The Corsairs’ Longest Voyage

The Turkish Raid in Iceland 1627


During the summer of 1627, corsairs from Algiers and Salé, Morocco, undertook the long voyage to Iceland where they raided the eastern and southern regions of the country, resulting in the deaths of around thirty people, and capturing about 400 further individuals who were sold on the slave markets. Around 10% of the captives were ransomed the next twenty years, mostly through the efforts of the Danish monarchy.
In this volume, the history of these extraordinary events and their long-lasting memory are traced and analysed from the viewpoints of maritime warfare, cultural encounters and existential options, based on extensive use of various sources from several languages.

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Þorsteinn Helgason, Ph.D. (2013), University of Iceland, is Associate Professor of History emeritus at the University of Iceland. His publications include textbooks in history, documentary films (e.g. Atlantic Jihad), Opening the Mind or Drawing Boundaries? History Texts in Nordic Schools (ed.) and articles on the Turkish Raid.

List of Figures
A Note on Names and Letters

  Exceptional History
  Research in the Field
  Memory and History

1 The Inception of the Turkish Raid, and Its Central Character
  The Return of the Moors
  Compaen the Pirate
  Iceland Ahoy
  How Do We Know This?

2 The Course of Events in Iceland
  Strategy and Resistance in Southwest Iceland
  Attack on the Seat of Government

3 Incursion and Salvation in the East Fjords
  Enter the Corsairs
  Reign of Terror in Berufjörður
  South and North of Berufjörður
  Did the Raiders Go to Eydalir?
  The Corsairs’ Farewell
  Heroes and Guardian Spirits
  Folklore and Fact

4 Razzia and Martyrdom in the Westman Islands
  Like Lambs to the Slaughter
  The Martyrdom of Jón Þorsteinsson
  Not Many Placenames and Folktales

5 Piracy and Defences
  Danish Defences
  Icelandic Defences in the Shadow of the Turkish Raid
  Lessons of the Turkish Raid
  Unarmed Nation
  Civil Defence
  Military Expenditure
  Special Status
  What Would Bishop Brynjólfur Have Said?

6 Warfare or Robbery
  The Contemporary Analysis of the Turkish Raid
  Forms of Maritime Raids
  Piracy in the Mediterranean
  Maritime Raids to the Northern Seas
  Piracy in the Name of the Law
  Corsair States
  Piracy as a Sector of the Economy and a Pillar of the State
  Corsair Licences
  Holy War
  Legitimate Government
  New Principles of Freedom
  Emotions and Justice

7 Salvation
  Redemption from Slavery
  The First Redemption Mission
  Individual Deals
  The Second Redemption Mission
  Danish Emissaries in the Catholic Stronghold
  Slave Registers
  The Bottom Line
  Trials of a Redeemer
  Comparison and Aftermath
  Jón Vestmann
  Anna Jasparsdóttir
  Murat Reis

8 Cultural Memory
  Scribes of Memory
  A Tool of National Memory: The Turkish Raid in School Textbooks

9 The Visible Turkish Raid
  Works of Art
  I Quatri Mori by Pietro Tacca
  Adriaen Matham’s Drawings
  Kross: A Sword Out of the Mouth of Christ

  Context and Connections of the Turkish Raid
  The Place of the Turkish Raid: Event and Memory
  Tracing the Course of Events
  Micro and Macro, Past and Present

Students of piracy, Mediterranean corsairs, captivity, ransoming and slavery, cultural memory of trauma, and early modern encounters between Islam and Christianity, and between Denmark and Iceland, and their relations with the “Barbary” cities of Algiers and Salé.
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