How Muslims Attacked & Terrorized Britain For 300 Years

How West communities faced 300 years of terror from Barbary pirates

Trusted article source iconWestern Morning News

Ian Hernon, author of Fortress Britain, reveals how Cornwall and Devon were targets for fearsome Barbary pirates for three centuries.

The appearance of sinister black ships over the horizon caused panic along the Cornish and Devon coastline. Villagers fled inland, fishermen cut their nets and tried to flee.

Above: A painting entitled Battle with Barbary Pirates, 1538, shows the kind of bombardment Westcountry communities faced. Left: English captives witnessed by a sea captain in Algiers, 1815. And below: Ian Hernon's book, Fortress Britain

Above: A painting entitled Battle with Barbary Pirates, 1538, shows the kind of bombardment Westcountry communities faced. Left: English captives witnessed by a sea captain in Algiers, 1815. And below: Ian Hernon’s book, Fortress Britain

Many did not escape and ended as slaves in the galleys, quarries, fields and palaces of North Africa.

And these were not isolated incidents. For 300 years the Westcountry was terrorised by the Barbary pirates, fearsome raiders who burnt settlements, sank ships and carried off thousands of men, women and children into slavery.

There are no records of exactly how many were enslaved, but it is thought that around 8,500 new slaves were needed annually to replenish numbers.

Most came from Christian countries nearer to the African shore, but an estimated 1,500 a year were taken from the South West and Ireland during during the 17th century peak. The entire population of some hamlets simply disappeared.

In Cornwall the Corsairs generally found it easier simply to snatch fishing vessels to take away their crews.

In June 1636, St Keverne was attacked several times. Seven boats fishing off the Manacles were taken and 50 crewmen enslaved.

The same squadron of pirates also took five boats from Looe which were engaged in deep sea fishing off the Irish coast.

Empty vessels were left drifting without crews or sails. Women wept in the knowledge that they would not see their men again.


Muslims have always terrorized the world, always been the cause and reason for most battles and wars. From the birth of warlord Mohammed, the world had a new evil that would never leave: Islam. TMI

The captain of a Plymouth barque reported that he sailed to St Keverne where he heard “with sorrowful complaint and lamentable tears of women and children, that on the 15th instant three fisherboats belonging to St Keverne, three others of Helford, and one more of Mollan [Mullion] and about 50 men in them, being on the coast fishing near Black Head, between Falmouth and the Lizard, not three leagues off the shore, were taken by the Turks who carried both men and boats away”.

The frequency of the attacks threatened the region’s fishing industry. The JPs sitting in Bodmin noted that “through terror of that misery whereunto these persons are carried by these cruel infidels” people would rather “give over their trade than put their estates and persons into so great peril, there being now 60 vessels and about 200 seamen without employment”.

The Justices reported: “These Turks daily show themselves at St Keverne, Mount’s Bay, and other places that the poor fishermen are fearful not only to go to the seas, but likewise lest these Turks should come on shore and take them out of their houses.”

Other corsairs in 1640 took three barks “in the open view of Penzance” and stole three other ships the same night at Mousehole and Land’s End, while three other vessels were pursued and escaped, one after eight hours’ fighting. There were 60 “Turkish men-of-war” on the coast. In another raid, 60 men, women and children were taken from about Penzance.

The Barbary pirates were based primarily in the ports of Tunis, Tripoli and Algiers, but the worst culprits were not Muslim, or Arab, or North African, but English privateers and Dutch captains who exploited the changing loyalties of an era in which friends could become enemies and enemies friends with the stroke of a pen.

Oliver Cromwell, aware that the corsairs were crippling his South West ports and drastically raising insurance costs for the entire merchant fleet, decreed that any Arab taken in those waters should be taken to Bristol and slowly drowned. He commissioned Robert Blake and William Penn, both of solid Westcountry stock, to clear the corsairs off Lundy Island, which they had made their operations base. They bombarded the makeshift enemy stronghold and those not killed or captured fled back to Barbary.

Penn was paid privately by Bristol merchants to clear the Severn. Ironically, he had previously turned to piracy himself when he and his brother were refused trade permits by the Bristol cartel, and had done much business with the corsairs.

