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.

Ben David Family 2, c. 1600

Spencer Black 23 Feb. 2016 Blog Post 2
To whom it may concern,
The Ben David family has seen its share of history.1 We have witnessed the fall of our
government to the Turkic conquerors, and even the receding of the once great city of Venice.
With the constant changes we have witnessed as come the unease associated with it. The Turks
have impressed upon us their share of miseries, but have thus far been very good for our business
and have brought many exotic goods into our city. Their empire is vast and far reaching. They
have access to many Eastern goods. Their competition with Venice has also been beneficial to
our coffers.2 Venice can no longer monopolize in the spice trade in Cairo since the Turks have
taken over.3 Many of the Venetians from here have left for friendly shores such as the capital on
the Bosphorus.
The Turks at least ensure security within their communities. While we pay to practice our
religion, it allows us to trade without fear of reprisal as some of our brothers to the West have
encountered, however, we must still remain cautious. We have seen many people come through
the port in recent time; this must be due to stability returning to the region. One thing that can be
said of the Turks is that they protect their land. With their empire growing they have helped
ensure that legal issues and trade issues have become one and the same. I believe that we will be
safer under their rule and they will treat us fairer than the Venetian merchants had.4 The
Venetians were fair if you could benefit them; however, Cairo is now out of their reach.5

Grimaldi Family 2, 1600

Our coffers are full and the lenders are pleased with the results of trade, but there is some
troubling news from our merchants in Constantinople.1  Our century’s long rivalry with Venice
over Galata has come to an end, seemingly for a final time.2  There are few of us left in this port
and the legacy we have developed since the Byzantine influence has been destroyed completely.
One by one, we see our buildings being taken over and even our greatest achievement in Galata,
the tower overlooking every point of the great city, has left our hands and there is no hope for a
Genoese recovery at the Golden Horn.3  We Grimaldi have been one of the greatest families to
step foot onto the shores of Constantinople, yet there are but a few Genovese left in the city.  The
Latin-Rite community that we claim is being persecuted and our people have been driven out by
the Turks and have left us no choice but to draw out of Galata and take our trade to another city
that is more welcoming of our presence.
The Magnifica Comunità meets still, but our people struggle with daily existence and we
see no reason to stay in this empire.4  Even the Magnifica sees no reason to keep our council well in the city and they have replaced our podesta with their own council of twelve.5 We will let the Muslims have their control and we will not interfere any longer. With Constantinople overrun by heathens, we cannot, as good Catholics, see cause to remain.6 While we regret not being able to move freely between the Mediterranean and Black Seas, the spiritual health of our people is more important.
5 Eric Dursteler, Venetians in Constantinople: Nation, Identity, and Coexistence in the Early Modern Mediterranean (Johns Hopkins University Press: Johns Hopkins, 2006): 142.

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.