Piracy and Law in the Ottoman Mediterranean

Episode 333

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Pirates are usually imagined as outlaws. But as the history of the early modern Mediterranean demonstrates, the line between illegal raiding and legitimate maritime violence was blurry, easily crossed, and often a moving target. In this episode, we talk to Joshua White about his book Piracy and Law in the Ottoman Mediterranean. We consider how piracy shaped legal institutions and thought in the Ottoman world, and we get a glimpse of the fascinating and liminal world of pirates, jurists, and officials in the Ottoman Mediterranean.

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Contributor Bios

Joshua M. White is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Virginia. He is the author of Piracy and Law in the Ottoman Mediterranean (Stanford University Press, 2017).
Chris Gratien is Assistant Professor of History at University of Virginia, where he teaches classes on global environmental history and the Middle East. He is currently preparing a monograph about the environmental history of the Cilicia region of the former Ottoman Empire from the 1850s until the 1950s.
Susanna Ferguson is a Ph.D. Candidate in Middle Eastern History at Columbia University. She is currently working on a dissertation entitled "Tracing Tarbiya: Women, Gender and Childrearing in Egypt and Lebanon, 1865-1939.
Taylor M. Moore is a PhD Candidate in Modern Middle Eastern History at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. She is interested in the interconnected histories of medicine, magic, and ethnographic museums in late nineteenth and early twentieth century Egypt.

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Episode No. 333
Release Date: 16 September 2017
Recording Location: Burgazada, Turkey
Audio editing by Chris Gratien, Matthew Ghazarian, Susanna Ferguson, Ella Fratantuono, and Taylor Moore
Music: Harmandali - Recep Efendi, Cemal Efendi; Katibim (Uskudar'a Gider iken) - Safiye Ayla; Baglamamin Dugumu - Necmiye Ararat and Muzaffer; from Excavated Shellac - Lili Labassi - Mazal Haye Mazal
Special thanks to Kara Günes for permission to use the composition "Istanbul"
Images and bibliography courtesy of Joshua White


Late eighteenth-century fresco from the Fazil Bey mansion in Candia (present-day Heraklion), Crete, on display at the Historical Museum of Crete, Heraklion.
Mühimme dealing with the aftermath of the 1574 Naxos raid. Source: BOA Mühimme Zeyli Defter 2
Hüccet of a "kadı of Malta". Source: BnF MS Turc 37

Select Bibliography

Piracy and Law in the Ottoman
by Joshua M. White
Stanford University Press, 2017
Benton, Lauren. “Legal Spaces of Empire: Piracy and the Origins of Ocean Regionalism.” Comparative Studies in Society and History 47, no. 4 (2005): 700–724.

Bostan, İdris. Adriyatik’te Korsanlık: Osmanlılar, Uskoklar, Venedikliler, 1575–1620. Istanbul: Timaş, 2009.

Braudel, Fernand. The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II. Translated by Sian Reynolds. 2 vols. New York: Harper, 1972.

Brummett, Palmira. Ottoman Seapower and Levantine Diplomacy in the Age of Discovery. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1994.

Fodor, Pál. “Piracy, Ransom Slavery and Trade: French Participation in the Liberation of Ottoman Slaves from Malta during the 1620s.” Turcica 33 (2001): 119–134.

Fusaro, Maria, Colin Heywood, and Mohamed-Salah Omri, eds. Trade and Cultural Exchange in the Early Modern Mediterranean: Braudel’s Maritime Legacy. London: I. B. Tauris, 2010.

Ginio, Eyal. “Piracy and Redemption in the Aegean Sea during the First Half of the Eighteenth Century.” Turcica 33 (2001): 135–147.

Graf, Tobias, Christian Roth, Gülay Tulasoğlu, and Pascal Firges, eds. Well-Connected Domains. Leiden: Brill, 2014

Greene, Molly. Catholic Pirates and Greek Merchants: A Maritime History of the Mediterranean. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2010.

Gürkan, Emrah Safa. “The Centre and the Frontier: Ottoman Cooperation with the North African Corsairs in the Sixteenth Century.” Turkish Historical Review 1, no. 2 (2010): 125–163.

Heyd, Uriel. “Some Aspects of the Ottoman Fetvā.” Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 32, no. 1 (1969): 35–56.

Heywood, Colin. “Ottoman Territoriality versus Maritime Usage.” In Insularités Ottomanes, edited by Nicolas Vatin and Gilles Veinstein, 145–173. Paris: Maisonneuve & Larose, 2004.

Imber, Colin. Ebuʼs-suʻud: The Islamic Legal Tradition. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1997.

Sobers-Khan, Nur. Slaves without Shackles: Forced Labour and Manumission in the Galata Court Registers, 1560–1572. Berlin: Klaus Schwarz Verlag, 2014.

Talbot, Michael. “Protecting the Mediterranean: Ottoman Responses to Maritime Violence, 1718–1770.” Journal of Early Modern History 21, no. 4 (2017): 283–317.

Theunissen, Hans. “Ottoman-Venetian Diplomatics: The Ahd-names. The Historical Background and the Development of a Category of Political-Commercial Instruments Together with an Annotated Edition of a Corpus of Relevant Documents.” Electronic Journal of Oriental Studies 1, no. 2 (1998): 1–698.

van den Boogert, Maurits H. “Redress for Ottoman Victims of European Privateering: A Case against the Dutch in the Divan-ı Hümayun (1708–1715).” Turcica 33 (2001): 91–118.

Vatin, Nicolas. “Une affaire interne: Le sort et la libération des personnes de condition libre illégalement retenues en esclavage sur le territoire ottoman (XVIe siècle).” Turcica 33 (2001): 149–190.

Weiss, Gillian. Captives and Corsairs: France and Slavery in the Early Modern Mediterranean. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2011.

White, Joshua M. Piracy and Law in the Ottoman Mediterranean. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2017.

Zachariadou, Elizabeth, ed. The Kapudan Pasha: His Office and His Domain: Halcyon Days in Crete IV, a Symposium Held in Rethymnon, 7–9 January 2000. Rethymnon: University of Crete Press, 2002.


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