Despite the Lundy setback, the corsairs continued to mount raids on the coastal towns and villages in Cornwall, Devon, Dorset. Unless they were lucky enough or rich enough to be ransomed – and few Westcountry captives were well-connected – the slaves faced a grim future which made death welcome.

When they were not doing hard manual labour on land, the male captives manned the oars of galleys, in some cases for up to 19 years. Rowers were shackled where they sat, and never allowed to leave. Sleeping, eating, defecation and urination took place at the seat. Overseers would crack the whip over the bare backs of any slaves considered not to be working hard enough.

The Englishman Francis Knight recalled his enforced service, shackled to the oars for up to 20 hours a day: “Not having so much room as to stretch legs. The stroke regular and punctual, their heads shaved unto the skull, their bodies all naked, only a short linen pair of breeches to cover their privities … all their bodies pearled with a bloody sweat.”

The European nations fought back and in 1675 a Royal Navy squadron led by Sir John Narborough negotiated a lasting peace with Tunis and, after bombarding the city to induce compliance, with Tripoli. Algiers was frequently bombarded by the French, Spanish and, in the early 19th century, the Americans. After another British-led attack in 1816 more than 4,000 Christian slaves were released and the power of the Barbary pirates was shattered by Western seapower.

Fortress Britain – All the Invasions and Incursions since 1066, by Ian Hernon, is published by The History Press, priced £14.99.


24 thoughts on “How Muslims Attacked & Terrorized Britain For 300 Years”

  1. Yes, I’ve encountered people who don’t or won’t believe it, particularly the estimate that 1 million Europeans were enslaved by North African pirates. I can only remember one occasion on the MSM when it was reported that Europeans were, indeed, the victims of slavers, it was on the UK TV program “Coast”.

    The meme of the “West as the eternal predator” is very difficult to counter amongst the historically ignorant.

  2. Reblogged this on Latter Times News and commented:
    Islam- means submission to the will of Allah, and a Muslim is one who is submitted. While the world scrambles for peace, Muslims teach that it will only be possible when everyone is subject to Allah’s Islamic laws called Sharia. Be that as it may, Islam isn’t a religion. It is a fascist political Beast hiding behind a religious mask with the expressed goal of establishing a leader called a caliph who will rule the world by means of a centralized international caliphate. The final effort to force submission to the will of Allah is a holy war called Jihad which is already underway socially and politically through a kind of civilization jihad. In case you’re a Bible student taking notes from what you just read, please re-read Daniel 7-11 and Revelation 13-19 for a perfect illustration of the Islamic Beast now taking control of the world.

    How has this happened? Muslims simply follow Muhammad’s three-step pattern for integrating into a society and ultimately taking it over:

    (1) Immigrate peacefully, respectfully as a religion. Folks notice them and begin to say: “I met a Muslim and they’re nice. Let more in.” More come in and they (2) increase in numbers, become a community, get an Imam, build a mosque and begin teaching the Quran. Ladies start wearing the burqas, they begin loudspeaker calls to prayer up to five times per day where devout Muslims cascade out into the streets that are forcibly shut down for undetermined amounts of time. Since people can’t travel freely any longer- and since the police don’t dare disrupt their religious activities- they end up (3) eliminating the culture and taking over these neighborhoods. Soon Sharia replaces the Constitution and cops that once maintained order in those areas aren’t allowed in or are pelted with stones when answering a call. There are currently 751 “no go” zones in Paris where 5 million Muslims reside. Sadly, thanks to godless liberals, America is now following this same frightening pattern.

    The Islamic Beast is Rising (Psa 83; Ezek 38-39; Dan 7-12; Rev 11-19)!
    Dan 7:7 After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns.

    The end times are earmarked by several signs including danger, deception. The rise of Islam is quickly developing into the most dreadful yet deceptive enemy in the history of the world. As it continues to grow so does the decline of common sense in the West.

    What I find to be most deceptive, however, is how these throat slitting Mooslims – and they are all commanded in the Qu’ran to do this- have been cleverly couched as a radical minority in an otherwise peaceful “religion”. To those paying attention this came as no surprise; here are the exact words from Muslim Brotherhood founder Hasan al-Banna- who incidentally was a devout admirer of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis: “Jihad is an obligation from Allah on every Muslim and cannot be ignored nor evaded . . . It is the nature of Islam to dominate, not to be dominated, to impose its law on all nations and to extend its power to the entire planet.”

