Pirates have chosen the Mediterranean Sea since time immemorial. Even Dionysius once became their captive, according to ancient Greek myths: turning into a lion, he then tore apart his captors (with the exception of the helmsman, who recognized him as a god). According to another legend, the famous poet Arion was thrown overboard (but saved by a dolphin) by sea robbers, about whom Ovid would write about 700 years later: “What sea, what land of Arion does not know?” In the city of Tarente, where the poet hit the road, a coin was issued depicting a human figure sitting on a dolphin.
Coin of the city of Tarenta, 280-272 BC e.
In the XNUMXst century BC pirates of the Mediterranean Sea were so numerous and so well organized that they could land on their ships a significant part of the army of Spartacus besieged by the forces of Crassus (most likely, the leader of the rebels wanted to land troops in the rear of the enemy, and not to evacuate the army in Sicily).
Guy Julius Caesar himself was captured by the pirates, and Gnei Pompey inflicted a number of defeats on the pirates, but he did not completely eradicate this “trade”.
The northwestern coast of Africa (which Europeans often called the Barbary coast) in the Middle Ages was no exception. The main pirate bases here were Algeria, Tripoli and Tunisia.
Andries van Ertvelt. Algerian ship entering the Berber port
However, the Muslim pirates of the Maghreb are much less “untwisted” than the filibusters (corsairs operating in the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico), although their “exploits” and “achievements” are no less astounding, and in many ways they even exceeded the Caribbean “colleagues”.
Maghreb countries on a modern map
The fantastic careers of some of the Maghreb pirates, who received a significant part of the proceeds from the slave trade, cannot help but surprise us.
When talking about the slave trade, Black Africa and the famous slave ships sailing from its shores to America are immediately remembered.
Slave Ship “The Diligent” (Diligent)
However, at the same time, North Europeans, like cattle, were selling white Europeans. Modern researchers believe that from the XVI to XIX centuries. More than one million Christians were sold in the slave markets of Constantinople, Algeria, Tunisia, Tripoli, Sale and other cities. Recall that in Algerian captivity, Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra spent 5 years (from 1575 to 1580).
Catholic monks redeem Christian captives in the slave market of the Maghreb
But in addition to this million unfortunate people, hundreds of thousands of Slavs sold in the markets of Kafa by the Crimean Tatars must be added.
After the Arab conquest, Maghreb (“where the sunset is” - countries west of Egypt in the Arabic language is now called only Morocco) became a frontier where the interests of the world of Islam and the Christian world clashed. And pirate raids, attacks on merchant ships, mutual raids on coastal settlements have become commonplace. In the future, the degree of confrontation only increased.
The balance of power on the "chessboard" of the Mediterranean Sea
Piracy and the slave trade were the traditional trade of all kinds of the Barbary states of the Maghreb. But alone, of course, they could not resist the Christian states of Europe. Help came from the East - from the rapidly gaining power of the Ottoman Empire, which wanted to reign supreme over the waters of the Mediterranean Sea. Her sultans viewed the Barbarian pirates as a useful tool in a large geopolitical "game."
On the other hand, young and aggressive Castile and Aragon showed increasing interest in North Africa. These Catholic kingdoms will soon conclude a union that marked the beginning of the formation of a united Spain. This confrontation between the Spaniards and Ottomans reached its peak after the Spanish king Carlos I received the crown of the Holy Roman Empire (becoming Emperor Charles V): the forces and resources in his hands were now such that he could throw huge squadrons into battle and army. For a short time, they managed to seize the pirate ports and fortresses on the Maghreb shore, but they were no longer able to maintain their strength.
Titian. Portrait of Charles V
However, the strengthening of Charles V frightened the French: King Francis I was ready even for an alliance with the Ottomans, just to weaken the emperor he hated - and such an alliance was concluded in February 1536.
Jean clouet. Portrait of Francis I
The Venetian and Genoese republics were at enmity with the Ottomans for trade routes, which, however, did not prevent them from regularly fighting each other: the Venetians fought 8 times with the Turks, and 5 times with the Genoese.
The traditional and implacable enemy of Muslims in the Mediterranean was the Knights of the Order of the Hospitallers, who, having left Palestine, fought stubbornly at first in Cyprus (from 1291 to 1306) and Rhodes (from 1308 to 1522), and then (from 1530) entrenched in Malta. Portuguese hospitaliers fought mainly with the Moors of North Africa, the main enemies of the hospitalos of Rhodes were Mameluke Egypt and Ottoman Turkey, and during the Maltese period, the Ottomans and Pirates of the Maghreb.
