Here’s one for those people who think slavery is all about white people enslaving black people:
For over 300 years, the coastlines of the south west of England were at the mercy of Barbary pirates (corsairs) from the coast of North Africa, based mainly in the ports of Algiers, Tunis and Tripoli. Their number included not only North Africans but also English and Dutch privateers. Their aim was to capture slaves for the Arab slave markets in North Africa.
The Barbary pirates attacked and plundered not only those countries bordering the Mediterranean but as far north as the English Channel, Ireland, Scotland and Iceland, with the western coast of England almost being raided at will.
Partly as a result of an inadequate naval deterrent, by the early 17th century the situation was so bad that an entry in the Calendar of State Papers in May 1625 stated, ‘The Turks are upon our coasts. They take ships only to take the men to make slaves of them.’
The slave-traders were so brazen that they even landed on English soil to steal people:
Barbary pirates raided on land as well as at sea. In August 1625 corsairs raided Mount’s Bay, Cornwall, capturing 60 men, women and children and taking them into slavery. In 1626 St Keverne was repeatedly attacked, and boats out of Looe, Penzance, Mousehole and other Cornish ports were boarded, their crews taken captive and the empty ships left to drift. It was feared that there were around 60 Barbary men-of-war prowling the Devon and Cornish coasts and attacks were now occurring almost daily
How many had they captured?
The situation was so bad that in December 1640 a Committee for Algiers was set up by Parliament to oversee the ransoming of captives. At that time it was reported that there were some 3,000 to 5,000 English people in captivity in Algiers. Charities were also set up to help ransom the captives and local fishing communities clubbed together to raise money to liberate their own.
I look forward to the African intelligentsia wringing their hands for decades over their shameful past of their continent, and considering how best to apologise.