Sail the Caribbean in search of fame and fortune

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HISTORY

The buccaneers were active in the Carribean in the late seventeenth century and their legacy extended well into the 1700s. The original buccaneers were mostly French and were based in Hispaniola, where they caught wild cattle and smoked or dried the meat (called "boucan", hence "boucaniers" in French or "buccaneers" in English).

The golden age of the buccaneers was in the 1660s when the English were based in Port Royal in Jamaica and the French were based on the island of Tortuga. Henry Morgan led the buccaneers in attacks on ports and towns on the Spanish Main. Vast fortunes were made but the spree ended in 1671 when their leaders were recalled to England.

Gradually the English began to find the French were more of a threat than the Spanish and privateering commissions were no longer issued for attacks against the Spanish in the Caribbean.

Tortuga was cleared out by the Spanish many times, but was usually recaptured by the French within a few years and soon returned to old ways.

The old Port Royal was destroyed by an earthquake in 1692, and most trade in Jamaica shifted to Kingston under the close eye of the new colonial government.

The logwood cutters were cleared from the coast of central America by the Spanish in 1720. Over a thousand men were driven from the logwood trade - hard, rough men who had no other business or opportunies. The years that followed saw a huge rise in piracy. In this era the pirates worked mainly from bases in the Bahamas.

As the eighteenth century wore on it was no longer profitable to pursue the declining trade of the Spanish colonies, and wars were now carried on by regular navies. The Royal Navy asserted control in the Caribbean in favour of the West Indies merchants and soon chased the pirates from the seas.