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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interior. All the peoples of the Guinea Coast and its hinterland were fierce warriors. Many of the tribes and kingdoms of the region were also wealthy. All had highly developed political systems. For many centuries Europeans had shied away from this coast of darkness, leaving it not only unexplored but virtually untouched. Because the coast lacked suitable anchorages for ships, few Europeans visited it—unless driven ashore by necessity. Further, the rivers of the region appeared to be

batteries totaling fifty-four pieces of cannon to guard strategic places along his coast. Furthermore, although they had taken a great deal of loot over the past few months, their plunder was of no real use unless it could be turned into ready money. Since the ports of America and the Caribbean were now closed to pirate contraband, there was no point in seeking to sell their goods in those areas. But on the Guinea Coast of Africa, he pointed out, independent merchants still operated in defiance

to his own admission that he had violated Admiralty codes by distributing booty among men and by taking Moorish and Portuguese ships—which were not, after all, covered by French passes. There is absolutely no reason to suspect a deliberate attempt to deprive Kidd of this “evidence,” which he was so sure would save him. The French passes simply got lost in the bureaucratic shuffle, for—much too late to do Kidd any good—they were eventually located in the Public Records Office. As for Kidd’s

the year 1600, Queen Elizabeth I proclaimed the formation of a new company of merchant adventurers. Speaking from her throne in a quavering voice, the ailing old queen, who had been monarch for forty-two years, granted her “Royal Assent and License” to an association of merchants so that they “of their own Adventures, costs and charges, as well as for the honor of this our realm of England as for the increase of our navigation and advancement of trade of merchandise…might adventure and set forth

agreement placed him in a dangerously vulnerable position: He had to find booty—or he would suffer grievous financial harm, since he and Livingston would have to make good any losses to their backers if the venture failed. Furthermore, if anything went wrong—if his crew mutinied, for example, or a friendly ship was attacked in error, he alone would be responsible. Moreover, as a more than competent seaman, Kidd must also have recognized that it would be impossible for him to accomplish his

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