Avast, me swabbie collectors o’ ye olde stamped paper booty! All landlubbers be tryin t’ speak like swashbucklers ever’ voyage on th’ 19th o’ Septembree on accoun’ o’ ’tis International Talk Like A Pirate Day. Aye, you buccaneers, pour a mug o’ grog an’ listen t’ me story o’ th’ history o’ ye sweet trade while gettin’ loaded t’ th’ gunwhales! I be singin’ a chanty to me hearties before long, me self! Fair winds an’ God’s speed then t’ ye olde collectors o’ stamped paper findin’ safe haven for thar loot.
What be a pirate? Savvy yonder and Cap’n Stampy be tellin’ ye:
The English word “pirate” is derived from the Latin term pirata (“sailor, corsair, sea robber”) and that from Greek πειρατής (peiratēs), literally “one who attacks (ships)”. Spelling was not standardized until the eighteenth century, and spellings such as “pirrot”, “pyrate” and “pyrat” were used until this period. Piracy is an act of robbery or criminal violence by ship- or boat-borne attackers upon another ship or a coastal area, typically with the goal of stealing cargo and other valuable items or properties. Those who engage in acts of piracy are called pirates. It’s reasonable to assume that piracy has existed for as long as the oceans were plied for commerce. The earliest documented instances of piracy were in the fourteenth century B.C., when the Sea Peoples, a group of ocean raiders, attacked the ships of the Aegean and Mediterranean civilizations.
Narrow channels which funnel shipping into predictable routes have long created opportunities for piracy, as well as for privateering and commerce raiding. Historic examples include the waters of Gibraltar, the Strait of Malacca, Madagascar, the Gulf of Aden, and the English Channel, whose geographic strictures facilitated pirate attacks. A land-based parallel is the ambushing of travelers by bandits and brigands in highways and mountain passes. Privateering uses similar methods to piracy, but the captain acts under orders of the state authorizing the capture of merchant ships belonging to an enemy nation, making it a legitimate form of war-like activity.
The most widely known and far-reaching pirates in medieval Europe were the Vikings, seaborne warriors from Scandinavia who raided and looted mainly between the eighth and twelfth centuries. They raided the coasts, rivers and inland cities throughout western Europe as far as Seville, which was attacked by the Norse in 844. Vikings also attacked the coasts of North Africa and Italy and plundered the coasts of the Baltic Sea. Some Vikings ascended the rivers of eastern Europe as far as the Black Sea and Persia.
Toward the end of the ninth century, Moorish pirate havens were established along the coast of southern France and northern Italy. In 846, Moor raiders sacked the extra muros Basilicas of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in Rome. In 911, the bishop of Narbonne was unable to return to France from Rome because the Moors from Fraxinet controlled all the passes in the Alps. Moor pirates operated out of the Balearic Islands in the tenth century. From 824 to 961, Arab pirates in the Emirate of Crete raided the entire Mediterranean. In the fouteenth century, raids by Moor pirates forced the Venetian Duke of Crete to ask Venice to keep its fleet on constant guard.
After the Slavic invasions of the former Roman province of Dalmatia in the fifth and sixth centuries, a tribe called the Narentines revived the old Illyrian piratical habits and often raided the Adriatic Sea starting in the seventh century. By 642, they had invaded southern Italy and assaulted Siponto. Their raids in the Adriatic increased rapidly, until the whole Sea was no longer safe for travel. The Narentines took more liberties in their raiding quests while the Venetian Navy was abroad, as when it was campaigning in Sicilian waters in 827–882. As soon as the Venetian fleet would return to the Adriatic, the Narentines temporarily abandoned their habits, even signing a Treaty in Venice and baptizing their Slavic pagan leader into Christianity. In 834 or 835 they broke the treaty and again they raided Venetian traders returning from Benevento, and all of Venice’s military attempts to punish them in 839 and 840 failed. In 846, the Narentines broke through to Venice itself and raided its lagoon city of Caorle. In the middle of March 870 they kidnapped the Roman Bishop’s emissaries that were returning from the Ecclesiastical Council in Constantinople. This caused a Byzantine military action against them that finally brought Christianity to them. After the Arab raids on the Adriatic coast circa 872 and the retreat of the Imperial Navy, the Narentines continued their raids of Venetian waters, causing new conflicts with the Italians in 887–888. The Venetians futilely continued to fight them throughout the tenth and eleventh centuries.
In 937, Irish pirates sided with the Scots, Vikings, Picts, and Welsh in their invasion of England. Slavic piracy in the Baltic Sea ended with the Danish conquest of the Rani stronghold of Arkona in 1168. In the twelfth century the coasts of western Scandinavia were plundered by Curonians and Oeselians from the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea. In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, pirates threatened the Hanseatic routes and nearly brought sea trade to the brink of extinction. Until about 1440, maritime trade in both the North Sea and the Baltic Sea was seriously in danger of attack by the pirates.
