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Barbary pirates
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Barbary pirates

The Barbary pirates operated out of Tunis, Tripoli, Algiers, Salè and ports in Morocco, preying on shipping in the western Mediterranean Sea from the time of the Crusades until the early 19th century. Their stronghold was along the stretch of northern Africa that was known as the Barbary Coast (a medieval term for the Maghreb) after its Berber inhabitants. Perhaps the best-known of them was Barbarossa (meaning red beard) the nickname of Khair ad Din, who after having been invited to defend the city of Algiers from the Spaniards killed its ruler and seized it in 1510, making it into a major base for privateering, as well as a regent for the sultan of the Ottoman Empire.

Some of them were renegades or Moriscoes. Their usual ship was the galley with slaves or prisoners at the oars.

The pirates' constant attacks on United States shipping in the early 1800s prompted the building of the United States Navy, including one of America's most famous ships, the USS Constitution. American efforts in putting down the pirates won the young nation much respect. The United States Marine Corps actions in this event led to the inclusion of the line, "to the shores of Tripoli" in the "Marine Hymn".

See also

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