This is a little outside my area of expertise but it sounds rather
questionable. The Barbary pirates were active from the end of the 15th
Century (following the conquest of Granada), but were at their peak in
the in the Mediterranean during the 16th and 17th. Giles Milton's
latest book covers this sort of activity in the 18th Century. The
mid-14th Century sounds a little early. Is the hero captured in the
Med (sailing from Marseille, perhaps)? That might be more plausible
than if he were sailing from, say, Calais.
"Al-ifranj" was the Arabic term for European (distinct from "Al-rum"
which was used to describe the Byzantines). It is cognate with "Frank"
and does not mean "fighting pit", but something-or-other al-ifranj
might be used for the foreign quarter of a city or possibly any other
sort of facility specifically for foreigners.
Hope that this helps.
J Dixon wrote:
> Can anyone help me? I am currently editing a manuscript set in the
> mid-fourteenth century, in which the hero is captured 'by an Egyptian
> captain' on his way back from France to Scotland (this seems unlikely to me)
> and then put inthe 'ifranj' - 'fighting pits' - in Alexandria where he is
> forced to fight and kill other Christians by the 'sultan Mohammed ibn
> Is this historically viable do you know?
> With thanks for any information