Bagnio

Bagnio

[ban-yoh, bahn-]
Bagnios were the slave prisons of Turkey and the Barbary regencies. In the Barbary prisons, the hostages of the pirates spent their evenings there, leaving during the day to work as laborers, galley slaves, or domestic servants. The term was originally used for a bath or bathing-house (Italian bagno, Spanish baño) in Istanbul, near which the prison for hostages was. Bagne became the French word for the prisons of the galley slaves in the French Navy. The last one in European France (Toulon) was closed in 1873.

The communication between master and slave and between slaves of different origins was made in Lingua Franca (also known as Sabir), a Mediterranean pidgin with Romance and Arabic lexicon.

In England, it was originally used to name coffee houses which offered Turkish baths, but by 1740 it signified a place where rooms could be provided for the night with no questions asked, later a house of prostitution.

In fiction

Los tratos de Argel ("The trades of Algiers", 1580),Los baños de Argel ("The Bagnios of Algiers", 1615), El gallardo español ("The Gallard Spaniard", 1615) and La gran sultana ("The great sultaness", 1615) were four comedies by Miguel de Cervantes about the life of the caitiffs. Cervantes himself had been imprisoned in Algiers (1575-1580). His Don Quixote also features a subplot with the story of a caitiff (chapters 39-41 of the first part).

References

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