    Here are a few troublesome truths Islam defenders have been running from for years.

    Fact: The Muslim Brotherhood (which collaborated with Hitler to exterminate Jews) and the Arab spring- financed by Obama through American tax dollars- has not been the peaceful emergence we were promised. It has proven to be nothing less than the manifestation of the evil international caliphate under sharia law they promised to establish at their founding in 1928.

    Fact. Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Bahrain, and Syria are but a few of the examples of the Arab spring uprisings in the Arab world by demonstrators chanting Ash-sha`b yurid isqat an-nizam (“the people want to bring down the regime”).

    Fact: Islam has always been a savage Anti-Christ, Anti-Semitic, Fascist political Beast intent on international domination (caliphate) by jihad; the Mooslim mantra authorizing terrorism, bombing, throat slitting, torturing, raping, pillaging, sodomizing, beheading, and slaughtering un-submissive infidel victims- called kafirs- while labeling those who expose their cold-blooded activities as “Islamophobes.”

    Fact: Islam is EVIL. Along with destroying Israel and America, establishing an international caliphate under Sharia- by whatever means is necessary- is the number one stated goal for these savages. And it’s underway at this moment. In case you haven’t noticed- or have been lulled to sleep by Islamist propaganda- most of the violence around the world is Islam caliphate related. That being the case, many scholars now conclude- with whom I fully agree- that there are inescapable similarities between Islam and the last days Beast of Scripture (Dan 7-12; Rev 11-19). And yet, like the Germans and the church in 1930s that sat in silence as the Fuehrer began his maniacal march across Europe, the majority of Americans are facilitating Islam’s meteoric rise by their silence as well. This, I believe, is attributable to a well-orchestrated scheme involving spiritual deception, and political correctness all fostered by liberal co-conspirators like CAIR, the Muslim Brotherhood, who are desperate to convince the public that the majority of Mooslims are against terrorism; and that they are innocent victims of misunderstanding and bigotry; that they are actually god fearing members of a harmless Arabic faith system desiring to co-exist with their neighbors around the world. And this has become the insidious modus operandi for colonizing Mooslims in Europe, America, and all around the world.

    I challenge you to watch this carefully documented presentation by William Federer entitled What the West Needs to know about Islam explaining their history and current intentions- which are anything but peaceful or religious:

  3. Sadly, thanks to godless liberals, America is now following this same frightening pattern.

    Blaming the atheists is farfetched. I am an American atheist. I want the ideology criminalized and my country free of it. Their oaths of allegiance are insincere and invalidated by their “theology”. I want the mosques closed and I want the adherents expelled. I want the exclusion extended throughout the American hemisphere.

    Gullible religionists bear the blame for this nightmare, not the atheists. Atheists are the only ones thinking clearly.

    1. “Gullible religionists bear the blame for this nightmare, not the atheists. Atheists are the only ones thinking clearly.”

      Agreed, and I wouldn’t blame liberals either, creeping Islamisation is the product of the Multiculturalist ideology, which developed from cultural relativism, not liberalism or atheism. Multiculturalism is the natural state of liberal democracy, however once it’s transformed into an ideology and actively promoted it becomes toxic to liberal democracy. Those who apologize for the outrages committed by Moslems are not liberals, but “useful idiots”. Enlightenment liberals would not agree that the mantra of ‘religious freedom’ allows Moslems to subjugate women or violate the liberties of citizens in the name of some 7th century bandit.

      Those “gullible religionists” who are deluded into thinking that Islam is an ally in their resistance to secularisation will learn to their cost that Mohammed’s totalitarian psychopathic superstition is far more dangerous. Once the secular state is destroyed, other religious traditions and their believers will have no protection from Islam.

      Creeping Islamisation is the more dangerous threat to our civilisation, not terrorism which, in the long run, is obviously counter-productive.

      1. Well, “liberals” (in the American sense) always speak with a forked tongue. They represent neither legal nor economic freedom. They speak only in terms of the power of the State.

        So cultural relativism didn’t come out of the same addled skulls as (left-wing, Statist, American) “liberalism”? What a surprise!

