Skip to main content



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

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Corsairs." Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East and North Africa. . 20 Mar. 2018 <>.

"Corsairs." Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East and North Africa. . (March 20, 2018).

"Corsairs." Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East and North Africa. . Retrieved March 20, 2018 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.