Zaporizhian Sich was a pirate republic in Europe from the sixteenth through to the eighteenth century. Situated in Cossack territory in the remote steppe of Eastern Europe, it was populated with Ukrainian peasants that had run away from their feudal masters, outlaws, destitute gentry, run-away slaves from Turkish galleys, etc. The remoteness of the place and the rapids at the Dnepr river effectively guarded the place from invasions of vengeful powers. The main target of the inhabitants of Zaporizhian Sich who called themselves “Cossacks” were rich settlements at the Black Sea shores of Ottoman Empire and Crimean Khanate. By 1615 and 1625, Zaporozhian Cossacks had even managed to raze townships on the outskirts of Istanbul, forcing the Ottoman Sultan to flee his palace. Don Cossacks under Stenka Razin even ravaged the Persian coasts.
Though less famous and romanticized than Atlantic or Caribbean pirates, corsairs in the Mediterranean equaled or outnumbered the former at any given point in history. Mediterranean piracy was conducted almost entirely with galleys until the mid-seventeenth century, when they were gradually replaced with highly maneuverable sailing vessels such as xebecs and brigantines. They were, however, of a smaller type than battle galleys, often referred to as galiots or fustas. Pirate galleys were small, nimble, lightly armed, but often heavily manned in order to overwhelm the often minimal crews of merchant ships. In general, pirate craft were extremely difficult for patrolling craft to actually hunt down and capture. Using oared vessels to combat pirates was common, and was even practiced by the major powers in the Caribbean. Purpose-built galleys (or hybrid sailing vessels) were built by the English in Jamaica in 1683 and by the Spanish in the late 16th century. Specially-built sailing frigates with oar-ports on the lower decks, like the James Galley and Charles Galley, and oar-equipped sloops proved highly useful for pirate hunting, though they were not built in sufficient numbers to check piracy until the 1720s.
The expansion of Muslim power through the Ottoman conquest of large parts of the eastern Mediterranean in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries resulted in extensive piracy on sea trading. The so-called Barbary corsairs began to operate out of North African ports in Algiers, Tunis, Tripoli, Morocco and Morea (modern-day Greece) around 1500, preying primarily on the shipping of Christian powers, including massive slave raids at sea as well as on land. The Barbary corsairs were nominally under Ottoman suzerainty, but had considerable independence to prey on the enemies of Islam. The Muslim corsairs were technically often privateers with support from legitimate, though highly belligerent, states. They considered themselves as holy Muslim warriors, or ghazis, carrying on the tradition of fighting the incursion of Western Christians that had begun with the First Crusade late in the eleventh century.
Coastal villages and towns of Italy, Spain and islands in the Mediterranean were frequently attacked by Muslim corsairs and long stretches of the Italian and Spanish coasts were almost completely abandoned by their inhabitants; after 1600 the Barbary corsairs occasionally entered the Atlantic and struck as far north as Iceland. Between 1 million and 1.25 million Europeans were captured by Barbary corsairs and sold as slaves in North Africa and the Ottoman Empire between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries. A few Barbary corsairs were renegade European privateers who had converted to Islam.
Piracy off the Barbary coast was often assisted by competition among European powers in the seventeenth century. France encouraged the corsairs against Spain, and later Britain and Holland supported them against France. However, by the second half of the seventeenth century the greater European naval powers began to initiate reprisals to intimidate the Barbary States into making peace with them. The most successful of the Christian states in dealing with the corsair threat was England. From the 1630s onwards England had signed peace treaties with the Barbary States on various occasions, but invariably breaches of these agreements led to renewed wars. A particular bone of contention was the tendency of foreign ships to pose as English to avoid attack. However, growing English naval power and increasingly persistent operations against the corsairs proved increasingly costly for the Barbary States. During the reign of Charles II a series of English expeditions won victories over raiding squadrons and mounted attacks on their home ports which permanently ended the Barbary threat to English shipping. In 1675 a bombardment from a Royal Navy squadron led by Sir John Narborough and further defeats at the hands of a squadron under Arthur Herbert negotiated a lasting peace (until 1816) with Tunis and Tripoli.
France, which had recently emerged as a leading naval power, achieved comparable success soon afterwards, with bombardments of Algiers in 1682, 1683 and 1688 securing a lasting peace, while Tripoli was similarly coerced in 1686. In 1783 and 1784 the Spaniards also bombarded Algiers in an effort to stem the piracy. The second time, Admiral Barceló damaged the city so severely that the Algerian Dey asked Spain to negotiate a peace treaty and from then on Spanish vessels and coasts were safe for several years.
Until the American Declaration of Independence in 1776, British treaties with the North African states protected American ships from the Barbary corsairs. Morocco, which in 1777 was the first independent nation to publicly recognize the United States, became in 1784 the first Barbary power to seize an American vessel after independence. While the United States managed to secure peace treaties, these obliged it to pay tribute for protection from attack. Payments in ransom and tribute to the Barbary states amounted to 20% of United States government annual expenditures in 1800, leading to the Barbary Wars that ended the payment of tribute. However, Algiers broke the 1805 peace treaty after only two years, and subsequently refused to implement the 1815 treaty until compelled to do so by Britain in 1816.
