In 1715, the world’s maritime powers noticed a dramatic increase in pirate attacks. The pirates preyed on merchant shipping throughout the Caribbean, but they also ranged up the Atlantic seaboard of North America. Maritime trade was disrupted, and so insurance rates soared. Bizarrely, the cause for this growing pirate menace was the recent peace treaty signed by the European powers. Hundreds of privateers found themselves out of work, and so many turned to piracy. They even established their own pirate haven at Nassau in the Bahamas. From there, some of the most notorious pirates of their day - Blackbeard, Charles Vane and Sam Bellamy - caused havoc throughout the Americas.
The British response was a “carrot and stick” policy. The “carrot” was the offering of a pardon to any pirate willing to surrender. The “stick” was the Royal Navy, who actively hunted down the remaining pirates, and the colonial governors, who publicly tried and executed them, to demonstrate that piracy didn’t pay. This was so successful that by 1725 the menace had passed. While it lasted though, these pirates proved a much greater threat to colonial trade and prosperity than any law-abiding privateer. Hundreds of ships were captured, trade was brought to a standstill, and American ports were blockaded.
Veteran historian Angus Konstam, one of the world’s leading authorities on piracy, has spent half a lifetime researching the pirate menace of the early 18th century. Here he draws on a wealth of documentary evidence to piece together the real story of the so-called “Golden Age of Piracy”. His proven gift at storytelling really brings this vibrant and colourful period to life. In the process, Konstam strips myth from reality and fact from fiction to lay bare the real world of some of history’s most notorious pirates.
Angus Konstam is an author who specialises in maritime and military history. He is also an international authority on piracy, but claims he is losing the battle to separate pirate fact from piratical fiction.Born in 1960, Angus was brought up in Orkney. Although he no longer lives there, he still thinks of these beautiful islands as home. He then spent six years in the Royal Navy, and claims that the Senior Service gave him grounding in naval life, seamanship and navigation – all useful material for a maritime historian. He also sailed the waters of the Caribbean, a region he’d ...
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