Piracy in the Caribbean

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For the movie, see Pirates of the Caribbean.

A pirate with a blunderbuss.
Pirates were the terror of the Caribbean Sea.

Piracy in the Caribbean was the terror of the Caribbean Sea, especially to the Spanish navy that controlled those seas. The English had defeated the Spanish Armada in 1588, which stopped the Spanish control of the oceans. However, the Spanish still controlled the Caribbean.

In the 1770s, the English used pirates to help their government.[1] By doing harm to the Spanish navy and export, the English hoped to get more land in the New World and stop the Spanish from controlling the New World trade. They did get what they wanted, but made a new problem.

Pirates, when they captured prisoners, did not usually have mercy on them.

Sir Henry Morgan was one well-known pirate who was encouraged by the English government.[1] He worked for the government, but he kept the money.[1] As time went on, though, Morgan stopped working for the government and began working to get money only for himself. He and other pirates soon began attacking any trading ship, even if it was an English ship.[1]

Morgan and his helpers called themselves the Brethren.[1] They wore rough shirts, knee-long pants, felt hats, and leather belts. On their belts, they hung gunpowder flasks, butcher's knives, and blunderbusses (short muskets.) They had a "pirate code" which said each man had the right to vote on all things, like choosing a captain or the next ship to attack.[1]

The Spanish Amaro Pargo also stands out, who frequently traded in the Caribbean while looting ships of the enemy powers of the Spanish Crown that he encountered on the way. Amaro Pargo lived for ten years in the Caribbean, specifically on the island of Cuba where he had descendants.

Reasons for piracy[change | change source]

The pirates easily found new members. Seamen in naval services often lived much harder lives than pirates. They could be punished cruelly by people higher than them, did not have good food to eat, and were paid only a little money.[1] The pirates offered equality, good food (when it was there), and a chance to become rich.

Pirate life[change | change source]

A marooned man waiting to be saved...or die.
Pirates often left the people they captured on desert islands to starve to death.

However, pirates were little better. The commanders of trading ships were terrified at seeing pirate ships, because pirates had little mercy on the people they captured.[source?] They shot them, beat them to death, tortured them, or marooned them on desert islands.[source?] Pirates were not very kind to each other, either.[source?] Even though they had a "pirate law", they argued with each other, and members could receive the same punishment as their enemies.

Life on a pirate ship was very hard. There was never a dry place to sleep;[1] bathing was very rare; food was often bad;[1] and danger was expected. Many pirates had missing arms or legs after bloody sea battles. Even pirates who finally became rich still risked being hanged if they were caught.

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 Koontz, Terri; Mark Sidwell, and S.M. Bunker (June 2005). World Studies for Christian Schools. Greenville, South Carolina: Bob Jones University Press. ISBN 1-59166-431-4.

Other websites[change | change source]