The classic era of piracy in the Caribbean lasted from circa 1650 until the mid-1720s. By 1650, France, England and the United Provinces began to develop their colonial empires. This involved considerable seaborne trade, and a general economic improvement: there was money to be made — or stolen — and much of it traveled by ship. French buccaneers were established on northern Hispaniola as early as 1625, but lived at first mostly as hunters rather than robbers; their transition to full-time piracy was gradual and motivated in part by Spanish efforts to wipe out both the buccaneers and the prey animals on which they depended. The buccaneers’ migration from Hispaniola’s mainland to the more defensible offshore island of Tortuga limited their resources and accelerated their piratical raids.
The growth of buccaneering on Tortuga was augmented by the English capture of Jamaica from Spain in 1655. The early English governors of Jamaica freely granted letters of marque to Tortuga buccaneers and to their own countrymen, while the growth of Port Royal provided these raiders with a far more profitable and enjoyable place to sell their booty. In the 1660s, the new French governor of Tortuga, Bertrand d’Ogeron, similarly provided privateering commissions both to his own colonists and to English cutthroats from Port Royal. These conditions brought Caribbean buccaneering to its zenith.
A new phase of piracy began in the 1690s as English pirates began to look beyond the Caribbean for treasure. The fall of Britain’s Stuart kings had restored the traditional enmity between Britain and France, thus ending the profitable collaboration between English Jamaica and French Tortuga. The devastation of Port Royal by an earthquake in 1692 further reduced the Caribbean’s attractions by destroying the pirates’ chief market for fenced plunder. Caribbean colonial governors began to discard the traditional policy of “no peace beyond the Line,” under which it was understood that war would continue (and thus letters of marque would be granted) in the Caribbean regardless of peace treaties signed in Europe; henceforth, commissions would be granted only in wartime, and their limitations would be strictly enforced. Furthermore, much of the Spanish Main had simply been exhausted; Maracaibo alone had been sacked three times between 1667 and 1678, while Río de la Hacha had been raided five times and Tolú eight.
At the same time, England’s less favored colonies, including Bermuda, New York, and Rhode Island, had become cash-starved by the Navigation Acts, which restricted trade with foreign ships. Merchants and governors eager for coin were willing to overlook and even underwrite pirate voyages; one colonial official defended a pirate because he thought it “very harsh to hang people that brings in gold to these provinces.” Although some of these pirates operating out of New England and the Middle Colonies targeted Spain’s remoter Pacific coast colonies well into the 1690s and beyond, the Indian Ocean was a richer and more tempting target. India’s economic output was large during this time, especially in high-value luxury goods like silk and calico which made ideal pirate booty; at the same time, no powerful navies plied the Indian Ocean, leaving both local shipping and the various East India companies’ vessels vulnerable to attack.
Between 1713 and 1714, a succession of peace treaties was signed which ended the War of the Spanish Succession. With the end of this conflict, thousands of seamen, including Britain’s paramilitary privateers, were relieved of military duty. The result was a large number of trained, idle sailors at a time when the cross-Atlantic colonial shipping trade was beginning to boom. In addition, Europeans who had been pushed by unemployment to become sailors and soldiers involved in slaving were often enthusiastic to abandon that profession and turn to pirating, giving pirate captains for many years a constant pool of trained European recruits to be found in west African waters and coasts.
In 1715, pirates launched a major raid on Spanish divers trying to recover gold from a sunken treasure galleon near Florida. The attack was successful, but contrary to their expectations, the governor of Jamaica refused to the pirates to spend their loot on his island. With Kingston and the declining Port Royal closed to them, the group founded a new pirate base at Nassau, on the island of New Providence in the Bahamas, which had been abandoned during the war. Until the arrival of governor Woodes Rogers three years later, Nassau would be home for these pirates and their many recruits.
As part of the peace settlement of the War of the Spanish succession, Britain obtained the asiento, a Spanish government contract, to supply slaves to Spain’s new world colonies, providing British traders and smugglers more access to the traditionally closed Spanish markets in America. This arrangement also contributed heavily to the spread of piracy across the western Atlantic at this time. Shipping to the colonies boomed simultaneously with the flood of skilled mariners after the war. Merchant shippers used the surplus of sailors’ labor to drive wages down, cutting corners to maximize their profits, and creating unsavory conditions aboard their vessels. Merchant sailors suffered from mortality rates as high or higher than the slaves being transported. Living conditions were so poor that many sailors began to prefer a freer existence as a pirate. The increased volume of shipping traffic also could sustain a large body of brigands preying upon it. Among the most infamous Caribbean pirates of the time, was Edward Teach or Blackbeard, Calico Jack Rackham and Bartholomew Roberts. Most of these pirates were eventually hunted down by the Royal Navy and killed or captured; several battles were fought between the brigands and the colonial powers on both land and sea.
