TheLand Hath Too Little Ground: Danseker the Dutchman
Theland hath too little ground is an excerpt from ‘Piratesof Barbary: Corsairs, conquests, and captivity in theseventeenth-century Mediterranean by Adrian Tinniswood. The excerpt’smain idea is therise and fall of Simon Danseker the Devil Captain that was moretheatrical, more magic, than the careers of most Barbary CoastRenegades. It tended to be squalid, fragmentary or both. Hisadherence to a moral code of sorts, his refusal to renounceChristendom, his return to the European fold and the manner of hisdeath in the hands of the Turks that gave commentators a licence toadmire him (Tinniswood64).
Danseker,a famous Dutch Renegade was a pirate in Barbary and the youngest ofall pirates (Tinniswood57). He had turned to be a pirate after the death of his father at ayoung age. However, he was a very considerate pirate. He wasconsiderate on Mariners as he would not attack them (Tinniswood54). On one occasion, he let the Banister and his team walk away whenthey told him that they had been attacked by French pirate. He wasvery considerate, and he would not attack those that had beenassaulted before. He was however not alone, since there were otherpirates (Tinniswood57). They used to attackships, enslave crews, plunder cargoes, enrage governments, and swayempires. His love and commitment to Christianity was further provedwhen he negotiated for the freedom of some Christians who had beencaptured into slavery(Tinniswood62)
Corsairswho sailed Algiers had learnt a pidgin that they used forcommunication. The pidgin was a mixture of many languages includingFrench and Italian among others. The language served theircommunication interests, and the communication barrier was minimized.The language later developed to a lingua franca.
Dansekermust have accumulated enough wealth by 1609. He wanted to reconcilewith the Europeans and retire from sea raiding (Tinniswood61). Some Europeans, however, set to clear pirates in theMediterranean Sea. It was a threat to all pirates Danseker and Wardincluded. One of ex-English privateer told them not to side with theTurks, but they felt safer with them. Simon stopped pirating and evenkilled some of his comrades. H e later settled with his family.
1610was the peak of the rise of Danseker. There was the realization thatDanseker had a great knowledge of the sea and would help themerchants of Marseilles, who had lost much of their wealth(Tinniswood63). He prepared a crew that helped these merchants in theirtransportation of their good. Though there was a rumour that he haddied, he came back safely. He had succeeded in his task though hefaced many challenges.
In1614, Louis (Xiii) asked Danseker one last favour, hardly did he knowthat it was the beginning of his fall and his doom (Tinniswood64). That he would negotiate with Yusuf Dey for the release of theFrench vessels that had been captured. Dey went to meet Danseker, andthey agreed. They celebrated together as the vessels were already setaside for release. After the negotiations, he invited Danseker for adinner. The dinner turned to be the end of Danseker as he waseventually killed and his corpse thrown away (Tinniswood65). The Turks, whom he felt safe with, killed him.
Inconclusion, Danseker was one of the exceptional pirates in theseventeenth century. He was a pirate who was filled with humanity.The sea sailing earned him some wealth and favour in the governmentthat he raised to work with the government. He also made friendshipwith the Turks who later betrayed him and killed him. Through hisevil deeds and humanity, he remained a hero among many who admiredhim.
Tinniswood,Adrian Pirates of Barbary: corsairs, conquests, and captivity in theseventeenth-century Mediterranean. FromClass Reading