seem to be on a non-fiction kick these days. This one was a loaner from my brother, the story of the village of Baltimore, Ireland, and what happened when two ship-loads of Barbary pirates landed on night and marched most of them off into slavery.
I was aware that something like this had taken place – it’s fictionalized in the Sabitini yarn The Sea Hawk. In this historic recount, we have the events of the night when the raid took place, the events of the long cruise home (can you imagine forty days in the hold of a slaver?). And then, using other accounts (little is known about the actual final fate of the Balitmorians), we learn all about life in Algiers, as a slave and otherwise. Some of the taken would have been thrown behind the oar of a galley (that’s a bad outcome) or indentured to a merchant to learn a trade (not so bad, especially (and I say this with a straight face) you were living in a hut in Ireland mucking fish for a living)). And then there is the harem, which might be thought as easy going until you see the office politics that take place there.
And once we establish what those from the enslaved village might have faced, we also are presented with an account of the purely anemic efforts of the English to get their people back. The final chapter goes into the background of the village, of it possibly plots that might have taken place that might have led to the raid and all that. And yes, possibly the author has something here, but it seems a bit suggestive. I’m more inclined to think that this was a raid of chance and not an effort of merchants to see an English colony get swept into the hellpits of Algiers.
You’ll have to read this one and decide for yourself. My only wish was that a “real” map of the town had been provided. The mape of olde was cute and all, but it made it difficult to follow (and understand) the events of that fateful night when wrapped oars moved rakish cutters in close, when boots splashed in the shallows and the scimitars hissed from their jeweled scabbards.
Yeah, good book. Check it out.