Piracy in the Caribbean declined for the next several decades after 1730, but by the 1810s piracy along the East and Gulf Coasts of North America as well as in the Caribbean increased again. Jean Lafitte was just one of hundreds of pirates operating in American and Caribbean waters between the years of 1820 and 1835. The most successful pirates of the era were Lafitte and Roberto Cofresi. Jean Lafitte is considered by many to be the last buccaneer due to his army of pirates and fleet of pirate ships which held bases in and around the Gulf of Mexico. He and his men participated in the War of 1812 battle of New Orleans. Cofresi’s base was in Mona Island, Puerto Rico, from where he disrupted the commerce throughout the region. He became the last major target of the international anti-piracy operations.
The United States Navy repeatedly engaged pirates in the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico and in the Mediterranean. Cofresí’s El Mosquito was disabled in a collaboration between Spain and the United States. After fleeing for hours, he was ambushed and captured inland. The United States landed shore parties on several islands in the Caribbean in pursuit of pirates; Cuba was a major haven. By the 1830s piracy had died out again, and the navies of the region focused on the slave trade.
About the time of the Mexican–American War in 1846, the United States Navy had grown strong and numerous enough to eliminate the pirate threat in the West Indies. By the 1830s, ships had begun to convert to steam propulsion, so the Age of Sail and the classical idea of pirates in the Caribbean ended. Privateering, similar to piracy, continued as an asset in war for a few more decades and proved to be of some importance during the naval campaigns of the American Civil War. Privateering would remain a tool of European states until the mid-nineteenth century’s Declaration of Paris. But letters of marque were given out much more sparingly by governments and were terminated as soon as conflicts ended. The idea of “no peace beyond the Line” was a relic that had no meaning by the more settled late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.
Today, pirates armed with automatic weapons and rocket propelled grenades use small motorboats to attack and board ships, a tactic that takes advantage of the small number of crew members on modern cargo vessels and transport ships. They also use larger vessels, known as “mother ships”, to supply the smaller motorboats. The international community is facing many challenges in bringing modern pirates to justice, as these attacks often occur in international waters. In the 2000s, a number of nations have used their naval forces to protect private ships from pirate attacks and pursue pirates. As well, some private vessels are taking steps to defend their vessels and their crews from piracy, such as using armed security guards, high-pressure hoses or sound cannons to repel boarders, or using radar to avoid potential threats.
Scott #206 is the lowest denomination in a set of 17 stamps issued by the Leeward Islands dual-island nation of St. Kitts-Nevis on February 1, 1970 (Scott #206-222), celebrating late seventeenth and early eighteenth nautical lore with a heavy piracy theme. Stamps were inscribed St. Christopher-Nevis-Anguilla from 1952 until mid-1980, and either St. Kitts or Nevis thereafter. The ½ cent portrays pirates burying treasure in Frigate Bay which is actually two bays close together on the island of St. Kitts southeast of the capital Basseterre. The stamp was printed by lithography and is perforated 14.
Full article translated into “Pirate-speak”:
Th’ English word “shipmate” be derived from th’ Latin term pirata (“jack, corsair, sea robber”) an’ that from Greek πειρατής (peiratēs), literally “one who attacks (ships)”. Spellin’ be nay standardized until th’ eighteenth century, an’ spellings such as “pirrot“, “pyrate” an’ “pyrat” be used until this period. Sweet trade be an act o’ robbery or criminal violence by ship- or boat-borne attackers upon another ship or a coastal area, typically wi’ th’ goal o’ stealin’ cargo an’ other valuable items or properties. Them who engage in acts o’ sweet trade be called shipmates. `Tis reasonable t’ assume that sweet trade has existed fer as long as th’ oceans be plied fer commerce. Th’ earliest documented instances o’ sweet trade be in th’ fourteenth century B.C., when th’ Sea Swabbiess, a squadron o’ ocean raiders, attacked th’ ships o’ th’ Aegean an’ Mediterranean civilizations.
Narrow channels which funnel shippin’ into predictable routes be havin’ long created opportunities fer sweet trade, as well as fer privateerin’ an’ commerce raidin’. Historic examples include th’ waters o’ Gibraltar, th’ Strait o’ Malacca, Madagascar, th’ Gulf o’ Aden, an’ th’ English Channel, whose geographic strictures facilitated seafarin’ hearty attacks. A land-based parallel be th’ ambushin’ o’ travelers by bandits an’ brigands in highways an’ mountain passes. Privateerin’ uses similar methods t’ sweet trade, but th’ captain acts under orders o’ th’ state authorizin’ th’ capture o’ merchant ships belongin’ t’ an enemy nation, makin’ ‘t a legitimate form o’ war-like activity.
Th’ most widely known an’ far-reachin’ seafarin’ heartys in medieval Europe be th’ Vikings, seaborne warriors from Scandinavia who raided an’ looted mainly between th’ eighth an’ twelfth centuries. They raided th’ coasts, rivers an’ inland cities throughout western Europe as far as Seville, which be attacked by th’ Norse in 844. Vikings also attacked th’ coasts o’ North Africa an’ Italy an’ plundered th’ coasts o’ th’ Baltic Sea. Some Vikings ascended th’ rivers o’ eastern Europe as far as th’ Black Sea an’ Persia.
