Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Notes upon the Divan of Driss Dey

[Ed. Note: The followng extracts are taken from the notes of Lady Belladonna Codswallop, touring the Mediterranean with her husband, lately ambassador from the Court of St. James to the Sublime Porte.]

"Soon after day-break I arrived at Bizercca, a town fairly built of very white stone, but quite without gardens, which, they say, were all destroyed when the Turks first took it, none having been planted since. The dry land gives a very disagreeable prospect to the eye; and the want of shade contributing to the natural heat of the climate, renders it so excessive, that I have much ado to support it. 'Tis true, here is, every noon, the refreshment of the sea-breeze, without which it would be impossible to live; but no fresh water but what is preserved in the cisterns of the rains that fall in the month of September. The women of the town go veiled from head to foot under a black crape, and being mixed with a breed of renegadoes, are said to be many of them fair and handsome.

"This city was besieged in 1270, by Lewis king of Gallia, who died under the walls of it, of a pestilential fever. After his death, Philip, his son, and our prince Edward, son of Henry III. raised the siege on honourable terms. It remained under its natural African kings, till betrayed into the hands of Barbarossa, admiral of Solyman the Magnificent. The emperor Charles V. expelled Barbarossa, but it was recovered by the Turk, under the conduct of Sinan Bassa, in the reign of Selim II.

"From that time till now, it has remained tributary to the grand signior, governed by the Dey, who suffers the name of subject to the Turk, but has renounced the subjection, being absolute, and very seldom paying any tribute. Subsidiary to the Dey are the courts of the various Barbary Princes: Monopoli, lord of the Gulf of Scidra and Monopolimania; Punis, near to the ruins of classical Cartage; and Orangiers, site of the famed kohl and gum bazaars of Mascara. In addition, one must consider in this constellation the self-styled Khalifa of Mooerisco, of the Iblisid dynasty, which, while no longer tributary of the Dey, vies often to extend its claims past Orangiers and to ply the same piratical trade in the surrounding seas..."

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Dey of Bizercca

The Barbary Coast harbours all manner of pirate lords and scheming potentates, but among the most notorious of the commanders of raider fleets must stand Emir Driss Khal-al-Waw Dey, pretender to the fallen caliphate of Scandalusia and terror of the Sicilies, Sardinea, Corseta and the other isles of the western Mediterranean. From his impregnable home port of Bizercca, his corsairs sail throughout the Mediterranean and past the Straits of Gibraltar into the north Atlantic beyond.

Playing Gallia, Hispania, Britannia and the Sublime Porte itself against each other for his own ends, the Dey plots tirelessly to thwart the pretensions of his Barbary and Corsetan rivals, regain the lost throne of his family in Iberia and even, in his private moments in his seraglio, dreams of restoring the western Caliphate to the promise of its mediaeval glories.