Captives or crooks? Pirates, impostors, and Jewish communities in the eighteenth-century Ottoman Empire

Gürer Karagedikli*, Yaron Ben-Naeh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


In the present article, based on Ottoman and Hebrew documents, we focus on people who made up fictitious stories of captivity in order to gain a living, as well as on authorities or local Jewish communities that detected and coped with those frauds in the eighteenth-century Ottoman Empire. In detecting acts of fraud, a novel method adopted by Jewish communities during the period under study was printed letters that were not available to all segments of society. Considering the vigilance of Jewish communities to root out the ploys used by their co-religionists to acquire money through deceitful means, we suggest that those communities formulated some regulations in order to validate authenticity and differentiate between the true and the fake. We argue that an efficient web of networks among early modern Jewish communities in the Mediterranean and the use of the printing press played a crucial role in certifying the truthfulness of a document or a person.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-209
Number of pages21
JournalMediterranean Historical Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Jews
  • Ottoman Mediterranean
  • captives
  • identity
  • printing
  • ransom

RAMBI Publications

  • Rambi Publications
  • Jews -- Turkey -- History -- 18th century
  • Captivity -- Turkey -- History
  • Jewish communities -- Turkey -- History -- 18th century
  • Jews -- Turkey -- Identity -- History -- 18th century


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