History : Mar-Apr 2016
END OF AN ERA IN THE 16TH AND 17TH CENTURIES, the main target of piracy was Spanish possessions and fleets. As Spanish power weakened and English, French, and Dutch colo- nies emerged in the Caribbean, the pirates held firm to their objective: to intercept trade between Europe and America. It was was the national navies of these powers, especially Britain, that managed to finish off the adventurers. After an amnesty was offered to pi- rates in 1717, the British government appointed Woodes Rogers, a former corsair, as governor of the Bahamas. He led a large fleet to Nassau and dispersed the pirates that had gathered there. The main players in the golden age of freebooters in the Carib- bean then fell one by one, in different circumstances, in the space of a few years. BLACKBEARD Sailing on the Queen Anne’s Revenge, Edward Teach (Blackbeard), so terrorized Caribbean traders that the governor of Virginia sent a fleet against him commanded by Robert Maynard, who cornered Blackbeard off the coast of North Carolina in 1718. After a crew member cut off Blackbeard’s head, Maynard hung it from the bow of his ship. CALICO JACK Among other exploits, John Rackham (Calico Jack) is credited with the design of the Jolly Roger flag. Operating out of New Providence in the Bahamas on Charles Vane’s crew, he was later elected as his replacement. In 1720 he was captured by authorities near Jamaica, hanged, and his body displayed in a gibbet. The Last of Their Kind 17TH-CENTURY AXE USED BY SPANISH PIRATES TO FORCE THEIR WAY ABOARD VESSELS FLYING COLORS PIRATES FLEW THEIR OWN DISTINCTIVE FLAGS BEFORE ATTACKING A SHIP. MUSEONAVAL,MADRID CORBIS/CORDON PRESS BRIDGEMAN/ACI A PIRATE’S LAST STAND THIS 1718 OIL PAINTING DEPICTS THE NOTORIOUS BLACKBEARD BEFORE HIS DEATH AT THE HANDS OF LT. ROBERT MAYNARD’S FORCES. BLACK BART A Welsh pirate, Bartholomew Roberts (Black Bart) captained a succession of ships, including the heavily armed Royal Fortune. Roberts sacked his way through hundreds of captured vessels, from the Caribbean to the coast of Africa. He was felled by grapeshot fired by a pursuing British Navy ship off Guinea in 1722.