This is the first Stage Pirate Coast
Al Hoceima (Badis)
To Tetouan


Pirate notes

Cristel notes

Duarte, our Portugese sailor and 'pirate narrator' was familiar with much of the Moroccan coast. The Mediterranean coast in particular was well
known to Portuguese and other Christian boats, as they sailed these waters for military, religious (crusades) and commercial
           Map of Barbary-15th century (detail)

Consequently, 14th and 15th century maps of the North African coast were extremely accurate (which was not the case for the interior lands, which were very poorly known- until Leo's minutious description of all Moroccan regions, towns, rivers and roads).

By the early 15th century, the Moroccan-Mediterranean coast had acquired so much strategic value that the Spanish and Portuguese actually invaded certain ports. For example, the Spanish took Ceuta in 1415.

While Al Hoceima itself was only built in the 1920s by the Spanish, during their occupation of Northern Morocco, many a port was known to the sailors and pirates of the time. Badis, a town a few kilometers West of Al Hoceima was one of these. Once the most important port in the Kingdom of Fes, Badis was home to great commercial activity, as a junction between the caravan trails and ships from Venice, Genoa, Pisa and Marseilles. In 1508, the Spanish took control of a small island (Penon de Velez de la Gomera), facing Badis, thus marking the city's decline. After the island's surrender to the Ottoman Turks in 1554, it became a hide away for Algerian pirates - who sought refuge in its cliffy landscapes and benefited from the Penon's location, hidden in the bay: "like Djerba [the Penon] had a quasi autonomous status and lived off of strong maritime traffic and commerce in the region" (Fisher, 49).

The advent of Piracy in this region, and further West must be understood as one of the many consequences of political instability in the Mediterranean basin Before the weakening of the Kingdom of Fes, before the Spanish reconquistada of Grenada, and before the Spanish-Portuguese rivalries, the Mediterranean was a rather peaceful region, and witnessed much commerce between both shores. According to the early 20th c. historian Fisher (Legende Barbaresque, see bibliography), the North African coast welcomed ships from Venice, Britain, Genoa and other Western ports quite regularly. Actually, strangers benefited from a right of asylum which was strictly enforced until the late 15th century, and many an Italian, French or Spanish coastal inhabitant would have found it rather natural to move to North Africa for a few years, and vice-versa.

Only when war broke out between the States did "piracy" really become an issue- both as a fact, and as an alibi for attack : any time a country wanted to stage an attack whose legitimacy was not immediately apparent, they would make reference to the other side's deplorable piracy activities. This was the justification used by the Portuguese when they captured Ceuta in 1415 (Fisher, p.55).

Sailing these pirate infested, war torn waters in the late 15th and early 16th century, Duarte would have certainly experiences the fears and thrills of maritime pursuit and escape. Follow him along the coast to Tetouan, another pirate's den.