Slaves in Marseilles

This is another snippet from Thomas Platter’s Travels of 599. Before this young physician reached England he trained at several places in France and his home of Switzerland. He was fascinated by the slaves in Marseilles:

“They were fed on biscuit, a sort of hard thin bread of dirty corn, that had to be dipped in water for the teeth to penetrate them. Having meat once or twice per week, but their other food is ghastly. They are uniformly clad, their heads shaven to avoid vermin, and confined to the galleys day and night, winter and summer by rain, snow and heat. The galley is covered with a large tarpaulin at night and when this is removed in the morning, if the weather is good, it is a curious sight to se them busy at their various occupations. Some knit, some sew or fell wood, rub, scrape, scour, wash up the crocks. All are working for when they are at anchor and are not employed with cleaning the streets, squares or the port, they are free to pursue their own activities. when they row and if they are not doing so [by the whistle]  quickly enough, the cracks of the whip rain down upon their head and shoulders, drawing blood; often for an example a member is amputated.

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