5 years ago

The Pirates Revolution - The golden age of buccaneers

Ancient Mysteries
The era of piracy in the Caribbean began in the 1500s and phased out in the 1830s after the navies of the nations of Western Europe and North America with colonies in the Caribbean began combating pirates. The period during which pirates were most successful was from the 1660s to 1730s. Piracy flourished in the Caribbean because of the existence of pirate seaports such as Port Royal in Jamaica, Tortuga in Haiti, and Nassau in the Bahamas. In the early 17th century, expensive fortifications and the size of the colonial garrisons at the major Spanish ports increased to deal with the enlarged presence of Spain's competitors in the Caribbean, but the treasure fleet's silver shipments and the number of Spanish-owned merchant ships operating in the region declined. Additional problems came from shortage of food supplies because of the lack of people to work farms. The number of European-born Spaniards in the New World or Spaniards of pure blood who had been born in New Spain, known as peninsulares and creoles, respectively, in the Spanish caste system, totaled no more than 250,000 people in 1600.

At the same time, England and France were powers on the rise in 17th-century Europe as they mastered their own internal religious schisms between Catholic and Protestant and the resulting societal peace allowed their economies to rapidly expand. England especially began to turn its people's maritime skills into the basis of commercial prosperity. English and French kings of the early 17th century—James I (r. 1603–1625) and Henry IV (r. 1598–1610), respectively, each sought more peaceful relations with Habsburg Spain in an attempt to decrease the financial costs of the ongoing wars. Although the onset of peace in 1604 reduced the opportunities for both piracy and privateering against Spain's colonies, neither monarch discouraged his nation from trying to plant new colonies in the New World and break the Spanish monopoly on the Western Hemisphere. The reputed riches, pleasant climate and the general emptiness of the Americas all beckoned to those eager to make their fortunes and a large assortment of Frenchmen and Englishmen began new colonial ventures during the early 17th century, both in North America, which lay basically empty of European settlement north of Mexico, and in the Caribbean, where Spain remained the dominant power until late in the century.

As for the Dutch Netherlands, after decades of rebellion against Spain fueled by both Dutch nationalism and their staunch Protestantism, independence had been gained in all but name (and that too would eventually come with the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648). The Netherlands had become Europe's economic powerhouse. With new, innovative ship designs like the fluyt (a cargo vessel able to be operated with a small crew and enter relatively inaccessible ports) rolling out of the ship yards in Amsterdam and Rotterdam, new capitalist economic arrangements like the joint-stock company taking root and