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The buccaneers were pirates who attacked Spanish shipping in the Caribbean Sea during the late 17th century.
The term buccaneer is now used generally as a synonym for pirate. Originally, buccaneer crews were larger, more apt to attack coastal cities, and more localized to the Caribbean than later pirate crews who sailed to the Indian Ocean on the Pirate Round in the late 17th century.The word buccaneer is derived from the French "boucanier", which translates as "someone who smokes meat" and which in turn comes from the native American "bukan". The Caribbean Arawak used this word to describe a sort of grill on which they smoked meat, preferably Manatee.

The original buccaneers were hunters who lived on the island of Hispaniola in the Caribbean. Eventually, theSpaniards drove them off Hispaniola, which fueled the buccaneers’ hate of the Spanish. Those who went to Tortuga formed a brotherhood that became known as the Brethren of the Coast.
By the 1630s, they were no longer hunters, but seamen. The buccaneers initially used small flyboats or pinnaces to sneak up on larger Spanish vessels. Under cover of darkness, they jammed the ship’s rudder to preventescape and boarded theirs before anyone aboard raised the alarm. Expert marksmen, they killed the helmsman and officers. Their barbarous reputation, especially when victims failed to yield, grew until surrender became the norm in hopes that the pirates would spare them.
The buccaneers also raided Spanish towns. Their attacks resembled modern commando-style raids: fast, hard-hitting, achieved withsurprise. Rather than approach a town from the sea, they landed farther down the coast and attacked from the land. Henry Morgan perfected this type of raid, and his attack on Porto Bello in 1668 was a classic example of how the buccaneers accomplished this feat.
Much of what is known of the buccaneers comes from journals written by men who sailed with them. The best known of these is AlexandreExquemelin’s The Buccaneers of America. Basil Ringrose, another surgeon, sailed with Bartholomew Sharp for two years. He kept a detailed journal of the 1680-1682 journey along the Pacific coast of South America.
By the sixteenth century the Caribbean became known as the Spanish Main, and another hundred years passed before Spanish dominance of these waters ended, in part because of the buccaneers andalso because the French and English established colonies in this part of the New World. Unable to protect their new lands, they enlisted the buccaneers to prey on enemy ships while protecting the colonies from attack.
The buccaneers and their predecessors sought the fabulous riches of gold and silver the Spanish loaded aboard their treasure galleons. These ships usually sailed in convoys calledFlota. Between 1530 and 1735 the treasure fleet made annual voyages from Seville to the Spanish Main where they split into three groups. One sailed to Porto Bello to collect the silver mined in Peru before sailing to Cartagena to load Ecuadorian gold, Columbian emeralds, and Venezuelan pearls. The second contingent went to Vera Cruz where Mexican silver and Oriental silks and spices awaitedshipment to Spain. The smallest group landed at Honduras to collect indigo and spices from Central America. Once their cargoes were stowed on board, they sailed to Havana and reassembled into one convoy bound for Spain.
Famous Buccaneers
The buccaneers raised cruelty to an art form. They used terror as a weapon, and as a result their brutality became legendary. Two of the worst were L’Ollonais andBraziliano.
• When Jean David Nau (1635? - 1668) joined the buccaneers, he became known as L’Ollonais. His early career while fairly successful seems to be more of note for the fact that it distinguished l'Olonnais for his unusually ferocious treatment of prisoners and earned him a reputation for cruelty that few have surpassed.
L'Olonnais himself was an expert torturer, and his techniques...
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