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King George III (1760-1820)
The Bombardment of Algiers : For two centuries, human traffickers had stolen English men, women and children for the slave-markets of the Arab world.
The Bombardment of Algiers

Based on Barbary Pirates and English Slaves (at Historic UK) and Samuel Pepys’s Diary.

In the Barbary states of Tunis, Algiers and Tripoli in north Africa, part of the Ottoman Empire, slavery was the norm, and – much as the comforting breadth of the Atlantic did for English slave-owners – the use of European Christians rather than their own brethren allowed Muslims to ease their conscience.

WITHIN fifty years of victory over the Spanish Armada in 1588, England’s navy was so neglected that Arab pirates from the Barbary coast were raiding Cornish villages and commandeering fishing-boats with impunity, abducting hundreds of men, women and children for slave-labour in docks and on farms, down mines and in homes across the Ottoman Empire.

Public charities raised ransom money and in 1646, Parliament engaged Edmund Cason to redeem some two hundred and fifty, but Algiers alone had over ten times the number.

Fifteen years on, the squalid slave-compounds, bread-and-water diets and angry beatings described to an open-mouthed Samuel Pepys by two former captives were still a depressing reality.

Mediterranean politics made direct action against the Barbary states ticklish, but Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo allowed Edward Pellew to take British and Dutch ships to Algiers and, on August 27th, 1816 — after an outrageous bluff, since he had run out of ammunition — compel the wrathful Ottomans to let thousands of European slaves go.

Based on Barbary Pirates and English Slaves (at Historic UK) and Samuel Pepys’s Diary.

More like this

Modern History (138) Abolition of Slavery (14) Barbary Pirates (1) Georgian Era (111) History (405)

Picture: From Wikimedia Commons. View original
The Bombardment of Algiers on 27th August 1816, painted by George Chambers in 1836. The English commander, Edward Pellew, had run out of ammunition but the authorities in Algiers did not know that, and they surrendered thousands of European slaves for liberation.

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