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The Participation of the Island of Hydra in Countering Piracy in the Aegean in the Early 19th Century

Sophia Laiou - Assistant Professor, Department of History, Ionian University

 

Abstract

This paper aims to demonstrate the role of the island of Hydra in combating piracy in the Aegean Sea at the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th centuries. Hydra’s contribution is analyzed within the framework of the Ottoman policy applied at the time, towards securing the maritime trade roads and establishing the Ottoman order in the Eastern Mediterranean. Hydra’s contribution goes beyond its annual obligation to provide the Ottoman fleet with experienced seamen and shipbuilders: it also includes the participation of Hydriot ships, on behalf of the Ottoman state, in the pursuit of pirate flotillas. The role of the island’s başkocabaşı Georgios Vulgaris, as well as the kapudan paşa Hüseyin Paşa, was of great significance regarding the undertaking of such initiatives. Both Ottoman and Greek archival sources are used for this paper, which also aims to examine the following questions: a) Was there any political and economic motivation for the inhabitants of Hydra to participate in the Ottoman state efforts against piracy? (And were there respective state rewards for that participation?) b) To what extent was this Hydriot involvement coincidental, on a basis of maintaining good personal relationships between the above-mentioned officials?

 

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