The Barbary Pirates

Rumors held that as many as sixty Barbary men-of-war were actively prowling the English Channel, waiting for the opportunity to capture more product for the slave markets of Algiers and Tripoli. For most of the seventeenth century, an English or Irish family living near the coast confronted the real possibility that the might be hauled off without warning….[the] numbers suggest that the odds of sudden enslavement by Barbary pirates were far higher for the average Devonshire resident than the odds of experiencing a terrorist attack in a modern-day Western City.

From Steven Johnson’s excellent Enemy of All Mankind, about which I will say more later.

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