In September 1614, Ali bin Yusuf of Jerba lodged a lawsuit against a Venetian merchant named Nicolo in the court of Galata, a suburb of Istanbul. Ali accused Nicolo of having murdered his son, Süleyman, a ship captain, and five of his son’s shipmates in a piratical attack eight years earlier. Ali’s claims before the court, and his difficulty substantiating them—for the Venetian pirate had murdered the Ottoman crew to eliminate witnesses (one escaped, but two were required)—frame the fundamental questions the book addresses, first and foremost: who, what, or when is a pirate? The introduction also provides the historical context, surprisingly absent from most studies of Mediterranean piracy, essential to understanding why the period between 1570 and 1720 was one of pervasive piracy.
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