THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE -
Murad IV: detail of Ottoman miniature portrait, 1623-
The Barbary Pirates
xxxxxIt was during the reign of Murad IV (1623-
xxxxxThe defeat of the Ottomans at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571 put a brake on their activities for a time, but by 1580s they were well back in business, preying upon the merchant ships that criss-
xxxxxIn the early part of the 17th century, the pirates of Algeria and Tunisia joined forces, and the Moroccans began to take a more active part, based mainly on the port of Sale. These developments, together with the change from oar to sail, made piracy an even bigger enterprise along the Barbary coast. Pirate ships now ventured into the Atlantic, going as far as the Canaries in the south and Iceland in the north. The British Isles could now be targeted. In 1663, for example, a raid was made on the port of Baltimore on the south coast of Ireland and, at about the same time, St. Ives and Salcombe in south-
xxxxxOver the years some attempts were made by European powers to knock out these pirate strongholds. In 1655, for example, a British fleet under the command of Admiral Robert Blake, attacked Tunis, and during the reign of Charles II numerous expeditions were despatched to teach the pirates a lesson. In the early 1680s the French attacked Algiers on two occasions. But these assaults were punitive by nature and never driven home. As a result, the pirates were active throughout the 18th century. Indeed, so serious did the situation become that, as we shall see, the Congress of Vienna of 1815 (G3c), which made the peace settlement at the end of the Napoleonic Wars, stressed the need to rid the seas of these plunderers, though this was not achieved until well into the 19th century.
xxxxxAs we have seen, the Barbary Pirates established their bases along the North African coast as early as Roman times, and by the 1500s had become a serious menace to shipping in the eastern Mediterranean. Emperor Charles V attempted to destroy them in 1535 (H8), and the defeat of the Ottoman Turks at the naval Battle of Lepanto in 1571 slowed down their activities for a time. However, during the reign of Murad IV (1623-
xxxxxAs we have seen, with the defeat of the Turks at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571, the Ottoman Empire began to show the first signs of decay, and matters were made worse in 1623 (J1) with the seizure of Baghdad by the Safavids of Iran under their leader Abbas I. The new Ottoman leader, however, Murad IV, put a temporary halt to the decline. By a set of draconian measures -
xxxxxAs we have seen, by the end of the reign of Suleyman the Magnificent (1520-
xxxxxThe Safavid dynasty, established in 1499, had gained control of most of Iran by 1512. Two years later they were defeated at the Battle of Chaldiran by the Ottoman Turks and lost some of their territory, but by the end of the 16th century a brilliant leader had emerged, Shah Abbas I. Coming to power in 1588 he raised a highly proficient army over the next ten years and then felt able to take on the Ottoman Turks. He seized Tabriz and then in 1623 (J1), just a few years before his death, captured the treasured city of Baghdad. But his triumph was short lived. He died without an heir in 1629 (he had murdered all his next of kin!) and it was now left to the Ottomans to take the offensive under their new, able leader Murad IV.
xxxxxTough measures were required to bring a halt to the empire's decline, and Murad IV (illustrated) proved the man willing to provide and enforce them. Taking all power into his own hands, he ruthlessly crushed a rebellion in Asia Minor and then introduced a reign of terror to combat crime and corruption. By his so-
xxxxxFollowing the death of Murad IV in 1640 -