Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Pirate Wednesday: Barbarossa

Oh, I'm on the ball this time. First thing in the morning I've got a nice little pirate story for you. This one is pretty short, but still pretty awesome. Bare in mind the dates, think of the level of sophistication in medicine at the time, and note how casually he just loses an arm. You gotta be pretty damn rough to keep going after that. I give you:

BARBAROSSA, or "REDBEARD" (his real name was URUJ). Barbary Corsair.

Son of a Turkish renegade and a Christian mother. Born in the Island of Lesbon in the Ægean Sea, a stronghold of the Mediterranean pirates.

In 1504 Barbarossa made his headquarters at Tunis, in return for which he paid the Sultan one-fifth of all the booty he took. One of his first and boldest exploits was the capture of two richly laden galleys belonging to Pope Julius II., on their way from Genoa to Civita Vecchia. Next year he captured a Spanish ship with 500 soldiers on board. In 1512 he was invited by the Moors to assist them in an attempt to retake the town and port of Bujeya from the Spaniards. After eight days of fighting, Barbarossa lost an arm, and the siege was given up, but he took away with him a large Genoese ship. In 1516 Barbarossa changed his headquarters to Jijil, and took command of an army of 6,000 men and sixteen galliots, with which he attacked and captured the Spanish fortress of Algiers, of which he became Sultan. Barbarossa was by now vastly rich and powerful, his fleets bringing in prizes from Genoa, Naples, Venice, and Spain.

Eventually Charles V. of Spain sent an army of 10,000 troops to North Africa, defeated the corsairs, and Barbarossa was slain in battle.

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