“There’s been an assumption that any person who stepped foot on French territory in the metropole went free. In fact, enslaved Turks did not go free; they often spent their entire lifetime in servitude.”
Since the Middle Ages, France’s legal tradition as a “Free Soil” state meant that any enslaved person who stepped foot in Continental France would be freed. This led to the widespread misconception that there were no slaves in France after the 14th century. However, galley slavery was still a common and even glorified practice centuries later during the reign of Louis XIV. These people, called turcs or Turks, were often Muslim men who had been captured or purchased. Representations of galley slaves adorned paintings, artillery, medals, and other objects, and were used to express the king’s power.
In this episode, art historian Meredith Martin and historian Gillian Weiss discuss their multidisciplinary study of 17th-century galley slavery and its depictions under Louis XIV. They are authors of the recent book The Sun King at Sea: Maritime Art and Galley Slavery in Louis XIV’s France from Getty Publications.
For images, transcripts, and more, visit https://blogs.getty.edu/iris/podcast-galley-slavery-in-17th-century-france/ or http://www.getty.edu/podcasts
To buy the book he Sun King at Sea: Maritime Art and Galley Slavery in Louis XIV’s France, visit https://shop.getty.edu/products/the-sun-king-at-sea-maritime-art-and-galley-slavery-in-louis-xiv-s-france-978-1606067307