        Go talk to some of your pals in the teaching profession, in the Dept of Homeland “security”, in the IRS, in the CIA, in……..

      2. “Well, “liberals” (in the American sense) always speak with a forked tongue. They represent neither legal nor economic freedom. They speak only in terms of the power of the State.”

        You’re really simply expressing your animosity to American “liberals” without explaining why they appear, in your opinion, to be so sinister. I’m not an American, so I was using a different definition of “liberal”.

        My bet is that cultural relativism, as a doctrine, is a product of post modernism and cultural anthropology.

    2. Oh, right. You want to ban all religion. I’m none too keen on it myself but, er…good luck with that one.

      Just because you know you are “right” doesn’t give you the power to decide what others believe, no matter how misguided it might seem. We don’t live in a Utopia where everyone will go along to get along.

      People are always going to quarrel. They will do so with greater force if you try to impose your minority viewpoint (“I want the ideology criminalized”).

      Can’t you understand the basic point that is being put forward here? That fundamentalists (of all creeds) should be told to get lost?

      1. Oh, right. You want to ban all religion.

        I’d like religion abandoned, actually. It is, in its persistence and ubiquity, testimony that the human species has no biological future, but I digress.

        As a practical matter, no, I advocate legal proscription of only one faith, the one devoted to bumping us off.

        What wholesome objective would they espouse, BTW, for maintaining what seems the world’s highest birthrate? I swear that if they could arrange it their women would be born pregnant to speed up the process. And the purpose of multiple marriage is to leave no womb unused.

      2. Well, it seems that some of us look for intellectual interchange. But others just want to taunt and insult. Welcome to cyberspace.

  4. I agree withTMI that Islam is a huge problem in the world, but this quote is very wrong, and smacks of the antisemitic notion that the Jews are the cause of all wars:

    “Muslims have always terrorized the world, always been the cause and reason for most battles and wars. ”

    If TMI wants to be taken seriously, it’s going to have to refrain from uttering obvious falsehoods like this.

    1. Jews are the cause of wars???? What?
      Nothing is falsehood. Islam is the cause of most wars in western history; from the middle ages onwards. Anyone can go through original historic records and see it with their own eyes.

      1. Are you serious? Islam doesn’t appear until ~8th-9th century, so absolutely no wars before that can be attributed to it. What can be said, for example, about the role that Islam played massive wars that went on,in Europe between Catholics, Lutherans and Calvinists? Basically nothing, as the issue was an internal European one.,

        “Jews are the cause of wars???? What?”
        Care to elaborate?

      2. You have not studied actual history. The majority of the West’s major wars and dramatic changes involves Islam. If there had been no Islam, the list of conflicts would have been considerably smaller. Even to this day nearly 90% of conflicts around the world involves Islam.

      3. The idea that Islam is the cause of “the West’s major wars and dramatic changes” the result of Islam is ludicrous. Still I’m glad that you said it. At least now I know that you are completely flippant and unserious about the truth.

        Were you planning on elaborating on your question/comment about the Jews and war? You can email me if you feel that you sing want to air your opinions on that subject on a public forum. I have a feeling that I already know what they are.

      4. Krishan Bhattacharya; you need to study history more carefully which you clearly have not. This is a blog that has provided statistics, details, references from history and resources again and again and again. Why not try and make some effort to search it. Did you even know before that Britain had a Muslim invasion problem for 300 years before seeing this article?
        We cannot keep searching each reference for every nutcase who wants to rewrite European history to suit their own agenda. There are over 1600 articles dealing with the subject of Islam on here. Some 80% of Europe’s conflicts involved Islam in some form or the other. The worse and most brutal battles have involved Muslim effort to invade Europe.


    I agree that there were massive European wars before Islam, the Punic Wars and the Greek-Persian conflict for example, they were, like the European-Moslem rivalry, wars for Western Civilization, however their duration was short compared to the 1400 years of Western resistance to Islam.

    In the absence of Moslem attacks the Roman Empire might have recovered, so instead of 1000 years of Moslem piracy and destruction the Mediterranean would have been a peaceful highway and the “Pax Romana” would have been restored. Even if Moslems weren’t the direct cause of all Europe’s wars after the 7th century, they certainly “set the stage”.

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