Family Puigcérda and the Knights of Malta

The Puigcerdà family’s trading connections with the Greek Vergis family has
again seen complications, and unfortunately loss of profits due to the corsairs of Malta.1  In 1718, a ship with members of our family and the Vergis merchant family was taken by the Maltese near the island of Tinos in the Aegean. Our Greek friends again tried to explain that they were fellow Christians to the Maltese, but to no avail.2  With the war between the Venetians and Ottomans not yet finished, the Vergis family also claimed that Tinos still belonged to the Venetians. However, the Tribunale degli Armamenti took the opposite view, claiming that the island in fact belonged to the Ottomans. Furthermore, the Tribunale claimed that ships engaging in any sort of trade with the Turks were legitimate targets.3  Thus, the Tribunale would ultimately rule in favor of their corsairs, and our cargo would be lost. This incident has inflicted quite a financial blow on both our family and the Vergis merchants.
1 Molly Greene, Catholic Pirates and Greek Merchants: A Maritime History of the Mediterranean (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2010), 38.
2 Greene, 190.
3 Greene, 192.

The Puigcerdà Family and the Greek Mediterranean

The Puigcerdà family has been trading salt to the eastern Mediterranean since the
sixteenth century through our Jewish connections in Livorno, as well as to the Venetians through the Greek Vergis family from Corfu.1 Indeed, these trade connections have proved quite profitable for our family; and in the case of our Greek partners, have led a number of individuals from our family to travel with the Vergis merchant family to the east. However, the raiding and taking of ships on the sea has caused some complications in recent years. For example, in 1600, while traveling with members of the Vergis family on the Ionian Sea, a young man from the Puigcerdà family became entangled in legal disputes when the Knights of Malta seized the ship he was aboard. Despite the fact that both the Vergis family and the Puigcerdà man pleaded for fair treatment because of their Christian faith and connections to the Venetians, the Maltese claimed that there was no indicator that the ship belonged to Venice. Thankfully, being subjects of Venice, the Vergis family was able to get the republic to impose a sequestro on the Maltese; ultimately forcing them to compensate the Vergis family for their losses.2 If it was not for the Vergis family’s claims to Venice, the Puigcerdà family too may have lost a great deal of profit from this ordeal with the Maltese
1 Molly Greene, Catholic Pirates and Greek Merchants: A Maritime History of the Mediterranean (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2010), 38.
2 Greene, 65-66.


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.

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.

Puigcerdà Family 2, c. 1600

Since 1600, The Puigcerdà family has continued to be heavily active in the salt trade.
Our Jewish friends have provided us links to a new market in Livorno; although much of
the salt we provide is brought into the city by way of smuggling.1  Salt merchants in Ibiza
have also been able to tap into Venetian markets as well.2  Our Jewish friends and their
connections have become crucial to Venetian commerce because of their access to special
trading privileges, especially in the lands of the Turks in the Levant.3  Indeed, Ibicenco salt
continues to be a valuable trade good, traveling vast distances to foreign lands. However, this
commerce abroad by itself has by no means guaranteed peace and prosperity at home on the
island. Ibiza and surrounding islands are constantly vulnerable to raids by the Barbary
pirates. Look out towers have been constructed along the shore of the island, and the
peasants are often forced to take refuge within our churches when the attacks transpire.
Luckily, our Corsarios do their best to keep the pirates at bay, plundering them at every
1 Francesca Trivellato, “The Sephardic Diaspora and Cross-Cultural Trade in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries,” Cal Tech, April 5, 2008, pg. 26,, accessed 25 February 2016.
2 Molly Greene, “Merchant of Venice, Merchant of Istanbul,” Princeton University, February 2, 2007, pg. 13,, accessed 26 February 2016.
3 Eric R. Dursteler, Venetians in Constantinople: Nation, Identity, and Coexistence in the Early Modern Mediterranean (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006), 108.
opportunity. Interestingly, the work of our Corsarios provides a great deal of expensive
goods to the island, and generally benefits Ibiza economically speaking.4
4 Sue Bryant, Ibiza and Formentera (UK: New Holland Publishers, 2007),, accessed 25 February 2016, pgs. 12-13.

Family Puigcérda 2, 1450-1500

We the Puigcerdà family have become quite well known throughout Ibiza Townas merchants in the salt trade, as well as capable privateers on the sea. Salt has become astaple trade good of Ibiza, although we merchants are largely under the management ofthe great Genoese in this part of the Mediterranean.1  Since roughly 1450, the Genoesehave reaped the rewards from our salt, which they exchange for Lombardy steel and wheat.2  The Basques have also become partnered with the Genoese in order to exploit the profits which the salt of Ibiza brings.3  Being under the thumb of these foreign merchantsm has meant that the Puigcerdà family has had to resort to privateering on the seas merely to supplement what little we actually came away with by participating in the exchange of salt.  However, to say our family has plundered those on the sea indiscriminately would be a false charge indeed.  For example, Jews have long been prominent members within Ibiza and its salt trade, acting as tax collectors, shippers, and even merchants.  Thus, it is often a popular practice by us privateers to give Jews a pass, and even help them steer clear of the Inquisition.  In fact, the Puigcerdà family itself helped five young Jewish men to safety on one occasion.So, with these closing words, I urge future generations to continue to strive for wealth, the good of the community, and respect for the Puigcerdà family name.


1 Michel Balard, “A Christian Mediterranean: 10001500,” in The Mediterranean in History, ed. David Abulafia (London: Thames & Hudson, 2003), 211-212.

2 Bernard Moinier, “The Role of Salt in Civilization,Science Tribune, October 1996,, accessed 2 February 2016.
3 Marvin Lunenfeld, “Columbus and Spain: Accident or Destiny?,” Weber State University, Fall 1992,, accessed 2 February 2016.

4  Gloria Mound, “Survivors of the Spanish Exile: The Underground Jews of Ibiza,” Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, February 10, 1988,, accessed 2 February 2016.

Family Puigcérda 1657

Entry by Manuel Puigcérda

Today I was scouring over old family records in my spare time and came across a very interesting note. It was a dispute over one of my ancestors trading partners, a certain Greek merchant named Zykanthos Marmaretos. While transporting a load of salt and wine to Tunis his ship was attacked by Knights of St John from the island of Malta. The ship he was on was flying the flag of Saint Andrew’s Cross, and was boarded for suspecting trade with the Turks. Since he was working with the Turks in a trade deal his goods were taken and he was imprisoned on their ship. He suspected the Captain to possibly be doing a deal with the corsairs, because they did not pay him (nor did he request, as was his right) a sequestro[1] nor did the captain inquire about a compensation for the goods taken by the fancily-named pirates. According to this note our friend was taken to court at his request on the island of Malta. The details of his trial are unknown to us, but he was not released and this loss of a good merchant partner as well as a large chunk of our investment gone upset my great great great grandfather deeply. According to our families financial records the arrest and confiscation of our goods set us back significantly, which my great great great grandfather was never able to recover from. Perhaps it was this inability to rebound is part of the reason why there is no mention of him trying to seek restitution from the church or the local governor.

[1] Molly Greene, Catholic Pirates and Greek Merchants (Princeton NJ:Princeton University Press 2010), 61.