How did the pirates live on their islands and ships?
Pirates usually lived better than other sailors of the time. They ate more and better and drank more. But in return they paid a high price, risking their lives.
Different life, but very high risk
The Pirates’ way of life: short, risky and full of pleasures at times. And they were looking for a pleasurable way of life even if it was short.
Apart from exceptions, like some of the Corsairs, they had only ambition and lack of scruples. They wanted to get rich as quickly as possible, at any price.
They lived for the present moment, with no future.
Their way of life was to live thinking only of the present.
Some Europeans decided to live a different life in their fleeting paradise, as Pirates or Corsairs, at the expense of others. They did not mind committing any crime or atrocity as long as they could get a good booty.
The Pirates’ way of life: A different life, a life with no future. Some went from being hunters to pirates.
Spain was powerless before the great number they became. Some lived well organized. A group of pirates from different countries created the Brotherhood of the Brothers of the Coast.
Among them they did not allow European women, they came to group together to create real armies, their ships were the fastest, unemployed sailors became pirates, not only boarded ships also lived raided Spanish colonies …
Their life was also full throttle, always on the edge. They risked a lot for a good booty. But they usually squandered it or gambled it with dice. The money didn’t last long, a few days or even a single night in luxury was enough to make them broke,
Pirates with no future: their life on the edge
They did not think about tomorrow.
They lived only from day to day and every day could be their last. The pirates were looking for a pleasurable way of life, even if it was short.
Apart from exceptions, such as some of the Corsairs, most of them only had ambition and lack of scruples. The pirates’ main objective was to get rich as quickly as possible.
If life on a ship at sea was already dangerous, storms and diseases complicated it even more. In the boardings they risked their lives in exchange for possible riches. They lived trying to fulfill their dream, to give a great blow, to get a great booty.
From Buccaneer Hunters to Cruel Pirates
Expert wild animal hunters
There were those who were buccaneers at the beginning and smoked meat.
Some pirates had previously been buccaneers, that is to say, they were dedicated to hunting animals, especially on the island of Hispaniola.
They lived on the islands, at first in peace with the Indians. The Arawak Indians taught them to smoke meat on grills, which they called Bucan. Thanks to the smoking, the meat could be preserved for a long time, long enough for a return trip of the ships to the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal).
Soon these Bucaneros became traders. They dedicated themselves to selling these smoked meats to ships returning to Europe. These meats were well received on the ships and paid well for them. It was not for nothing that they would spend months before being able to get fresh meat.
Spain was not able to deal with them
They were evicted from the islands, but they kept coming back.
The New World was so vast, with so many territories, islands and islets, that it was impossible to control them all. The Caribbean Sea alone has about 1000 islands.
When Spain expelled the Buccaneers from the Island of Hispaniola (currently Santo Domingo + Haiti), they began to occupy other islands. To avoid being expelled again, they moved from island to island. With so many hundreds of islands, where they lived seasonally, they could not be located, and therefore they could not be eliminated.
When Jamaica passed into the hands of England, the island became a refuge for thousands of Pirates and Corsairs. Filibusters lived on the island, and formed part of its defense. It was the only solution for England. Otherwise Spain would have easily expelled the English from the Caribbean.
Jamaica was defended by a considerable number. Adding the English troops and the numerous pirates, expert fighters, Spain did not dare to attack the island of Jamaica, whose capital was fortified. For England it was the only way to prevent the island from being reconquered again by Spain.
Pirate Brotherhood of the Brethren of the Coast
Pirate Republic and its Brotherhood
The filibusters created their own association, to help each other, and to be able to face the Spaniards. They called it the Brotherhood and it lasted for decades. They were people who came mainly from France, England and Holland, although neither their religion nor their origin mattered.
The lands and ships belonged to everyone, and everyone could organize expeditions. These pirates owned only their personal property and their share of the booty.
No European women among the pirates
They did not allow women from Europe with them.
The Filibusters did not allow European women on the island. There had been so many conflicts and fights among them, because of European women, that they prohibited them, and only allowed Indian, black or mestizo women.
Authentic armies of cruel Pirates
Sometimes thousands of pirates and dozens of ships were grouped together.
Sometimes they formed real armies, with thousands of pirates and dozens of ships. When a leader appeared to unite them and there was a gigantic booty, they mounted real warlike expeditions. They even took over towns as important as Panama or Portobelo.
Pirate ships were faster
They cleaned their ships thoroughly to make them faster.
If they did not catch up with the ships, the pirates would have no booty, so their ships had to be the fastest. To do this, they used light ships, with one or two sails and little weight. In order for them to glide easily through the waters, they cleaned the hull of the ship of algae, mollusks, etc. Since the accumulation of them, slowed the progress of the ship.
Increase in the number of pirates and their raids
The reconversion of privateers into Pirates
Sailors and privateers turned into Pirates
The long maritime war between Spain, England, France and Holland, which lasted more than 10 years, is over.
Thousands of sailors and corsairs are left without work, they are fired by the navies of their countries, which no longer need them. Thousands of sailors who had risked their lives for their country, living months and months in overcrowded ships. English, French and Dutch who had fought against Spain, and sometimes against each other, were left to their fate.
But something had changed for them, the discovery of the New World and the paradisiacal islands of the Caribbean Sea, where life was easier. And they had also seen and knew the enormous amount of riches that passed by them.
Many of them decided to continue doing what they had always done, boarding ships. But now, they no longer cared what countries they were from. An “anything goes” united seafarers from different countries. They just wanted to survive and get rich.
They dared and raided rich populations.
They came to take the rich Panama
The conquest of Panama, the jewel of the Spanish Crown in America, at that time, was a surprise, because it was unexpected.
They seized the city, and committed atrocities, torturing its inhabitants, until they told them where they kept their money or their treasures.
They took hundreds of its inhabitants prisoner. They made them carry heavy loads with which they crossed the jungle until they returned again to the Atlantic Ocean. Most of the captives were massacred or killed for the hard work they had to do.