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Transnational Piracy in the Eastern Mediterranean, 1821-1897


Studies of Mediterranean piracy are usually restricted to the early modern period. This is because western intervention in the orient was believed to have brought about an end to piracy in the region, especially after French expansion into North Africa and the installation of a Bavarian monarchy in Greece. This dissertation analyzes transnational piracy in Greece and the Ottoman Empire during the nineteenth century showing that violent maritime crime continued to the century’s end. By looking at unpublished archival sources in Ottoman Turkish, Greek, French, English, and Italian housed in the Ottoman Prime Ministry archives, the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs archives, and other regional collections, this work is the first study to document the continued persistence of piracy in the Eastern Mediterranean after the French colonization of Algiers in 1830 and the end of the Greek War of Independence in 1832. It charts the changing rates and nature of piracy over the course of the nineteenth century and considers the factors that shaped it, with these ranging from political reforms to changes in the regional economy caused by the accelerated integration of the Mediterranean into the expanding global economy during the third quarter of the century. It also considers imperial power struggles, ecological phenomena, shifting maritime trade routes, revisions in international maritime law, and changes in the regional and world economy to explain the fluctuations in violence at sea. By extending the narrative of piracy in the region well into the modern era, my work revises the current literature by showing that there was much greater continuity between modern and earlier forms of maritime predation.

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