Raiders and Rebels: A History of the Golden Age of Piracy

Raiders and Rebels: A History of the Golden Age of Piracy

Frank Sherry

Language: English

Pages: 322

ISBN: 0061572845

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


I he most authoritative history of piracy, Frank Sherry's rich and colorful account reveals the rise and fall of the real "raiders and rebels" who terrorized the seas. From 1692 to 1725 pirates sailed the oceans of the world, plundering ships laden with the riches of India, Africa, South America, and the Caribbean. Often portrayed as larger-than-life characters, these outlaw figures and their bloodthirsty exploits have long been immortalized in fiction and film. But beneath the legends is the true story of these brigands—often common men and women escaping the social and economic restrictions of 18th-century Europe and America. Their activities threatened the beginnings of world trade and jeopardized the security of empires. And together, the author argues, they fashioned a surprisingly democratic society powerful enough to defy the world.

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of Fernando de Noronha. Here he took on water, cleaned and repaired the Rover’s hull, and prepared to seek out Portuguese prizes in Brazilian waters. In September 1719, after cruising for a number of weeks off the coast of Brazil without locating a prize, Roberts encountered a fleet of forty-two Portuguese merchant vessels off the port of Bahia. The merchants, most of them carrying cargoes of gold, sugar, tobacco, wood, guns, and hides, were in the midst of forming a convoy for the long voyage

on the world. Most pirates also fought to avenge themselves on an oppressive civilization that they hated and feared. But above all, the rebellious seafarers of that day turned outlaw in order to live as free men in an age that permitted liberty only to the wealthy and the well-born. The story of the pirate war against the world begins in 1692 with a fateful voyage eastward. 1 The Opening Gun: The Cruise of the Amity Captain Thomas Tew, of Newport, Rhode Island, was an easygoing,

who invented it, the outlaws who had evolved their own free brotherhood of the sea in defiance of the political powers of their time, were neither ideologues nor sophisticates—but only ordinary, uneducated seamen. The mythology of piracy, composed by writers of romantic fiction long after the great outbreak, may depict pirates as wronged noblemen seeking justice, or as swashbuckling soldiers of fortune, or as gentry with a score to settle, but this is far from reality. In fact, virtually all

Kidd felt confident that in spite of everything, he would be able to explain away his questionable behavior, perhaps blame his crew for his troubles, call upon his sponsors to protect him for the sake of their own good names—and above all, be able to distribute sufficient spoils to quell any criticism. What Kidd, in his wishful ignorance, did not know was that he was no longer in a position to excuse, or explain, or even buy his way out of trouble. For Kidd and his cruise had become the subject

Spanish prey. (The Story of the Spanish Silver also illustrates, in an almost incidental way, how natural and even inevitable it was for the ex-privateers of the War of the Spanish Succession to become pirates in time of peace.) Defoe says that the Story of the Spanish Silver actually began in 1714, when a fleet of Spanish galleons carrying a great load of silver sank in a storm in the Gulf of Florida. Two years later, Defoe continues, several Spanish vessels from Havana located the sunken fleet

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