The extraordinary story of Thomas Pellow and North Africa's one million European slaves
In the summer of 1716, a Cornish cabin boy named Thomas Pellow and 52 of his comrades were captured at sea by the Barbary corsairs. Their captors - fanatical Islamic slave traders - had declared war on the whole of Christendom. Thousands of Europeans had been snatched from their homes and taken in chains to the great slave markets of Algiers, Tunis and Sale in Morocco to be sold to the highest bidder.
Pellow was bought by the tyrannical sultan of Morocco, who bragged that his white slaves enabled him to hold all of Europe to ransom. The sultan was constructing an imperial pleasure palace of enormous scale and grandeur, built entirely by Christian slave labour. Thomas Pellow was selected to be a personal slave of the sultan and he would witness first-hand the barbaric splendour of the imperial Moroccan court, as well as experience of daily terror. For 23 years, he would dream of his home, his family and freedom. He was one of the fortunate few who survived to tell his told.
Drawn from unpublished letters and manuscripts written by slaves and by the padres and ambassadors sent to free them, this shocking and extraordinary story reveals a disturbing and forgotten chapter of our history.