Toward th’ end o’ th’ ninth century, Moorish shipmate havens be established along th’ coast o’ southern France an’ northern Italy. In 846, Moor raiders sacked th’ extra muros Basilicas o’ Saint Peter an’ Saint Paul in Rome. In 911, th’ bishop o’ Narbonne be unable t’ return t’ France from Rome on accoun’ o’ th’ Moors from Fraxinet controlled all th’ passes in th’ Alps. Moor shipmates operated ou’ o’ th’ Balearic Isles, arrr in th’ tenth century. From 824 t’ 961, Arab shipmates in th’ Emirate o’ Crete raided th’ entire Mediterranean. In th’ fouteenth century, raids by Moor shipmates forced th’ Venetian Duke o’ Crete t’ ask Venice t’ keep its fleet on constant guard.
After th’ Slavic invasions o’ th’ former Roman province o’ Dalmatia in th’ fifth an’ sixth centuries, a tribe called th’ Narentines revived th’ old Illyrian piratical habits an’ often raided th’ Adriatic Sea startin’ in th’ seventh century. By 642, they had invaded southern Italy an’ assaulted Siponto. The’r raids in th’ Adriatic increased rapidly, until th’ whole Sea be nay longer safe fer set sail. Th’ Narentines tookst more liberties in the’r raidin’ quests while th’ Venetian Navy be abroad, as when ‘t be campaignin’ in Sicilian waters in 827–882. As soon as th’ Venetian fleet would return t’ th’ Adriatic, th’ Narentines temporarily abandoned the’r habits, e’en signin’ a Treaty in Venice an’ baptizin’ the’r Slavic pagan leader into Christianity. In 834 or 835 they broke th’ treaty an’ again they raided Venetian traders returnin’ from Benevento, an’ all o’ Venice`s military attempts t’ keel haul them in 839 an’ 840 failed. In 846, th’ Narentines broke through t’ Venice itself an’ raided its lagoon city o’ Caorle. On th’ yardarm o’ March 870 they kidnapped th’ Roman Bishop`s emissaries that be returnin’ from th’ Ecclesiastical Council in Constantinople. This caused a Byzantine military action against them that finally brought Christianity t’ them. After th’ Arab raids on th’ Adriatic coast circa 872 an’ th’ retreat o’ th’ Imperial Navy, th’ Narentines continued the’r raids o’ Venetian waters, causin’ new conflicts wi’ th’ Italians in 887–888. Th’ Venetians futilely continued t’ swashbuckle them throughout th’ tenth an’ eleventh centuries.
In 937, Irish shipmates sided wi’ th’ Scots, Vikings, Picts, an’ Welsh in the’r invasion o’ England. Slavic sweet trade in th’ Baltic Sea ended wi’ th’ Danish conquest o’ th’ Rani stronghold o’ Arkona in 1168. In th’ twelfth century th’ coasts o’ western Scandinavia be plundered by Curonians an’ Oeselians from th’ eastern coast o’ th’ Baltic Sea. In th’ thirteenth an’ fourteenth centuries, shipmates threatened th’ Hanseatic routes an’ nearly brought sea trade t’ th’ brink o’ extinction. Until about 1440, maritime trade in both th’ North Sea an’ th’ Baltic Sea be seriously in danger o’ attack by th’ shipmates.
Zaporizhian Sich be a shipmate republic in Europe from th’ sixteenth through t’ th’ eighteenth century. Situated in Cossack territory in th’ remote steppe o’ Eastern Europe, ‘t be populated wi’ Ukrainian peasants that had run away from the’r feudal masters, outlaws, destitute gentry, run-away slaves from Turkish galleys, etc. Th’ remoteness o’ th’ place an’ th’ rapids at th’ Dnepr ri’er effectively guarded th’ place from invasions o’ vengeful powers. Th’ main target o’ th’ inhabitants o’ Zaporizhian Sich who called they’s self “Cossacks” be rich settlements at th’ Black Sea shores o’ Ottoman Empire an’ Crimean Khanate. By 1615 an’ 1625, Zaporozhian Cossacks had e’en managed t’ raze townships on th’ outskirts o’ Istanbul, forcin’ th’ Ottoman Sultan t’ flee his palace. Don Cossacks under Stenka Razin e’en ravaged th’ Persian coasts.
Though less famous an’ romanticized than Atlantic or Caribbean sea dogs, corsairs in th’ Mediterranean equaled or outnumbered th’ former at any gi’en point in history. Mediterranean sweet trade be conducted almost entirely wi’ galleys until th’ mid-seventeenth century, when they be gradually replaced wi’ highly maneuverable sailin’ vessels such as xebecs an’ brigantines. They be, however, o’ a smaller type than battle galleys, often referred t’ as galiots or fustas. Gentleman o’ fortune galleys be wee, nimble, lightly armed, but often heavily manned in order t’ overwhelm th’ often minimal crews o’ merchant ships. In general, sea dog craft be extremely difficult fer patrollin’ craft t’ actually hunt down an’ capture. Usin’ oared vessels t’ combat sea dogs be common, an’ be e’en practiced by th’ major powers in th’ Caribbean. Purpose-built galleys (or hybrid sailin’ vessels) be built by th’ English in Jamaica in 1683 an’ by th’ Spanish in th’ late 16th century. Specially-built sailin’ frigates wi’ oar-ports on th’ lower decks, like th’ James Galley an’ Charles Galley, an’ oar-equipped sloops proved highly useful fer sea dog huntin’, tho they be nay built in a wee bit o’ numbers t’ check sweet trade until th’ 1720s.