Expansion of Castile, Aragon and Portugal
As early as 1291, Castile and Aragon agreed to divide the Maghreb into “zones of influence”, the boundary between which was to be the Muluya River. On the territory to the west of it (modern Morocco), Castile claimed, the lands of the modern states of Algeria and Tunisia "went" to Aragon.
The Aragonese acted persistently and purposefully: successively subjugating Sicily, Sardinia, and then the Kingdom of Naples, they received powerful bases for influencing Tunisia and Algeria. Castile was not up to Morocco - its kings completed the Reconquista and finished off the Emirate of Granada. Instead of the Castilians, the Portuguese came to Morocco, who in August 1415 captured Ceuta (then the Hospitallers acted as their allies), and in 1455-1458. - Five more Moroccan cities. At the beginning of the XNUMXth century, they founded the cities of Agadir and Mazagan on the Atlantic coast of North Africa.
In 1479, after the wedding of Isabella and Ferdinand between the kingdoms of Castile and Aragon, the union mentioned above was concluded. In 1492, Granada fell. Now, one of the main goals of the Catholic kings and their heirs was to push the border line to exclude the very possibility of a Muslim attack by the Maghreb against Spain, and to fight the Barbarian pirates, who sometimes delivered very painful attacks along the coast (these raids aimed mainly at capture of captives, Arabs called "razziy").
The first fortified city of the Spaniards in North Africa was Santa Cruz de Mar Pequeña. In 1497, the Moroccan port of Melilla was captured, in 1507 - Badis.
Pope Alexander VI in two bullas (from 1494 and 1495) called on all Christians in Europe to support the Catholic kings in their “crusade”. Contracts were concluded with the Portuguese in 1480 and 1509.
The large-scale expansion of the Ottomans into the Western Mediterranean began after Sultan Selim I Yavuz (Grozny) stood at the head of their empire and continued with his son, Suleiman Kanuni (Legislator), who became probably the most powerful ruler of this empire. In Europe, he is better known as Suleiman the Magnificent, or the Great Turk.
Selim I Yalvuz
Melchior lorck. Portrait of Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent
In 1516, Selim I launched a war against Mameluke Egypt, in 1517 Alexandria and Cairo were captured. In 1522, the new Sultan - Suleiman, decided to end the hospital of Rhodes. Mustafa Pasha (later replaced by Ahmed Pasha) was appointed commander in chief of the Ottoman ports. With him went Kurdoglu Muslim ad-Din - a very famous and reputable corsair and privateer, whose base was previously Bizerte. By this time, he had already accepted the offer to go to Turkish service and received the title “reis” (usually the Ottoman admirals were called by this word, in Arabic it means “head, head”). Some of their ships were sent by the famous Khair ad Din Barbarossa, which will be discussed later. A total of 400 ships with soldiers on board approached Rhodes.
"The siege of Rhodes by the troops of Suleiman the Magnificent." Engraving by Giovanni Vavassore
In December of that year, the desperate resistance hospitaliers were forced to surrender. On January 1, 1523, the 180 surviving members of the order, headed by the magistrate Villiers de l'Il Adam and another 4 thousand people left Rhodes. Sandjakbey of this island became Kurdoglu Reis.
Knights of Malta
But on March 24, 1530, the hospitaliers returned to the arena of the great war: Emperor Charles V of Habsburg presented them with the islands of Malta and Gozo in exchange for recognition as vassals of the Kingdom of Spain and the Two Sicilies, the duty to protect the city of Tripoli in North Africa and the annual “tribute” in the form of a hunting falcon.
Malta on a modern map of the Mediterranean Sea
Malta and Gozo
Tripoli on one of the books of the Sea of Piri Reis
The Maltese participated in the famous naval battle at Lepanto (1571), in the first half of the 18th century they won XNUMX naval victories off the coast of Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco. These knights did not disdain piracy (corsa, hence the “corsairs”), capturing other people's ships and raiding Muslim lands.
The return of the flagship galley to La Valletta harbor after a military campaign
But the opponents of Christians had their own heroes.
