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Corsairs

CORSAIRS

naval freebooters (often mistakenly called pirates) of many nations.

The corsairs sailed under the colors of the so-called Barbary states of North Africa from the early sixteenth century until the European naval powers suppressed their activity after the end of the Napoleonic wars. The North African corsairs attacked commercial ships sailing the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea of those Christian powers that did not have treaty relations with their political masters, seized the vessels, cargoes, and crews, and sold them in their home portsAlgiers, Tunis, Tripoli, Rabat-Salé, and other smaller coastal towns. In Algiers, and to a lesser extent in Tunis and Tripoli, the corsairs came to control the (nominally) Ottoman Empire's political systems in the latter part of the sixteenth century, while in Morocco the Alawi (of the Alawite dynasty) sultans used them as a tool of their foreign policy after their rise to power in the 1660s. The corsairs were chief participants in the Barbary wars that ended in 1821.

see also alawite dynasty; barbary states; barbary wars.

Jerome Bookin-Weiner

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