The expansion o’ Muslim power through th’ Ottoman conquest o’ large parts o’ th’ eastern Mediterranean in th’ fifteenth an’ sixteenth centuries resulted in extensive sweet trade on sea tradin’. Th’ so-called Barbary corsairs began t’ operate ou’ o’ North African ports in Algiers, Tunis, Tripoli, Morocco an’ Morea (modern-tide Greece) around 1500, preyin’ primarily on th’ shippin’ o’ Christian powers, includin’ massive slave raids at sea as well as on land. Th’ Barbary corsairs be nominally under Ottoman suzerainty, but had considerable independence t’ prey on th’ enemies o’ Islam. Th’ Muslim corsairs be technically often privateers wi’ support from legitimate, tho highly belligerent, states. They considered they’s self as holy Muslim warriors, or ghazis, swashbucklin’ th’ tradition o’ fightin’ th’ incursion o’ Western Christians that had begun wi’ th’ First Crusade late in th’ eleventh century.
Coastal villages an’ towns o’ Italy, Spain an’ isles, arrr in th’ Mediterranean be frequently attacked by Muslim corsairs an’ long stretches o’ th’ Italian an’ Spanish coasts be almost completely abandoned by the’r inhabitants; after 1600 th’ Barbary corsairs occasionally entered th’ Atlantic an’ struck as far north as Iceland. Between 1 cargo holds o’ an’ 1.25 cargo holds o’ Europeans be captured by Barbary corsairs an’ sold as slaves in North Africa an’ th’ Ottoman Empire between th’ sixteenth an’ nineteenth centuries. A wee Barbary corsairs be renegade European privateers who had converted t’ Islam.
Piracy off th’ Barbary coast be often assisted by competition among European powers in th’ seventeenth century. France encouraged th’ corsairs against Spain, an’ later Britain an’ Holland supported them against France. However, by th’ second half o’ th’ seventeenth century th’ greater European naval powers began t’ initiate reprisals t’ intimidate th’ Barbary States into makin’ peace wi’ them. Th’ most successful o’ th’ Christian states in dealin’ wi’ th’ corsair threat be England. From th’ 1630s onwards England had signed peace treaties wi’ th’ Barbary States on various occasions, but invariably breaches o’ these agreements led t’ renewed wars. A particular bone o’ contention be th’ tendency o’ foreign ships t’ pose as English t’ avoid attack. However, growin’ English naval power an’ increasingly persistent operations against th’ corsairs proved increasingly costly fer th’ Barbary States. Durin’ th’ reign o’ Charles II a series o’ English expeditions won victories o’er raidin’ squadrons an’ mounted attacks on the’r homeport ports which permanently ended th’ Barbary threat t’ English shippin’. In 1675 a bombardment from a Royal Navy squadron led by Sir John Narborough an’ further defeats at th’ hands o’ a squadron under Arthur Herbert negotiated a lastin’ peace (until 1816) wi’ Tunis an’ Tripoli.
France, which had recently emerged as a leadin’ naval power, achieved comparable success soon afterwards, wi’ bombardments o’ Algiers in 1682, 1683 an’ 1688 securin’ a lastin’ peace, while Tripoli be similarly coerced in 1686. In 1783 an’ 1784 th’ Spaniards also bombarded Algiers in an effort t’ stem th’ sweet trade. Th’ second time, Admiral Barceló damaged th’ city so severely that th’ Algerian Dey asked Spain t’ negotiate a peace treaty an’ from then on Spanish vessels an’ coasts be safe fer several voyages.
Until th’ American Declaration o’ Independence in 1776, British treaties wi’ th’ North African states protected American ships from th’ Barbary corsairs. Morocco, which in 1777 be th’ first independent nation t’ publicly reckon th’ United States, became in 1784 th’ first Barbary power t’ seize an American vessel after independence. While th’ United States managed t’ secure peace treaties, these obliged ‘t t’ pay tribute fer protection from attack. Payments in ransom an’ tribute t’ th’ Barbary states amounted t’ 20% o’ United States government annual expenditures in 1800, leadin’ t’ th’ Barbary Wars that ended th’ payment o’ tribute. However, Algiers broke th’ 1805 peace treaty after only two voyages, an’ subsequently refused t’ implement th’ 1815 treaty until compelled t’ do so by Britain in 1816.