Great Pirates and Admirals Maghreb
At the beginning of the XNUMXth century, the stars of the two great pirate admirals of the Islamic Maghreb rose. They were brothers Aruj and Khizir, natives of the island of Lesbos, in which there was more Greek blood than Turkish or Albanian. They are both known under the nickname "Barbarossa" (red-bearded), but there is good reason to believe that only Christians called him Khizira. And his older brother was called Baba Aruj (Papa Aruj).
Aruj was the first to become famous, who, at the age of 16, volunteered for an Ottoman warship. At the age of 20, he was captured by the hospitals and was brought by them to Rhodes, but managed to escape. After that, he decided not to bind himself to the conventions of military discipline, preferring the Turks a difficult share of a free hunter, a pirate, at the Turks. Having rebelled the crew of "his" ship, Aruj became its captain. He built his base on the now well-known “tourist” island of Djerba, which the “emir of Tunisia“ leased ”to him - in exchange for 20% of the captured production (later Aruj managed to reduce the“ commission ”to 10%). In 1504, Aruj, commanding a small galliot, took turns, one after another, capturing two battle galleys of Pope Julius II, which made him the hero of the entire coast. And in 1505, he somehow somehow managed to capture a Spanish ship carrying 500 soldiers - all of them were sold in slave markets. This prompted the Spanish authorities to organize a naval expedition that managed to capture the fortress of Mers al-Kebir near Oran - but this was the end of the Spaniards. Only in 1509, the Spaniards managed to capture Oran, and then, in 1510, the port of Bugia and Tripoli, but were defeated on the island of Djerba. It was during an attempt to liberate Bugia, in 1514, that Aruj lost his hand, but some skilled craftsman made a silver prosthesis for him, in which there were many moving parts, and Aruj continued to bother opponents with endless raids. Next to him were his brothers - Ishaq, who would die in battle in 1515, and Khizir, whose loud fame was yet to come.
In 1516, Aruj came to the aid of the ruler of Mauritania, Sheikh Selim al-Tumi: it was necessary to capture the Penon fortress built by the Spaniards. It was not possible to take it then - the task was only possible for his younger brother Khayr ad-Din. But Aruj decided that he himself would be a good emir. He drowned an excessively gullible ally in the pool, then - he executed those who expressed indignation on this occasion - only 22 people. Proclaiming himself Emir of Algeria, Aruj prudently recognized the power of the Ottoman Sultan Selim I.
After that, on September 30, 1516, he, fakingly retreating, defeated the significant Spanish corps under the command of Diego de Vera - the Spaniards lost three thousand soldiers killed and wounded, about 400 people were captured.
In 1517, Aruge intervened in the internecine war that swept Tlemcen. Having defeated the army of the main contender, Muley bin Hamid, he proclaimed the sultan of Mulay-bu-Zain, but after a few days he hung both himself and his seven children on their own turbaned jackets. In May 1518, when the Spaniards supported by Mulei ben Hamid approached Tlemcen, an uprising broke out in the city. Aruj fled to Algeria, but his squad was overtaken by the Salado River. Aruj himself has already crossed to the other side, but returned to his associates and died with them in an unequal battle. His head, as a valuable trophy, was sent to Spain.
In the XX century, in Turkey, the name of this pirate was called the class of submarines - "Aruj Rais".
Turkish submarine TCG Oruç Reis, 1942
The Spaniards did not rejoice for long, because Aruj's younger brother, Khizir (often called Khair ad-Din) was alive and well. By the way, his friend was Kurdoglu-reis already mentioned by us, who even named one of his sons in honor of him - gave him the name Khizir.
Hyr ad Din Barbarossa
Hyr ad Din Barbarossa
Brother Arujah immediately proclaimed himself vassal of Turkey as the Sultan of Algeria, and Selim I recognized him as such, appointed him a baler, but, just in case, he sent two thousand Janissaries - both to help in battles with the “infidels” and to control: so that this young Yes, the early corsair and, in fact, did not feel too independent.
In 1518, a storm helped Barbarossa defend Algeria from the Spanish squadron under the command of the Viceroy of Sicily Hugo de Moncada: after 26 enemy ships sank (on board of which about 4 soldiers and sailors were killed), he attacked the remains of the Spanish fleetalmost completely destroying it. After this, Hyr ad-Din not only conquered Tlemcen, but also occupied a number of other cities on the coast of North Africa. It was under Barbarossa in Algeria that shipyards and foundries appeared, and up to 7 Christian slaves took part in the work to strengthen it.
