Daniel Hershenzon

  • Fellowship year:2011-2012
  • University: University of Michigan
  • Dissertation Topic/Category: Early Modern Europe
  • Dissertation Title: Early Modern Spain and the Creation of the Mediterranean: Captivity, Commerce, and Knowledge
  •  This project examines how the "Mediterranean" was created and recreated throughout the seventeenth century through the interaction between cross-boundary maritime practices, on the one hand, and Spanish, Algerian, and Moroccan region-making projects, on the other.  Its point of departure is the 1581 Ottoman-Habsburg peace agreement, which transformed the nature of warfare in the Mediterranean, effectively making piracy more important than ever.  This increased the number of captives, and led to their more balanced and extended circulation over time and across space, making them instrumental in the production and circulation of knowledge across the sea.  The dissertation explores how captives engaged with social practices, which included the spread of rumors and news, the writing of letters of recommendation, the compiling of intelligence reports, and the sending of requests to their respective sovereigns.  The circulation of captives, the information they distributed, and their interactions with institutions such as the family, the Inquisition, the Maghribi and Spanish political bureaucracies meant that such institutions had a foothold on both sides of the Mediterranean.  The increase in the number of captives also enhanced the importance of the Trinitarians and the Mercedarians, religious orders charged with liberating captives from the Maghrib, and of small-scale networks of ransom, credit, and trust constituted by Jewish, Christian, and Muslim intermediaries.  The Spanish Monarch, the Moroccan Sultan, and Algerian Pashas tried to shape Mediterranean structures of mobility and forms of exchange according to their own competing political agendas, especially by regulating these ransom networks and institutions.  The region-making projects these sovereigns sought to impose, however, differed from how ransom go-betweens perceived Mediterranean mobility and exchange, and the sovereigns were forced to negotiate their plans with these intermediaries.