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Greek piracy and corsairing in the Eastern Mediterranean to 1830: A complementary activity to merchant shipping? Gelina Harlaftis Ionian University.

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Presentation on theme: "Greek piracy and corsairing in the Eastern Mediterranean to 1830: A complementary activity to merchant shipping? Gelina Harlaftis Ionian University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Greek piracy and corsairing in the Eastern Mediterranean to 1830: A complementary activity to merchant shipping? Gelina Harlaftis Ionian University

2 A nation Of Pirates?

3 The 1.Distinction of violence at sea in the Mediterranean 2.Greek shipping and piracy 3.Greek privateers/pirates during the Greek War of Independence 4.The last stroke of Greek traditional piracy The contents

4 The non-state violence at sea is entirely connected with commerce-raiding, that is, attacks upon seaborne trade. Actors of commerce-raiding are 1)Privateers (backed by the state) 2) corsairs (backed by the state) 3)Pirates (bandits) Mediterranean commerce-raiding 18 th century

5 The Piracy was a legitimate practice in the early European state system. Pirates brought revenue to the sovereign, public officials, and private investors. The conversion of privateering from “patriotic piracy’ to the “kind of piracy which disgraces our civilisation” followed a long path from the 16 th century and was revealed in the 19 th century. Piracy was transformed from “an honorable crime” to “a crime against human race” Mediterranean commerce-raiding 18 th century

6 The Privateers were in fact auxiliaries to the navies. Privateers played an important role in 18 th century naval warfare. In its War for Independence, the United States commissioned more than 2,500 privateers, who captured 2,300 vessels from the British. French privateers seized 2,100 English vessels between 1793 and 1796. Where there Greek privateers? Commerce-raiding, 18 th century Privateers

7 The The authorization of nonstate violence nicely served state interest for several centuries, yet it also generated a host of problems. On 16 April 1856, the governments of France, Britain, Russia, Prussia, Austria, Sardinia and Turkey signed the Treaty of Paris where they declared that ‘Privateering is, and remains abolished” Ban of privateering

8 Corsairs the “holy war” The Muslims: Tripoli, Tunisia, Algiers The Christians: The Maltese Where there Greek corsairs?

9 Pirates=bandits Endemic Mediterranean “land piracy” The most famous Greek pirates were the ones from Mani Greece’s most famous pirate den, formed the central peninsula of Peloponese and was one of most barren, wild, rocky, and most densely populated part of Peloponese

10 Too much importance on Greek piracy Corsairing and Piracy as the first form of capital accumulation? Was piracy a complementary activity to merchant shipping? Recent research has proved that there was a very important legitimate sea-trade carried by the Greeks and piracy constituted less than 20% of profit making

11 A coordinated parallel research took place in seven countries, Greece, Turkey, Malta, Italy, France, England and Netherlands in the archives of 15 cities: Istanbul, Athens, Thessaloniki, Herakleion, Corfu, Cefalonia, Venice, Messina, Palermo, Napoli, Florence, Genoa, Marseilles, London and Amsterdam. A team of 20 researchers: Greek, Turkish, Maltese, Italian, Dutch Research project by the Department of History, Ionian University “The Maritime History of the Greeks, 1700-1821’

12 Sources The final “product” was Amphitrete, a database with more 15,000 entries in six languages, Greek, Ottoman, Italian, French, English and Dutch, homogenised in Greek

13 “…Our ships do not only work in the White Sea, but in all seas of the levante and ponente, and beyond the Straits in the Ocean, in America, in Holland and in England, in the Baltic Sea, and last year merchants asked for our ships to be chartered for India…” Letter to the Porte, Archive of the Community of Hydra, 1805

14 Arrivals of Greek-owned (Ottoman and other flags) ships in the ports of the Western Mediterranean, 1700- 1821 (Trieste, Venice, Ancona, Malta, Messina, Napoli, Livorno, Genoa, Marseille)

15 The districts of the ‘maritime city’ legitimate maritime centres and piratical areas 15

16 16 18 th century the sea-transport systems Ionian Central Aegean Western Aegean Eastern Aegean Places of attack