The confidence of the Sultan Barbarossa fully justified. In fact, he was not just a pirate, but the admiral of the “privatirsky” (“privateer”) fleet, acting in the interests of the Ottoman Empire. Dozens of ships took part in sea voyages under his command (only in his “personal fleet” the number of ships reached 36): these were no longer raids, but serious military operations. Khizir-Khayr al-Din soon surpassed his older brother. In his submission there were such authoritative captains as Turgut (in some sources - Dragut, he will be described in the next article), a certain Sinan, nicknamed "Jew from Smyrna" (in order to "persuade" the governor of Elba to release him from captivity, Barbarossa in 1544 year ravaged the whole island) and Aydin-reis, which had the eloquent nickname "The Devil's Scourge" (Kaha Diabolo ").
In 1529, Aydin Reis and a certain Salih led a squadron of 14 galliotes: having plundered Mallorca and attacked the coast of Spain, on the way back they boarded 7 of the 8 Genoese galleys of Admiral Portunado. And at the same time, several dozen wealthy Mariskans who “wanted to get rid of the power of the Spanish kings” “evacuated” to Algeria.
In the same year, Barbarossa was finally able to capture the Spanish fortress on the island of Peñon, locking the harbor of Algeria, and 2 weeks after its fall - to defeat the approaching Spanish squadron in which there were many transport ships with supplies, about 2 sailors and soldiers were captured. After that, for 500 years, Christian slaves built a grandiose protective stone pier that connected this island to the mainland: now Algeria has become a full-fledged base of the Maghreb pirate squadrons (before that they had to drag their ships into Algerian harbor).
In 1530, Barbarossa once again surprised everyone: having plundered the coast of Sicily, Sardinia, Provence and Liguria, he stayed for the winter in the captured castle of Cabrera on one of the Balearic Islands.
Balearic Islands on the map of the Mediterranean Sea
Returning to Algeria, the following year he defeated the Maltese squadron and devastated the shores of Spain, Calabria and Puglia.
In 1533, Barbarossa, at the head of a squadron of 60 ships, sacked the Calabrian cities of Reggio and Fondi.
In August 1534, the Khayr ad-Din squadron, supported by the Janissaries, captured Tunisia. This also threatened the Sicilian possessions of Charles V, who instructed the Genoese admiral Andrea Doria who entered the service of the empire in 1528 to drive out the invaders. Doria already had a good time fighting the Turks: in 1532 he captured Patras and Lepanto, in 1533 he defeated the Turkish fleet at Coron, but he had not yet met with Barbarossa in battle.
This grand expedition was financed by funds received from Francisco Pizarro, who had conquered Peru. And Pope Paul III forced Francis I to promise to abstain from the war with the Habsburgs.
The forces were clearly unequal and in June 1535 Barbarossa was forced to flee from Tunisia to Algeria. The new ruler of Tunisia, Mulei Hassan, recognized himself as a vassal of Charles V and promised to pay tribute.
Barbarossa responded with an attack on the island of Minorca, where the Portuguese galleon returning from America was captured and 6 people were captured: he gave these slaves to Sultan Suleiman, who, in response, appointed Khair ad-Din the commander of the empire fleet and the “emir of emirs” of Africa .
In 1535, King of Spain Carlos I (aka Holy Roman Emperor Charles V) sent a fleet against Barbarossa under the command of the Genoese admiral Andrea Doria.
Andrea Doria, portrait, Austrian National Library
The Italian battleship Andrea Doria, launched in March 1913, was part of the Italian fleet until 1956.
Andrea Doria managed to win several battles, near the island of Paxos, he defeated the squadron of Governor Gallipoli, capturing 12 galleys. In this battle, he was wounded in the leg, while Barbarossa, acting as an ally of France, seized the port of Bizerte in Tunisia: this Turkish naval base now threatened the security of Venice and Naples. Many of the islands of the Ionian and Aegean seas that belonged to the Venetian Republic also fell under the blows of the “emir of emirs”. Only Corfu managed to resist.
And on September 28, 1538, Khair ad Din Barbarossa, having at his disposal 122 ships, attacked the Holy League fleet assembled by Pope Paul III (156 warships - 36 papal, 61 Genoese, 50 Portuguese and 10 Maltese) and defeated him: sunk 3, burned 10 and captured 36 enemy ships. About 3 thousand European soldiers and sailors were captured. Thanks to this victory, Barbarossa for three whole years actually became the master of the Mediterranean Sea.
