Tuscany legends: Barbarossa the pirate and the island of Giglio

This time, the protagonist of the story is a man whose existence is documented by several sources. The legend is his shocking ferocity. This is Khayr al-Din, better known as Barbarossa the pirate, corsair and Ottoman admiral. Who did not spare even Giglio Island.

The history of Giglio has always been very troubled. Coveted for its strategic position in the heart of the Tyrrhenian Sea and the mineral-rich soil, the island suffered several dominations. It experienced in 1544 one of the most difficult periods.

During the Italian war of 1542-46 (pitting Francis I of France and Suleiman I of the Ottoman Empire against the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V and Henry VIII of England), Khayr al-Din was sent to Marseilles by Suleiman the Magnificent. The corsair raids along the Tyrrhenian coast of the Peninsula. He did not spare anyone or anything.

Then, in 1544, he arrived on Giglio Island. He destroyed it. But this was not enough to appease its ferocity. At the time, there were 1,200 people on Giglio Island. Barbarossa deported one thousand as slaves. De facto, Giglio Island was depopulated.

Later, Medici family repopulated the island. Pirate attacks continued during the following centuries, although not with the same devastating cruelty of Barbarossa. Until November 18 1799, when Giglio Island people took their revenge on the flag with the crescent. But that’s another legend.


Image source: “Barbarossa Hayreddin Pasha” di sconosciuto – Transferred from en.wikipedia; transferred to Commons by User:Iustinus using CommonsHelper.. Original uploader was Shuppiluliuma.. Con licenza Pubblico dominio tramite Wikimedia Commons

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