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Tripoli in the late Seventeenth Century: The Economics of corsairing in a ‘Sterill Country’

  • C. R. Pennell (a1)

The economic poverty of Tripoli in the Seventeenth century was such that the piratical activities of its corsair fleet were of major importance to both the town and the Ottoman regime. An unpublished journal written by Thomas Baker (British Consul between 1679–1685) contains detailed information about the arrival and departure of both merchant ships and corsairs and about the value of prizes taken by the pirates and brought to Tripoli. These data are of great value in demonstrating the impact of the corsairs on the political and economic relationships of Tripoli with the European powers. If the corsairing was too successful, Tripoli was liable to be attacked by these powers. But on the other hand, when the authorities were constrained by treaties with the Europeans to limit the activities of the corsairs, the resulting economic hardship threatened the internal stability of the regime.

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Baker, T. 1677. A Journall or Memoriall of whatsoever Ocurrence shall happen or bee noteworthy Begunn at London the day and yeare in the Margent mentioned. That is to say … 1677 2th May. Manuscript in the Bodleian Library, Oxford.
Baker, /Jenkins, a = Letter from Baker to Jenkins, Tripoly, 10 January 1681/1682. SP71-22(ii): 2829.
Baker, /Jenkins, b = Letter from Baker to Jenkins, Tripoly, 10 June 1682. SP71-22(ii): 3334.
Baker, /Jenkins, c = Letter from Baker to Jenkins, Tripoly, 30 November 1682. SP71-22(ii): 4142.
Baker, /[Jenkins, ] = Letter from Baker to [Jenkins], Tripoly, 1681. SP71-22(ii): 2627.
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Teonge, H. 1928. The Diary of Henry Teonge, Chaplain on board H.M.'s Ships Assistance, Bristol and Royal Oak 1675–1679. (Transcr. and ed. by Manwaring, G. E.), London.
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Libyan Studies
  • ISSN: 0263-7189
  • EISSN: 2052-6148
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