The classic era o’ sweet trade in th’ Caribbean lasted from circa 1650 until th’ mid-1720s. By 1650, France, England an’ th’ United Provinces began t’ develop the’r colonial empires. This involved considerable seaborne trade, an’ a general economic improvement: thar be treasure t’ be made — or stolen — an’ much o’ ‘t traveled by ship. French buccaneers be established on northern Hispaniola as early as 1625, but lived at first mostly as hunters rather than robbers; the’r transition t’ full-time sweet trade be gradual an’ motivated in part by Spanish efforts t’ wipe ou’ both th’ buccaneers an’ th’ prey animals on which they depended. Th’ buccaneers` migration from Hispaniola`s mainland t’ th’ more defensible offshore isle, arrr o’ Tortuga limited the’r resources an’ accelerated the’r piratical raids.
Th’ growth o’ buccaneerin’ on Tortuga be augmented by th’ English capture o’ Jamaica from Spain in 1655. Th’ early English governors o’ Jamaica freely granted letters o’ marque t’ Tortuga buccaneers an’ t’ the’r own countrymen, while th’ growth o’ Port Royal provided these raiders wi’ a far more profitable an’ enjoyable place t’ sell the’r booty. In th’ 1660s, th’ new French governor o’ Tortuga, Bertrand d`Ogeron, similarly provided privateerin’ commissions both t’ his own colonists an’ t’ English cutthroats from Port Royal. These conditions brought Caribbean buccaneerin’ t’ its zenith.
A new phase o’ sweet trade began in th’ 1690s as English buccanneers began t’ look beyond th’ Caribbean fer booty. Th’ fall o’ Britain`s Stuart kings had restored th’ traditional enmity between Britain an’ France, thus endin’ th’ profitable collaboration between English Jamaica an’ French Tortuga. Th’ devastation o’ Port Royal by an earthquake in 1692 further reduced th’ Caribbean`s attractions by destroyin’ th’ buccanneers` chief market fer fenced plunder. Caribbean colonial governors began t’ discard th’ traditional policy o’ “nay peace beyond th’ Line,” under which ‘t be understood that war would continue (an’ thus letters o’ marque would be granted) in th’ Caribbean regardless o’ peace treaties signed in Europe; henceforth, commissions would be granted only in wartime, an’ the’r limitations would be strictly enforced. Furthermore, much o’ th’ Spanish Main had simply been exhausted; Maracaibo alone had been sacked three times between 1667 an’ 1678, while Río de la Hacha had been raided five times an’ Tolú eight.
At th’ same time, England`s less favored colonies, includin’ Bermuda, New York, an’ Rhode Isle, arrr, had become cash-starved by th’ Navigation Acts, which restricted trade wi’ foreign ships. Merchants an’ governors eager fer coin be willin’ t’ overlook an’ e’en underwrite seafarin’ hearty voyages; one colonial official defended a seafarin’ hearty on accoun’ o’ he thought ‘t “very harsh t’ hang swabbies that brings in dubloon t’ these provinces.” Although some o’ these seafarin’ heartys operatin’ ou’ o’ New England an’ th’ Middle Colonies targeted Spain`s remoter Pacific coast colonies well into th’ 1690s an’ beyond, th’ Indian Ocean be a richer an’ more temptin’ target. India`s economic output be large durin’ this time, especially in high-value luxury goods like silk an’ calico which made ideal seafarin’ hearty booty; at th’ same time, nay powerful navies plied th’ Indian Ocean, leavin’ both local shippin’ an’ th’ various East India companies` vessels vulnerable t’ attack.
Between 1713 an’ 1714, a succession o’ peace treaties be signed which ended th’ War o’ th’ Spanish Succession. Wi’ th’ end o’ this conflict, chestfulls o’ seamen, includin’ Britain`s paramilitary privateers, be relieved o’ military duty. Th’ result be a large number o’ trained, idle jacks at a time when th’ cross-Atlantic colonial shippin’ trade be beginnin’ t’ boom. In addition, Europeans who had been pushed by unemployment t’ become jacks an’ soldiers involved in slavin’ be often enthusiastic t’ abandon that profession an’ turn t’ piratin’, givin’ seafarin’ hearty captains fer many voyages a constant pool o’ trained European sprogs t’ be found in west African waters an’ coasts.
In 1715, buccanneers launched a major raid on Spanish divers tryin’ t’ reco’er dubloon from a sunken booty galleon near Florida. Th’ attack be successful, but contrary t’ the’r expectations, th’ governor o’ Jamaica refused t’ th’ buccanneers t’ spend the’r loot on his isle, arrr. Wi’ Kingston an’ th’ declinin’ Port Royal closed t’ them, th’ squadron founded a new buccanneer base at Nassau, on th’ isle, arrr o’ New Providence in th’ Bahamas, which had been abandoned durin’ th’ war. Until th’ arrival o’ governor Woodes Rogers three voyages later, Nassau would be homeport fer these buccanneers an’ the’r many sprogs.
