chapter  11
18 Pages

Pirates as marginals in the medieval Mediterranean world

WithKathryn Reyerson

This chapter invites the reader to consider marginality as a transitional state. Rather than being a fixed occupational category, piracy was but a temporary identity. “Pirates” tended to be periodically reintegrated into mainstream society. Therefore, engaging in disreputable and dishonorable piratical acts did not permanently mark someone as irredeemably marginal. In particular, in a discussion of letter of marque proceedings, the picture of whether pirates were marginal is complicated by the question of who, in actuality, was “marginalized” in retribution for piratical activity. The “pirates” themselves often evaded punishment for their crimes and, instead, “innocent,” non-offending compatriot merchants paid the price.