.
3 Davis, 71.
4 “Jewish views on slavery,” (24 February 2016) Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_views_on_slavery#Mediterranean_slave_trade, accessed 8 March 2016.
5 “Sinan Reis,” (10 November 2015) Wikipedia, March 2016.
6 Davis, 70.