Umed Behzad. "The Battle of Preveza." Maritime Museum, Istanbul
In 1540, Venice withdrew from the war, giving the Ottoman Empire the islands of the Ionian and Aegean Seas, Morea and Dalmatia, as well as paying a contribution of 300 thousand gold ducats.
Only in 1541 did Emperor Karl manage to assemble a new fleet of 500 ships, which he entrusted to the Duke of Alba. Along with the duke were Admiral Doria and the notorious Hernan Cortes, Marquis del Valle Oaxaca, who returned to Mexico from Mexico just a year ago.
On October 23, as soon as the troops had landed near Algeria, “such a storm arose that it was not only impossible to unload the guns, but many small vessels just turned over, thirteen to fourteen galleons too” (Cardinal Talavera).
This storm did not abate for 4 days, the losses were terrifying, more than 150 ships sank, and 12 thousand soldiers and sailors died. Depressed and discouraged Spaniards no longer thought about the battle in Algeria. On the remaining ships, they went to sea, and only at the end of November the battered squadron with difficulty made it to Majorca.
In the fight against the Ottomans and the Barbarian pirates, the European monarchs did not show unanimity. There are cases when the Turks freely hired the ships of the Italian states to transport their troops. For example, Sultan Murad I paid the Genoese one ducat for each person transported.
And King Francis I literally shocked the whole Christian world, not only entering into an alliance with the Ottomans, but also allowing Khayr ad-Din Barbarossa to place his fleet for wintering in Toulon in 1543.
Barbarossa Fleet in Toulon. XNUMXth Century Engraving
At that time, the local population was evicted from the city (with the exception of a certain number of men left to protect the abandoned property and to service the crews of pirate ships). Even the city cathedral was then transformed into a mosque. On the part of the French, this was an act of gratitude for the help in capturing Nice.
A special piquancy to this alliance with the Ottomans was given by the fact that before that Francis was an ally of Pope Clement VII, and the “king” of France and the Roman pontiff against Charles V, whom many in Europe considered the stronghold of the Christian world in the confrontation with the “Mohammedans”. And who, as emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, was crowned by Clement VII himself.
Having wintered in hospitable Toulon, Khair ad Din Barbarossa in 1544 brought down his squadron on the coast of Calabria, reaching Naples. About 20 thousand Italians were captured, but the admiral overdid it a bit: as a result of his raid, the prices of slaves in the Maghreb fell so low that they could not be sold profitably.
This is how Barbarossa was seen by the audience of the series “The Magnificent Century”
This was the last maritime operation of the illustrious pirate and admiral. The last years of his life, Khair ad Din Barbarossa spent in his own palace in Constantinople, built on the shores of the Golden Horn. The German historian Johann Arkhengolts claims that a certain Jewish doctor advised the old admiral to treat his ailments with the "warmth of the bodies of young virgins." Apparently, this aesculapius learned about this method of treatment from the Third Book of the Kings of the Old Testament, which tells how the young girl Avisaga was found to 70-year-old King David, who "warmed him in bed." The method was, of course, very pleasant, but also very dangerous for the aged admiral. And the "therapeutic dose" was clearly exceeded. According to contemporaries, Khair ad Din Barbarossa quickly became decrepit, unable to withstand the pressure of the numerous bodies of young girls, and died in 1546 (at the age of 80). He was buried in the mausoleum mosque built at his expense and the captains of the Turkish ships entering the port of Constantinople, sailing past her, for a long time considered it their duty to give fireworks in honor of the illustrious admiral. And at the beginning of the 1910th century, a squadron battleship purchased from Germany in XNUMX (formerly Elector Frederick William) was named after him.
Squadron battleship "Elector Friedrich Wilhelm", 1902
The second battleship bought by the Turks from Germany at that time (Weissenburg) was named after Turgut Reis, a comrade-in-arms of Barbarossa, who at various times was the governor of the island of Djerba, the commander-in-chief of the Ottoman fleet, the Bayler of Algeria and the Mediterranean Sea, sanjakbei and Pasha Tripoli
Torgud Reis Squadron Armadillo
We will talk about this lucky pirate, who became the Kapudan Pasha of the Ottoman fleet, and other great Islamic admirals in the next article.