Protecting the Mediterranean: Ottoman Responses to Maritime Violence, 1718-1770

In: Journal of Early Modern History
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  • 1 University of Greenwich

This article examines the evolving role of the Ottoman navy in the mid-eighteenth century in protecting Ottoman seas from maritime violence. Despite enjoying a general peace with its European neighbors, merchant shipping in the waters of the eastern Mediterranean and coastal settlements were frequently subject to seaborne violence from European privateers, Maltese corsairs, and domestic pirates. Based on extensive research in the Ottoman archives, this article analyzes the development of the policy of protection (muḥāfaẓa) through defensive naval patrols, which occurred in conjunction with a strengthening of coastal fortifications and the implementation of innovative legal measures. The aims of this protective policy were to protect domestic and international trade, and to demonstrate imperial authority in Ottoman waters both in response to a demand for protection from subjects in the provinces from local and foreign violence, and as part of strengthening and consolidating Ottoman maritime territoriality in the Mediterranean.

  • 5

    Molly Greene, “The Ottomans in the Mediterranean” in The Early Modern Ottomans: Remapping the Empire, ed. Virginia Aksan and Daniel Goffman (Cambridge, 2007), 61-74; Daniel Panzac, “La géostratégie navale de l’Empire ottomane (des origines à l’apparition du cuirassé)” in Mutazioni e permanenze nella sotria navale del Mediterraneo secc. XVI-XIX, ed. Guido Candiani and Lucca Lo Basso (Milan, 2010); 103-110. Tuncay Zorlu, Innovation and Empire in Turkey: Sultan Selim III and the Modernisation of the Ottoman Navy (London/New York, 2008).

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  • 6

    Colin Heywood, “The English in the Mediterranean, 1600-1630: A post-Braudelian perspective on the ‘Northern Invasion’,” in Trade and Cultural Exchange, ed. Fusaro et al., 23-44, esp. 23-31.

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  • 7

    Fusaro, “After Braudel,” 2-4.

  • 8

    Edhem Eldem, “Strangers in their own seas? The Ottomans in the eastern Mediterranean basin in the second half of the eighteenth century,” Studi Settencenteschi 29-30 (2010): 25-58; Michael Talbot, “Ottoman seas and British privateers: Defining maritime territoriality in the eighteenth-century Levant” in Well-Connected Domains: Towards an Entangled Ottoman History (Leiden, 2014), 54-70.

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  • 9

    Eldem, “Strangers,” 52.

  • 13

    Aydın, “Güvenlik Parametreleri,” 161.

  • 14

    Eldem, “Strangers,” 52.

  • 16

    On maritime space, see: Colin Heywood, “Ottoman territoriality versus maritime usage: The Ottoman islands and English privateering in the wars with France, 1689-1714” in Insularités ottomanes, ed. Nicolas Vatin and Gilles Veinstein (Paris, 2004), 145-173, and “A Frontier Without Archaeology? The Ottoman Maritime Frontier in the Western Mediterranean, 1660-1760” in The Frontiers of the Ottoman World, ed. A.C.S. Peacock (London, 2009), 493-508.

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  • 17

    Annon Cohen, “Ottoman rule and the re-emergence of the coast of Palestine,” Revue de l’Occident musulman et de la Médierannée 39 (1995): 163-175.

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  • 19

    Daniel Panzac, “Osmanlı Donanması: Başlangıçdan Nizâm-ı Cedid’e Kadar (14-18 Yüzyıllar)” in Osmanlı Donanmasının Seyir Defteri: Gemiler, Efsaneler, Denizciler, ed. Ekrem Işın (Istanbul, 2009), 16-31 at 28.

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  • 20

    On the Adriatic, see: Egidio Ivetic, “The Peace of Passarowitz in Venice’s Balkan Policy” in The Peace of Passarowitz, 1718, ed. Charles Ingrao and Nicola Samardžić (West Lafayette in, 2011). On later developments after the collapse of Venetian power: Kahraman Şakul, “Osmanlılar Fransız İhtilali’ne Karşı: Adriyatik ve İtalya Sularında Osmanlı Donanması” in Nizam-ı Kadim’den Nizam-ı Cedid’e: III. Selim ve Dönemi (Istanbul, 2010), 255-315.

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  • 21

    Rifaat A. Abou-El-Haj, “The Formal Closure of the Ottoman Frontier in Europe, 1699-1703,” Journal of the American Oriental Society 89 (1969): 467-475. Carlowitz is about to undergo a long-overdue reassessment: Colin Heywood and Ivan Parvev, eds., From War to Peace: The Ottoman ‘Long War’ with the Lega Sacra Powers, 1683-1699 (Leiden, forthcoming).

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  • 22

    See: Colin Heywood, “The Kapudan Pasha, the English Ambassador, and the Blackham Frigate: An Episode in Anglo-Ottoman maritime relations (1697),” in The Kapudan Pasha, His Office and His Domain: Proceedings of the 4th Halcyon Days Conference, ed. E. Zachariadou (Rethymno, 2002), 409-438.

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  • 23

    Talbot, “Ottoman Seas,” 59-64.

  • 28

    Ivetic, “Peace of Passarowitz,” 66-68. On Morea as an island, see: Kahraman Şakul, “The Ottoman Peloponnese before the Greek Revolution: ‘A republic of ayan, hakim, and koçabaşı’ in ‘the sea of humans and valley of castles’,” in a forthcoming edition of Princeton Papers on Ottoman insularity edited by Antonis Hadjikyriacou.

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  • 32

    Ibid., 739.

  • 33

    Ibid., 739-740.

  • 41

    Marinos Sariyannis, “Images of the Mediterranean in an Ottoman Pirate Novel from the Late Seventeenth Century,” Osmanlı Araştırmaları / The Journal of Ottoman Studies 39 (2012): 189-204 at 201.

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  • 42

    Brummett, Ottoman Seapower, 96-99.

  • 94

    Ayalon, Natural Disasters, 61-62, 148-151.

  • 114

    Virginia Aksan, “Ottoman Political Writing, 1768-1808,” International Journal of Middle East Studies 25 (1993): 53-69.

  • 116

    Gelina Harlaftis, “The ‘Eastern Invasion’: Greeks in Mediterranean Trade and Shipping in the Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries” in Trade and Cultural Exchange, 223-252, esp. 235-241; Gelina Harlaftis and Sophia Laiou, “Ottoman State Policy in Mediterranean Trade and Shipping, c.1780-1820: The rise of the Greek-owned Ottoman merchant fleet” in Networks of Power in Modern Greece: Essays in Honour of John Campbell, ed. Mark Mazower (London, 2008), 1-44.

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  • 121

    Greene, Catholic Pirates, 5; Eldem, “Strangers,” 52.

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