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The Maritime World of the Mediterranean


The Early Modern Mediterranean was a place of encounters. Some of these encounters were peaceful, others less so. For instance, merchants travelled long distances in search of desirable commodities and interacted effectively with local intermediaries, but navigating the sea with precious cargo meant that they ran the risk of falling prey to pirates who were after similar products. This seminar explores the various shapes that encounters took in the Early Modern Mediterranean: religious, military, economic, cultural, and so on, also discussing the effectiveness of the Mediterranean as a conceptual tool.



  • What makes the Mediterranean distinctive in the Early Modern period?
  • To what extent is the Mediterranean a useful framework for historical enquiry?
  • What was the place of the Mediterranean in the world economy after 1500?
  • How did piracy affect trading networks and daily life in the Mediterranean?



Strange and Wonderful Things Happened to Richard Hasleton (in Daniel Vitkus ed., Piracy, Slavery, and Redemption: Barbary Captivity Narratives from Early Modern England (Columbia University Press, 2001), pp. 88-92. (Text available from Google Books here.)

Questions about the source:

  • Why does the king of Couco want to find out what Hasleton's occupation was?
  • According to Hasleton, what skills were the Muslims trying to learn from him?
  • What were the 'many temptations' laid before him? Why do you think is he presenting these as 'temptations'?



Catlos, Brian, ‘Why the Mediterranean?’ in Brian Catlos and Sharon Kinoshita (eds) Can We Talk Mediterranean? Mediterranean Perspectives (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017), pp.1-17



Abulafia, David. ‘Mediterraneans’ in W. V. Harris, ed., Rethinking the Mediterranean (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005) pp. 64–93.

Dalrymple, W., 'The Porous Frontiers of Islam and Christendom: A Clash or Fusion of Civilisations?' in G. MacLean, ed., Re-Orienting the Renaissance. Cultural Exchanges with the East (Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005) (the article can be accessed by clicking on 'Front Matter', just before the 'Introduction')

Greene, Molly, ‘The Early Modern Mediterranean’ in Peregrine Horden and Sharon Kinoshita, eds., A Companion to Mediterranean History (Wiley, 2014), pp. 91-106.

Hutchings, Mark, ‘Acting Pirates: Converting a Christian Turned Turk’ in Claire Jowitt, ed., Pirates? The Politics of Plunder1550-1650, (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), pp. 90-104.

Matar, Nabil, ‘Piracy and Captivity in the Early Modern Mediterranean: The Perspective from Barbary’ in Claire Jowitt, ed., Pirates? The Politics of Plunder1550-1650, (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), pp.56-73



The Mediterranean:

Abulafia, David, The Great Sea: A Human History of the Mediterranean (2011)

Birchwood, M., and M. Dimmock, ‘Introduction’ M. North, ed. Cultural Encounters Between East and West, 1453–1699 (Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Press, 2005) pp. 1–9.

Braudel, Fernand, The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II, 2 vols. (New York: Harper & Row, 1972) pp. 312-25.

Burke, Peter, ‘Fernand Braudel’ in S. Clark, ed., The Annales School. Critical Assessments, vol. III, Fernand Braudel (London: Routledge, 1999) pp. 111–123.

Fusaro, M., C. Heywood, M. S. Omri, eds., Trade and Cultural Exchange in the Early Modern Mediterranean: Braudel’s Maritime Legacy (London: I.B.Tauris, 2010)

Greene, Molly, A Shared World. Christians and Muslims in the Early Modern Mediterranean, (Princeton: Princeton University Press. 2000)

Greene, Molly, Catholic Pirates and Greek Merchants: A Maritime History of Early Modern Mediterranean (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2010)

Grove, A. T., and O. Rackham, The Nature of Mediterranean Europe: An Ecological History (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001).

Harris, W. V., Rethinking the Mediterranean (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010)

Horden, Peregrine, and N. Purcell, The Corrupting Sea: A Study of Mediterranean History. (Oxford: Wiley, 2000).

Hughes, J. D., The Mediterranean: An Environmental History (Santa Barbara: ABCCLIO, 2005)

Matar, Nabil, In the Lands of the Christians. Arabic Travel Writing in the Seventeenth Century (London: Routledge, 2003)

Piterberg, G., T. F. Ruiz and G. Symcox, eds., Braudel Revisited. The Mediterranean World. 1600–1800 (Toronto: University Press, 2010)

Rothman, E. N., Brokering Empire. Trans-Imperial Subjects between Venice and Istanbul (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2012).


Pirates and Corsairs:

Amirell, S. E. et al., (eds), Persistent Piracy: Maritime Violence and State-Formation in Global Historical Perspective (2014)

Davis, Robert C., Christian slaves, Muslim masters. White slavery in the Mediterranean, the Barbary Coast, and Italy, 1500–1800 (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003)

Davis, Robert C., Holy War and Human Bondage. Tales of Christian-Muslim Slavery in the Early Modern Mediterranean (Santa Barbara: Praeger, 2009)

Friedman, E. G., Spanish Captives in North Africa in the Early Modern Age. (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1983)

Matar, Nabil, Britain and Barbary, 1589–1689 (Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 2005)

Vitkus, Daniel J., ed., Piracy, Slavery, and Redemption. Barbary Captivity Narratives from Early Modern England. (New York: Columbia University Press, 2001).

Weiss, G. L., Captives and Corsairs: France and Slavery in the Early Modern Mediterranean (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2011).