Friday, 20 November 2015

Military History Photo Friday: Fighting the Barbary Pirates

This lovely naval painting was made c. 1615 by the Dutch painter Aert Anthonisz. It shows a French ship battling two galleys of the infamous Barbary pirates. These pirates harassed shipping along the coast of North Africa starting as far back as the 9th century. Their heyday was in the 15th-19th centuries, and various European powers such as France, Spain, and Portugal used these attacks as an excuse to colonize North Africa.

The Barbary Pirates earned a bad reputation for attacking ships and selling the crews and passengers into slavery. Of course, European pirates were doing the same thing, but since the African pirates were enslaving Europeans, they were considered beyond the pale. At least by the Europeans.

There were numerous battles against the pirates, but their activity didn't die down until a general decline of piracy in the Atlantic and Mediterranean in the late 19th century. By then, the great powers had sizable navies and the seas were better patrolled.

On the Atlantic coast of Morocco, however, one pirate continued until well into the 20th century. I've written more about that in my post for Black Gate this week.

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Nice painting.
So, capturing Europeans was unacceptable?

Sean McLachlan said...

It sure was to the Europeans!

Looking for more from Sean McLachlan? He also hangs out on the Civil War Horror blog, where he focuses on Civil War and Wild West history.

You can also find him on his Twitter feed and Facebook page.