An Early Modern Dialogue with Islam: Antonio de Sosa’s Topography of Algiers (1612) is the first English translation of a riveting chronicle of European and North African cultural contacts. Written by the Portuguese cleric Doctor Antonio de Sosa while he was held prisoner in Algiers between 1577 and 1581, and published posthumously in Spain thirty years later (1612), the Topography is a fascinating eyewitness account of cultural life in Algiers near the end of the sixteenth century.
No other European work takes us so deeply into the quotidian life of an Islamic city during the early modern period, a time of expansion and glory for the Ottoman Empire and its territories, especially for its farthest western province, the Turkish-Algerian Regency. In 1519, at the culmination of a seven-years’ war of conquest of the Barbary Coast, Khayr al-Din Barbarossa, the most formidable of all corsairs operating in the western Mediterranean, sought help from Sultan Selim I against the Spaniards, offering to place Algiers under the mantle of the Ottoman Empire.1 Algiers soon became a sandjak, or province, attached to the Ottoman Porte, while Barbarossa obtained the title of governor-general, as well as two thousand Turkish janissaries and artillery, a force later expanded by four thousand other Levantine Muslims and corsairs who enlisted in the Algerian militia.
During the next fifty years, the influx of Turks, Christian converts to Islam, and corsairs from all over the world turned Algiers into the greatest of the North African seaports dedicated to privateering. The arrival of thousands of Christian slaves and booty, seized each year in attacks on the coasts of Spain and Italy or its islands and on Chris- tian ships that ventured into the Mare Nostrum, turned Algiers into the
"Corsair" is of course the original Portuguese ocean going ship. Googling Islam Corsair has fascinating results!