The Mediterranean was once the theatre of memorable battles between privateers.
Unlike pirates, privateers were legal operators commissioned by sovereign states to attack enemy ships and coastal villages. All privateering activities were governed and regulated by inter-governmental treaties. Among the booty taken, more than a million Christians and Muslims are assumed to have been captured in the Mediterranean between 1500 and 1800. The Ottomans meanwhile, who controlled the Levantine and Anatolian coasts as well as those of the Balkans, captured around 3 million prisoners. Captives rarely saw home again. Many were sold and enslaved. Others rose to fame, fortune and high rank, just like some of the privateers that had captured them – the 16th-century Barbarossa brothers, sons of a Sicilian convert to Islam, Turgut Reis, an Ottoman privateer of Greek origin, and Osta Moratto Genovese, an Italian who later became Bey of Tunis, among the latter.