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..."

1 comment:

Major Wittering said...


The tone of this writing is spot on - I love the detail and the language, and am looking forward to seeing the odd figure/battle/ship in your Dey to Dey reporting.