Episode 18- Captivity, Slavery and Ransom in the Early Modern Mediterranean

Episode 18 with Daniel Hershenzon

This month, Daniel Hershenzon, author of The Captive Sea: Slavery, Commerce, and Communication in Early Modern Spain and the Mediterranean, discusses slavery and ransoming practices on both the Christian and Muslim sides of the early modern Mediterranean, focusing on the seventeenth century.  Hershenzon presents Mediterranean slavery as creating an unintentional system of communication and economic exchange across geographical, political and religious boundaries.  In this episode, we explore how friars, merchants, family members and rulers all participated in the ransoming process and consider one particularly complex case of prisoner exchange negotiations as an example of how the ransoming system worked.

The Episode

The Guest

Daniel Hershenzon is an Associate Professor in the Department of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages at the University of Connecticut. His book, The Captive Sea: Slavery, Commerce, and Communication in Early Modern Spain and the Mediterranean, explores the 17th century entangled histories of Spain, Morocco and Ottoman Algiers, arguing that captivity and ransom of Christians and Muslims shaped the Mediterranean as a socially, politically, and economically integrated region. Hershenzon has published articles in Past and Present, the Journal of Early Modern HistoryAfrican Economic HistoryHistory CompassPhilological Encounters and in edited volumes.


The cover of Hershenzon’s book
Trinitarians Ransoming Captives

Suggested Reading

  • Benítez, Rafael. “La tramitación del pago de rescates a través del reino de Valencia: El último plazo del rescate de Cervantes.” In Le commerce de captifs: Les intermédiaires dans l’échange et le rachat des prisonniers en Méditerranée, XVe–XVIIIe siècle, edited by Wolfgang Kaiser, 193–217.  Rome: École Française de Rome, 2008.
  • Davis, Robert.  Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters: White Slavery in the Mediterranean, the Barbary Coast, and Italy, 1500–1800.  Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003.
  • Friedman, Ellen G.  Spanish Captives in North Africa in the Early Modern Age.  Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1983.
  • Greene, Molly.  “Beyond the Northern Invasion: The Mediterranean in the 17th Century.”  Past and Present 174 (2002): 42–71.
  • Hershenzon, Daniel.  The Captive Sea: Slavery, Commerce, and Communication in Early Modern Spain and the Mediterranean.  Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018.
  • Kaiser, Wolfgang, and Guillaume Calafat.  “The Economy of Ransoming in the Early Modern Mediterranean: A Form of Cross-Cultural Trade Between Southern Europe and the Maghreb (Sixteenth to Eighteenth Centuries).”  In Religion and Trade: Cross-Cultural Exchanges in World History, 1000–1900, edited by Francesca Trivellato, Leor Halevi, and Catia Antunes, 108–30.  Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014.
  • Martín Casares, Aurelia.  “Evolution of the Origin of Slaves Sold in Spain from the Late Middle Ages till the 18th Century.”  In Schiavitù e servaggio nell’economia europea, secc. XI–XVIII: Atti della “Quarantacinquesima Settimana di studi, 14–18 April 2013, edited by Simonetta Cavaciocchi, 409–30.  Florence: Florence University Press, 2014.
  • Martín Corrales, Eloy.  Comercio de Cataluña con el Mediterráneo musulmán (siglos XVI–XVIII): El Comercio con los “enemigos de la fe.”  Barcelona: Ediciones Bellaterra, 2001.
  • Ruiz Ibáñez, José Javier, and Vicente Montojo Montojo.  Entre el lucro y la defensa: Las relaciones entre la monarquía y la sociedad mercantil cartagenera: Comerciantes y corsarios en el siglo XVII.  Murcia: Real Academia Alfonso X El Sabio, 1998.
  • Vidal Castro, Francisco. “El cautivo en el mundo islámico: Cisión y vivencia desde el otro lado de la frontera andalusí.”  In II Estudios de la frontera: Actividad y vida en la Frontera. Congreso Celebrado en Alcalá La Real, 19–22 de Noviembre de 1997, 771–800.  Jaén: Diputación Provincial de Jaén, 1998.
  • White, Joshua M. Piracy and Law in the Ottoman Mediterranean.  Stanford, 2017.

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