Barbary Coast Pirates – Algeria

When we think of pirates, the vision that comes to mind is those swashbuckling gents traveling through the Mediterranean Ocean searching for treasure and living the adventurous life upon the high seas. However, if one was to look at the history of the Barbary Coast, you will see a time and place that dates back hundreds of years and held little of the adventurous romanticism that Hollywood has created of the pirate lore.

Stretching across northern Africa, the Barbary Coast was a hotbed of pirate activity. The treasure that was sought most often were slaves stolen from European Christians and sold in the market place of Algeria and Morocco. A violent lifestyle was created by these groups of men. The disregard for human life in these times would make most of us shudder with grief. The galleys, pirate ships, were fast and agile and ruled with strict discipline at the expense of the slaves who were made to row these ships.

Barbarossa, which means Red Beard, is probably the most famous of the pirates who operated in this area, was hired to defend Algiers from the Spaniards and after successfully doing so he killed the ruler of Algeria and made this home to many of the pirate ships that operated in the area.

Although Hollywood and literature has idolized the pirating marauder, nothing could be further from the truth. These men were brutal, violent and greedy. The area now is one of true beauty and should be visited to explore an area of important history, but a history that should not be admired.