Joshua M. White

Piracy and Law in the Ottoman Mediterranean

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The 1570s marked the beginning of an age of pervasive piracy in the Mediterranean that persisted into the eighteenth century. Nowhere was more inviting to pirates than the Ottoman-dominated eastern Mediterranean. In this bustling maritime ecosystem, weak imperial defenses and permissive politics made piracy possible, while robust trade made it profitable. By 1700, the limits of the Ottoman Mediterranean were defined not by Ottoman territorial sovereignty or naval supremacy, but by the reach of imperial law, which had been indelibly shaped by the challenge of piracy.

Piracy and Law in the Ottoman Mediterranean is the first book to examine Mediterranean piracy from the Ottoman perspective, focusing on the administrators and diplomats, jurists and victims who had to contend most with maritime violence. Pirates churned up a sea of paper in their wake: letters, petitions, court documents, legal opinions, ambassadorial reports, travel accounts, captivity narratives, and vast numbers of decrees attest to their impact on lives and livelihoods. Joshua M. White plumbs the depths of these uncharted, frequently uncatalogued waters, revealing how piracy shaped both the Ottoman legal space and the contours of the Mediterranean world.
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604 printed pages

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