Pirates, Merchants, and a Small Battle on the Island of Kythira in the Later Middle Ages
Merchants in the later medieval Mediterranean crossed boundaries both geographical and moral. In November 1327 two Mallorcan investors complained to the king’s court that their ship, which they had sent to the eastern Mediterranean laden with tradable goods, had been ransacked by the violent natives of Kythera, an Aegean island at that time ruled by Venice. The Venetians, always conscious of maintaining good trade relations, sent representatives to the island and conducted a full investigation. After interviewing the islanders, the duke of the island sent his conclusions back to Venice: the Catalan “merchants” had come ashore on the island and began plundering farm animals and foodstuffs. The islanders took much abuse before finally fighting back, killing several of the pirates and freeing the slaves in their galley. When it came back to the doge of Venice that the Catalans had acted as pirates on Kythera, they offered no compensation to the investors. Using documents from the investigation into this incident, this article examines medieval self-help, the line between merchant and pirate, and the reputation of pirates in a time of violence and economic competition. A complex image emerges in which authorities and everyday people alike struggled to address the problems caused by maritime violence.
Terry, David D.
"Pirates, Merchants, and a Small Battle on the Island of Kythira in the Later Middle Ages,"
The Hilltop Review: Vol. 11:
2, Article 10.
Available at: https://scholarworks.wmich.edu/hilltopreview/vol11/iss2/10
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