In The Captive Sea, Daniel Hershenzon explores the entangled histories of Muslim and Christian captives—and, by extension, of the Spanish Empire, Ottoman Algiers, and Morocco—in the seventeenth century to argue that piracy, captivity, and redemption helped shape the Mediterranean as an integrated region at the social, political, and economic levels. Despite their confessional differences, the lives of captives and captors alike were connected in a political economy of ransom and communication networks shaped by Spanish, Ottoman, and Moroccan rulers; ecclesiastic institutions; Jewish, Muslim, and Christian intermediaries; and the captives themselves, as well as their kin.
Hershenzon offers both a comprehensive analysis of competing projects for maritime dominance and a granular investigation of how individual lives were tragically upended by these agendas. He takes a close look at the tightly connected and ultimately failed attempts to ransom an Algerian Muslim girl sold into slavery in Livorno in 1608; the son of a Spanish marquis enslaved by pirates in Algiers and brought to Istanbul, where he converted to Islam; three Spanish Trinitarian friars detained in Algiers on the brink of their departure for Spain in the company of Christians they had redeemed; and a high-ranking Ottoman official from Alexandria, captured in 1613 by the Sicilian squadron of Spain.
Examining the circulation of bodies, currency, and information in the contested Mediterranean, Hershenzon concludes that the practice of ransoming captives, a procedure meant to separate Christians from Muslims, had the unintended consequence of tightly binding Iberia to the Maghrib.
A Note on the Text
Chapter 1. The Social Life of Enslaved Captives
Chapter 2. Ransom: Between Economic, Political, and Salvific Interests
Chapter 3. Negotiating Ransom, Seeking Redemption
Chapter 4. Taking Captives, Capturing Communities
Chapter 5. Confronting Threats, Countering Violence
Chapter 6. Moving Captives, Moving Knowledge
Chapter 7. The Political Economy of Ransom
[A] thoroughly researched, clearly structured, convincingly argued and richly documented monograph on slavery in the early modern western Mediterranean . . . It is time to follow the stories of how slaves shaped the communities at home and abroad, and Hershenzon's book will be an indispensable part of this enterprise. Bulletin of Spanish Studies
The breadth and depth of research, the insight with which Hershenzon draws out the significance of the sources, and the clarity of his writing all make this an impressive and convincing book. Bulletin for Spanish and Portuguese Historical Studies
Daniel Hershenzon persuasively shows how captivity both tore slaves from their communities and connected those communities across the Western Mediterranean. Extensively researched and bracingly argued, The Captive Sea demonstrates the agency and impact of captives in an enduringly entangled Mediterranean world. Barbara Fuchs, University of California, Los Angeles
A serious, probing look at early modern Mediterranean slavery. Daniel Hershenzon locates new and highly personalized sources within the vast bureaucratic archives of Spain and then wields them to identify and theorize the expectations and logics of behavior that underlay the captives' struggles to obtain freedom. James Amelang, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid
- Winner of the 2019 Best First Book Prize by the Association for Spanish and Portuguese Historical Studies
- Winner of the University of Connecticut Humanities Institute's Sharon Harris Book Award
- Honorable Mention for The Wadjih F. al-Hamwi Prize for the Best First Book in Mediterranean Studies, granted by The Mediterranean Seminar