Corsairs, Letter of Marque and the Balkans

We know the Corsairs or Privateers as naval warriors (corsars or civilian owners of armed ships) who, with the permission of their state and state authorities, attacked and spoiled enemy ships. Corsars attacked merchandise and warships under the flag of the countries they were in the war. The permission for such action was obtained from his kingdom and was called “Letter of Marque”. Upon receipt of the letter, the letter holder would organize the crew and ship. The corsar ship would sail into an attack on enemy ships. The so-called “Letter of Marque” guaranteed that they would not be suspended as pirates in the case of captives, but would be treated as war prisoners who would be released for redemption or exchange. The letter obliged the holder, that the part of the prey that they receive will be handed over to the country that protects them without compensation. During many wars of European nations possessed by colonies in the Caribbean, many corsars exploited the opportunity to take the Scripture, become pirates, thus saving the fate of the hangman and legally acquiring prey. During the fight, corsars have flagged the flags of the countries that provide them with protection on their ships.
Since the 1694th, according to the British Admiralty, English corsars, with the corsar flag, also emphasized a completely red flag. By the end of the wars, the corsars would stay out of business, so they often crossed to the pirate. Then they would attack all the ships, even those of their former patrons. During peaceful times, corsars were sometimes devoted to pirate hunting. In English, the word privateer has a dual meaning: a corsar and a corsar’s ship.
ship 2
The most famous corsars was probably Francis Drake, who had devastated the Pacific coast (then governed by the Spanish crown), and Queen Elizabeth II gifted a full ship of preciousness to repay her protection.
Corsars in the Balkans
Ulcinj (Republic of Montenegro) was a town of Turkish corsars. They had bases all over North Africa. Their biggest base was Algeria. The most famous and greatest of all Turkish corsars was Hayreddin Barbarossa (1478-1546).
Throughout history, Ulcinj has long been known as a corsars nest. Since the 14th century, the city began to populate corsars from Malta, Tunisia and Algeria. The coastal part, from today’s Ulcinj to Kotor, was a pirate haven. Corsars, especially during the 17th and 18th centuries, represented fear and trembling at the sea. The corsar gangs have so much strengthened, and day after day they attacked various merchant ships, who sailed under various flags. They would plunder the ships and swiftly sail into their shuttles, which they made along the entire Ulcinj coastline.
gusari slika 1
The old town of Ulcinj consists of narrow and picturesque streets, surrounded by centuries old buildings with elements of Baroque and Renaissance style. The Balsić tower and palace, the Venetian palace, the slaves of slaves, as well as many sacred objects, are part of the city’s history.
In front of the church-mosque in the Old Town is a small square, once a slave market. It is surrounded by volcanoes, since since the mid-17th century, Ulcinj became a significant slave of slaves captured by Ulcinian pirates. The slaves are Ulcinj blacks, by ethnicity Montenegrins, descendants of African slaves, who were sold to slaves in slaughterhouses in Ulcinj (Republic of Montenegro) and Kotor (Republic of Montenegro). Most slaves were from Italy and Dalmatia. The Ulcinj slaves were kept captive. They were not used as workforce, but to get rid of relatives, friends or captives. Families or their municipalities would say that they are there. If a family, a relative, or someone else decided to buy them, that trade would be done on a neutral ground, usually in Dubrovnik (Republic of Croatia).
Great families have been wondering who will have more service, be richer and more powerful, through trafficking in people. This “dirty job” (in this part of the world) lasted until the Balkan wars. By then, Ulcinj’s corsars and seafarers, with their allies, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Congo, Sudan … drove slaves to the Adriatic, and turned them into cheap labor. They often sought redemption for them and allowed them to go to families to make them interested in their destiny and offer money to corsars. Rizo Šurla, the best-known dark-haired mountain puppy, was the last blackman in the year 2003. The last black was a very dark bush, because the Šurle family had been named after the Ulcinj area in which they were settled – “mixed” with the white people, sharing hundreds of years with them good and evil. One thing is certain – their neighbors always loved them, so even when they were not free they did not treat them as servants, but they were straight. That is why Rizini ancestors selected Montenegrin names and surnames. She was in Ulcinj in the 16th century – she brought an accident. The corsars took them as slaves on their ships. In Ulcinj’s history it is written that in 1571, after the Turks dominated this small town near the mouth of Bojana, there were 400 Berber families from North Africa. They went often to Sudan and the Congo, and we pulled men and women with force, and sold them to the slave market in Ulcinj, the most famous on the Adriatic. They were forced to serve by rich houses, but eventually gained freedom, took Montenegrin names and surnames, folk, but remained faithful to Islam. In the book “Ulcinj in the Ottoman Empire,” publicist Mustafa Canka writes that some were simply overlooked by Arap (black ) or have taken over the surnames of the shipowner and the captain, who brought them from Africa to Europe. Dressing did not differ from the others, dressing “for the Turkish” as it was customary at that time.
Ulcinj’s tourist guides can no longer meet tourists with their black neighbors because Rizini’s descendants and relatives moved and rarely come, but they are talking about the Arabian customs and culture that mixed with Montenegrin, giving it a special exoticism. There is an Arab Field on Mount Pinje above Ulcinj, where descendants of African slaves performed their games. One of them is called Sharpel, and as the Ulcinj chroniclers explain, it blends with the aphromelose and the rhythm, so she is happy to listen and watch.
When the Berlin Congress was held in1878, Montenegro was recognized as 27 European states, there were 100 blackhouses in Ulcinj. In 1880, Ulcinj became part of Montenegro, and a dozen seafaring families with their black service moved to Albania. By 1928 there were only five. In 1696, priest missionary Marin Guino informed the Congregation that there were about 125 slaves on Ulcinj square. The legend says that the famous writer Miguel de Cervantes and his brother Rodrigo were captured in the Old Town of Ulcinj. There, Cervantes found inspiration for his work, „Don Quijot“. Later, he became a free man.

