Talk Like a Pirate Day returns to port on September 19th and you can bet that some celebrities will use the terms pirates and buccaneers interchangeably. Most people do it. Nevertheless, these two words are actually not a synonym.
Four hundred years ago, when you were a seafarer thief, a lot was said on the label you received – mostly about who tagged it. Anyone who called you a "pirate" probably hated your guts. But those who have cited you as a "buccaneer" may have had a very different attitude. In certain contexts, the latter group may even have accepted you as a national hero.
Time for a semantic lesson. Article 1
Historical definitions were usually much broader. During the 17th and 18th centuries, England viewed piracy as a criminal act committed on the high seas or below the ebb, on banks, rivers and estuaries. Hundreds of years ago, in AD 100, Plutarch – a notable Greek scholar – spoke of pirates as someone who attacked a ship or seaside town without legal authority, probably referring to warships. These are usually owned by national governments these days, but this has not always been the case. From the Middle Ages to the beginning of the twentieth century, it was common for a nation at war to recruit private ships to attack their enemy's ships, steal their goods, and plunder their ports. Sailors participating in such a state-recognized disaster were referred to as "buccaneers".
Normally, a buccaneer ship was allowed to drive with a license issued by the country in which it was used. This document, referred to as the Letter of Marque, contains a code of conduct and a payment policy for the crew. (Buccaneers almost always had to keep a percentage of what they took with them.)
Buccaneers were essentially independent contractors who acted as enemy, government-commissioned, maritime mercenaries. Therefore, technically, they were not pirates because real pirates did not behave in accordance with national laws or regulations. But the dividing line here was pretty blurry. Many buccaneers eventually became pirates and vice versa. In addition, a captive buccaneer was sometimes condemned as a pirate by the land he or she victimized.
This brings us back to buccaneers: during the 16th to 18th centuries Spain more or less controlled the Caribbean. In the 1600s, however, she got a less friendly competition. In the middle of this century, settlers from various other European countries – including England, France, and the Netherlands – had colonized parts of the Windward Islands and Hispaniola. Among these newcomers, transplanted French were particularly common. The Gallic colonists often smoked their meat over a wooden platform they called Boucan. Thanks to this cooking technique, the border guards received the nickname "Buccaneer".
Soon, many of the piracy turned to. Due to the enormous colonial presence of Spain in the Caribbean, buccaneers aimed more or less exclusively on Spanish ports and ships. This turned many heads across the Atlantic. In an attempt to paralyze Spain's empire, the English, French and Dutch began to send letters from Marque to privateers.
Finally, the word Buccaneer received its current – and very specific – definition. That is, "Any of the pirate adventurers who raided Spanish colonies and ships along the American coast in the second half of the 17th century." (It was said that it was specific.)
The most famous buccaneer of all was undoubtedly Sir Henry Morgan. Little is known about his early life, though most historians believe he was born in Wales in 1635. Almost 20 years later, he sailed as a member of an expedition to Barbados, where England conquered Jamaica from the Spaniards. 19659002] Morgan quickly became one of the leading buccaneers and one of England's most ruthless privateers. In 1668, he captured the heavily guarded city of Porto Bello in Panama and held it for a ransom until the Spaniards coughed up an incredible 250,000 pesos. Three years later, Morgan plundered and plundered Panama City, which was immediately burned down. Such exploits did not appeal to the Spaniards, but Morgan was a popular figure in England. Knighted by King Charles II, he was appointed deputy governor of Jamaica in 1674. After his death on August 25, 1688 Morgan received a grand state funeral with a greeting from 22 guns.
And yes, that was rum named after him. Obviously, the buccaneer had its advantages.
Do you have a big question to answer? Then send us an e-mail to [email protected]