Corsairs. A colorful cast of cruel characters. They sailed the Barbary waters of North Africa, pillaging and plundering towns along the Mediterranean to their hearts content. But as with all pirates they had one goal in mind: capturing Christian slaves and selling them on the Muslim market in Africa and the Middle East.
You may be asking yourself what makes these guys so special. A corsair by any other name is still just a pirate. True, sorta. Let’s focus on why these swarthy men are so unique.
Ships. Sneaking into the shallow harbor waters required stealth and speed so they favored the galley ship, a long sleek ship maneuvered by rowers, often disguised as merchant vessels with false colors flying high. As their victim approached, the galley fired a broadside to damage the other ship’s top deck. Screaming curses, the corsairs boarded her prey armed to the teeth with knives, muskets, pikes, and long bows.
And what better outfit to go with a spike tipped pike than a pair of snazzy harem pants, an awesome turban, and one bodacious mustache. Like most other sea-faring crews, it was the captain with the fanciest dress and the rest of the crew were left to scrounge for rags from conquered foes.
The most well-known Barbary men were the Barbarossa brothers. Known for their fierce fighting, capturing of towns, and most famously for their red hair. Hence the name Barbarossa. Pretty sure Disney took this into account when thinking of a name for Captain Jack Sparrow’s immortal enemy.
Parting tidbit: The corsairs were the fellas who provoked the US into her first wars in the Middle East, and set the precedent for hostage crisis and ransoming of American captives. The Barbary wars eventually ended in 1815 and the Marines got a little tune for the struggle. From the halls of Montezuma. To the shores of Tripoli.