17th Century Barbary Piracy and the West Countries Fisheries

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Author: Dr Jo Esra
Published Date: Mar 8 2016
Volume 7 – Issue 1

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During the late C16 and early C17 there was a marked increase in contact between Muslim ‘Turks’ from the Ottoman Empire, the ‘Moors’ from the independent country of Morocco, and the West Country.

Some of this was peaceful but piracy inevitably played a part.

Emboldened, the interactions grew ever-closer to the SW coast during the early C17. Goods and people were seized; the fishing fleet suffered the greatest depredations.

In this article Jo Esra charts the reaction and impact of these raids on the fishing communities of the South West. Attempts by a distant king to curtail the damage showed that he was unable to act effectively. While the Commonwealth developed stronger policies, the attacks left lasting damage on the West Country’s Newfoundland trade.

The localised fishing trade, however, proved resilient.