Corsars from the Republic of Croatia

The Croatian coast has taken precedence over the western Adriatic coast, due to its indivisibility. Numerous islands, coves and canals were safer routes to the open sea. Thus they allowed the occurrence of piracy. In the Middle Ages, Omis was a dangerous pirate/corsar’s nest, on the eastern coast of the Adriatic. The development of the Croatian Adriatic coast has favored the development of piracy due to a series of islands, canals and bays. If we add this river to Cetina and stone cliffs, it is clear why Omis was destined to become the center of piracy. Through its dreary history, this tiny little town has had many problems with its neighbors, especially the powerful Venomers. Even the fact that the pope had been exonerated from the Church did not prevent them from continuing to engage in their ancient craftsmanship. It is important to note that the piracy of the ancient Illyrians and their successors of the Slavs can not be seen in today’s eyes. At that time, piracy was a legitimate way of doing business. Hijacking as an economic activity was indented by all the old peoples of the Mediterranean.
In Croatian culture, Omiš has the epitome of the pirate town. Omicidal pirates have certainly celebrated even after the book of Alojz Majetić’s Omiš Pirates. In this historical novel, the author describes numerous events and people from the homeland of pirate history, from 1180 to 1226. It shows the struggles for preserving the honor, grandfather and independence that were run by the Croatian tribe Kacici against Byzantine and Venetian. Hiding, of course, has left an indelible mark in the history of Omis. It will be difficult to remove the pirate fever from the name of this city. Because of this, Omiš has been in bad spirits for years, especially in the Republic of Venice. Even a few centuries after the abolition of piracy (1774), Venetian travel writer Alberto Fortis thought he must defend Omišan’s honor in front of Venetian readers. Thus, in his book Viaggio in Dalmatia (The Way to Dalmatia) justifies Omisans, and emphasizes their hospitality, cordiality and exceptional position of the city.

Corsars in the USA

During the American War of Independence, US rebels were used to oppress British Kingdom. It is well known that George Washington was the owner of a corsar ship. During the war Americans were plundering to capture or destroy 600/700 British ships. For the American pirates, the only problem was that the British rebels in the United States were not considered warlike, but outraged. In the case of capture, they would be hanged like a pirate. In that war, the most prominent corsar was John Paul Jones, Scott who fought on the side of Americans, and robbed the British. During the US-British War of 1812-1814, the American side was pointed out by corsars Jean Lafitte when he contributed to the defense of New Orleans, far from the most powerful British forces. During the American Civil War, the Confederacy (South) was abundantly used by corsar ships, which acted against the merchant ship of the Union (North). The stories of pirates burying gold are, however, only myths. A small number of them buried their treasure. Among them is Captain William Kidd. He was a corsar who was sent to pirate hunting, but he himself became a pirate. He tried to hide his pirate past and return to New York.
Nowadays, we read books, literary works, we watch movies, play games, watch animated movies and cartoons (which in various ways speak about piracy and pirates) in order to learn more about pirates and their history.

One of the most famous cartoons about pirates is “Tom and Jerry: Shiver Me Wiskers”.
Adventures of popular animated creations by William Hanna and Josepha Barber will delight the youngest who will watch their favorite cat and mouse in format longer than 5 minutes. It is not excluded that the older generation joins the children in looking at these timeless heroes, with whom they have grown up for many generations.
gusari tom i džeri

Tom and Jerry are pirates who are sailing for the treasures. One day, a wale dumped a bottle with a message on the deck of the ship, which is actually a map with a treasured treasure! Tom learns that the map is damned, and that he must return it to the bottle before sunset, or have to face the consequences. Captain Red Pirate Ron (Kevin Michael Richardson), who has two brothers, Blue Pirate Bob (Kathy Najimy) and Purple Pirate Paul (Wallace Shawn), are equally desirous of wealth to help find Tom and Jerry.

Piracy or privateering (as a legitimate form of warfare) was abolished by the Paris Declaration on April 16, 1856. Since then, attack on the sea can be done only by a warship.
Through history, it was written and talked only about the negative aspects of piracy. Many forget the positive side of piracy. They forget courage and fearlessness, unbeatableness at sea and exceptional creativity in shipbuilding.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s