17 An Ottoman armed merchant fleet, 1805 CaptainType of ship Name of shipPlace of orgin Armament Yakoumakis Nikolas pollacaThemistoclesHydra14 canons, 50 rifles, 50 knives Lazaros PetrospollacaMadonna d’Hydra Hydra14 canons, 40 rifles, 30 carbines, 25 pairs of pistols, 40 knives Giorgis Diakogianis pollacaAgios NikolaosPsara4 canons, 25 rifles, 15 carbines, 20 pistols, 25 knives Loukeris Thanassis Three- mast Agios GeorgiosGalaxi di 4 canons, 20 rifles, 15 carbines, 20 knives : Başbakanlık Osmanlı Arşivi, DVNS. İZN. 3

18 Attacks to Hydriot ships Reports from the community of Hydra in the 1790s and 1800s of attacks from – Maltese ships – Barbary ships When you make profits on legitimate trade you chase pirates…

19 Attacks to Hydriot ships by Western European ships the “notables of Hydra” to Kostaki Hatzeri, Dragoman of the Ottoman fleet, in Constantinople” on the February the 7 th, 1794 reveals an attack launched on the 17 th of January 1794 against two Hydriot “kayiks” (kind of boat)”by a pirate ship sailing under Savoian flag, on the small island of Proti, near Coron (Peloponnese).

20 Greek privateers during the War of Independence The 1820s, the years of the Greek War of Independence, was a period of culmination of Greek privateering and piratical activities. Shortly after the declaration of Independence a Ministry of Marine was formed and a Court of the Sea (Θαλάσσιο Δικαστήριο) as Court of Prizes (Δικαστήριο Λειών).

21 Greek Court of the Sea Along with the formation of rebellious Naval force, the revolutionary state was granting letters-of-marque allowing private merchantmen to act as privateers of the Revolutionary State, forming thus an auxiliary army at sea to combat the enemy. In this way, a large number of the merchant fleet of the islands was involved in the war.

22 Kapodistrias and piracy By the Treaty of London on 6 July 1827 the three Great Powers, Britain, France and Russia, decided to intervene and openly agreed to secure autonomy for Greece. After his appointment as Governor of the Hellenic Republic, Kapodistrias had the difficult task to impose an institutional and legislative framework to the Greek citizens.

23 Kapodistrias and piracy Of the first legislative decrees promulgated concerned commerce raiding and the establishment of peace at sea. Kapodistrias became himself the head of the much unpopular Court of the Sea, or Court of Prizes, that was completely restructured and within one year from 1828 to 1829 concluded and passed the sentences for 145 cases

24 Kapodistrias Court of the sea There were 30 cases concerning piracy; piratical ships captured by Admiral Miaoulis in the north Aegean. But the most famous case of piracy judged by the Court of the Sea was that of the Mavromichali family who continued the tradition of land-based sea piracy of the Mainotes.

25 Kapodistrias Court of the sea This most renown lawsuit concerned the seizure of the Sardenian vessel Constanza chartered in August 1827 for a voyage from Crete to Trieste carrying a high value cargo of oil and soap. In early September 1827 when the ship was approaching Zante, it was seized by gollette Hera, owned by the Mavromichalis family and was brought to Mani where it was unloaded by Ioannis, Elias and Constantinos Mavromichalis.

26 Kapodistrias Court of the sea The cargo was partly taken by the locals on the spot, but a substantial part of it was safely kept in the hands of the Mavromichali family The owner of the cargo happened to be the French Consul in Crete, the merchant Louis Godebout who sued the Mavromichalis to the Greek Court of the sea. Along this major case came a number of other lawsuits against the family for piratical actions.

27 Kapodistrias Court of the sea There were pressures to Kapodistrias to cover up all the charges against the Mavromichali family but all the cases brought to the Court from foreign subjects were too important to disregard. The Court proved the Mavromichali family guilty on a number of occasions and condemned them to pay thousands of money for costs and damages.

28 The last victim of Greek piracy But the pathos of the people and its old traditional practices is not easy to tame. What seemed to be at stake was the question of personal reputation, for this was a proud Mainot family that had fought ferociously for the cause of the Greek Liberation and still thought themselves as rulers and the law of their own land; revenge was the answer.

29 The last stroke of Greek piracy: The assassination of Kapodistrias

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