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The centre and the frontier: Ottoman cooperation with the North African corsairs in the sixteenth century

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Sixteenth-century North Africa, the "Forgotten Frontier" between two rival empires, the Habsburgs and the Ottomans, came into the latter's orbit with the incorporation of the North African corsairs into the Ottoman empire. The employment of these corsairs and the incorporation of their lands created opportunities as well as problems. This article aims to highlight the reasons behind and the limits of the cooperation between North African corsairs and Istanbul when the importance of the former for the latter reached its zenith, in tandem with the Ottoman-Habsburg rivalry in the Mediterranean. It furthermore tries to demonstrate the details of the relationship between the imperial centre in Istanbul and the frontier provinces of North Africa with its centrifugal elites. Thus it reveals the diversity of Ottoman administrative practices as well as the pragmatism and flexibility of the Ottoman government. Finally, it delineates the role that the corsairs played in the shaping of the Mediterranean strategy of the Ottoman empire.


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