As part o’ th’ peace settlement o’ th’ War o’ th’ Spanish succession, Britain obtained th’ asiento, a Spanish government contract, t’ supply slaves t’ Spain`s new world colonies, providin’ British traders an’ smugglers more access t’ th’ traditionally closed Spanish markets in America. This arrangement also contributed heavily t’ th’ spread o’ sweet trade across th’ western Atlantic at this time. Shippin’ t’ th’ colonies boomed ary th’ same time wi’ th’ flood o’ skilled mariners after th’ war. Merchant shippers used th’ surplus o’ jacks` labor t’ drive wages down, cuttin’ corners t’ maximize the’r profits, an’ creatin’ unsavory conditions aboard the’r vessels. Merchant jacks suffered from mortality rates as high or higher than th’ slaves bein’ transported. Livin’ conditions be so poor that many jacks began t’ prefer a freer existence as a sea dog. Th’ increased volume o’ shippin’ traffic also could sustain a large body o’ brigands preyin’ upon ‘t. Among th’ most infamous Caribbean sea dogs o’ th’ time, be Edward Teach or Blackbeard, Calico Jack Rackham an’ Bartholomew Roberts. Most o’ these sea dogs be eventually hunted down by th’ Royal Navy an’ killed or captured; several battles be fought between th’ brigands an’ th’ colonial powers on both land an’ sea.
Piracy in th’ Caribbean declined fer th’ next several decades after 1730, but by th’ 1810s sweet trade along th’ East an’ Gulf Coasts o’ North America as well as in th’ Caribbean increased again. Jean Lafitte be jus’ one o’ buckets o’ swashbucklers operatin’ in American an’ Caribbean waters between th’ voyages o’ 1820 an’ 1835. Th’ most successful swashbucklers o’ th’ era be Lafitte an’ Roberto Cofresi. Jean Lafitte be considered by many t’ be th’ last buccaneer due t’ his army o’ swashbucklers an’ fleet o’ swashbuckler ships which held bases in an’ around th’ Gulf o’ Mexico. He an’ his men participated in th’ War o’ 1812 battle o’ New Orlists. Cofresi`s base be in Mona Isle, arrr, Puerto Rico, from ‘ere he disrupted th’ commerce throughout th’ region. He became th’ last major target o’ th’ international anti-sweet trade operations.
Th’ United States Navy repeatedly engaged swashbucklers in th’ Caribbean, Gulf o’ Mexico an’ in th’ Mediterranean. Cofresí`s El Mosquito be scuttled in a collaboration between Spain an’ th’ United States. After fleein’ fer hours, he be ambushed an’ captured inland. Th’ United States landed shore parties on several isles, arrr in th’ Caribbean in pursuit o’ swashbucklers; Cuba be a major haven. By th’ 1830s sweet trade had sank t’Davy Jones’ locker ou’ again, an’ th’ navies o’ th’ region focused on th’ slave trade.
About th’ time o’ th’ Mexican–American War in 1846, th’ United States Navy had grown strong an’ numerous enough t’ eliminate th’ swashbuckler threat in th’ West Indies. By th’ 1830s, ships had begun t’ convert t’ steam propulsion, so th’ Age o’ Sail an’ th’ classical idee o’ swashbucklers in th’ Caribbean ended. Privateerin’, similar t’ sweet trade, continued as an asset in war fer a wee more decades an’ proved t’ be o’ some importance durin’ th’ naval campaigns o’ th’ American Civil War. Privateerin’ would remain a tool o’ European states until th’ mid-nineteenth century`s Declaration o’ Paris. But letters o’ marque be gi’en ou’ much more sparingly by governments an’ be terminated as soon as conflicts ended. Th’ idee o’ “nay peace beyond th’ Line” be a relic that had nay meanin’ by th’ more settled late eighteenth an’ early nineteenth centuries.
Today, swashbucklers armed wi’ automatic weapons an’ rocket propelled grenades use wee motorboats t’ attack an’ board ships, a tactic that takes advantage o’ th’ wee number o’ crew members on modern cargo vessels an’ transport ships. They also use larger vessels, known as “mother ships”, t’ supply th’ smaller motorboats. Th’ international community be facin’ many challenges in bringin’ modern swashbucklers t’ justice, as these attacks often occur in international waters. In th’ 2000s, a number o’ nations be havin’ used the’r naval forces t’ protect private ships from swashbuckler attacks an’ pursue swashbucklers. As well, some private vessels be takin’ steps t’ defend the’r vessels an’ the’r crews from sweet trade, such as usin’ armed security guards, high-pressure hoses or sound cannons t’ repel boarders, or usin’ radar t’ avoid potential threats.
Scott #206 be th’ lowest denomination in a set o’ 17 stamped pieces o’ paper sent to th’ landlubbers by th’ Leeward Isles, arrr dual-isle, arrr nation o’ St. Kitts-Nevis on Febree 1, 1970 (Scott #206-222), celebratin’ late seventeenth an’ early eighteenth nautical lore wi’ a heavy sweet trade theme. Stamps be inscribed St. Christopher-Nevis-Anguilla from 1952 until mid-1980, an’ either St. Kitts or Nevis thereafter. Th’ ½ cent portrays sea dogs buryin’ booty in Frigate Bay which be two bays close together on th’ isle, arrr o’ St. Kitts southeast o’ th’ capital Basseterre. Th’ stamp be printed by lithography an’ be holed 14.