Inhabitants of Europe and the greater Mediterranean basin faced many challenges at the start of the early modern period. As Christian Europeans grew increasingly intolerant of religious diversity, religious wars ravaged the region. Coupled with those wars were economic, cultural, and climatic issues that formed the basis of what was known as the seventeenth-century crisis. While the crisis led to many hardships and challenges, Europe emerged with advances in science, economy, and government that served to set the foundation for Europeans moving forward. At the same time, the Ottoman Empire was expanding and starting to look to the sea to extend their conquests. Although the Ottoman state proved to be one of the most durable in world history, constant military engagements and crushing expenditures prevented the empire from really challenging Europe. While political centralization was taking shape and expanding in these regions, some groups, such as the Barbary pirates examined in the Counterpoint of this chapter, were able to thrive in a more decentralized, yet independent manner.