The Spanish Main

Old map of the Spanish Main
The Spanish Main first stood for the northern coast of South America, and to be more specific, the stretch of land between the Isthmus of Panama and the mouth of the Orinoco River. The name “Spanish Main” was applied to the Spanish Mainland by English and French interlopers. Soon, it became known as all of the territories and islands in the Caribbean region. This region was perfect for raiding Spanish treasure fleets.

There was one treasure fleet that stood out beyond the rest, the fleet that sailed from Seville to the Spanish Main. The fleet sailed every year from 1530 to 1735. Once they traveled together for long enough, they broke into three groups. The first group sailed to Porto Bello to collect silver and then to Cartage to collect gold, emeralds, and pearls. The second fleet sailed to Vera Cruz to collect silver and goods that were shipped across the Pacific. The third, final, and smallest fleet sailed to Central America to collect indigo die and oriental spices. The fleet then reassembled and sailed back to Spain,and on the return is when they where most susceptible
to attack by couragous pirates.

By: Sarah

Port Royal
Tortuga and Port Royal

Tortuga is an island in the Bahamas that is now called Haiti. The first people on Tortuga were cattle hunters which were being attacked, so the French built a fortress called Port Royal. But then, they got buccaneers to protect it, so it was a safe haven for pirates. However, when the new Governor arrived, they all had to leave.

Since the French were in a war with Spain, all people who hated them came to Tortuga to get together and attack the Spanish. Henry Morgan also used Tortuga as a base, and so did Charles Vane.

By: Jack

nc.gifNorth Carolina: Pirate Haven

Pirates went to North Carolina because all of the rivers, lakes, beaches, and coves. If they were being chased, they could just zip into one of the many caves and hide until their enemies passed them. Also, the ideal coves provided many great places to put a dock and hideout.

Many famous pirates were there at some point in there career. Blackbeard spent most of his career in North Carolina. Blackbeard even captured another pirate called by the name of Stede Bonnet. Bonnet’s ship was renamed the Royal James. Blackbeard invited Bonnet on to his ship “as a guest” but, really was taken prisoner until Blackbeard’s ship sunk and he died (coincidently) in North Carolina. Bonnet escaped, was captured, escaped, then captured again and hanged.

By: Jack

New Providence

Woodes Rogers in New Providence
New Providence is located in the center of the Bahamas and was in the trade lane for Europe and the West Indies. One of it`s most popular ports was Port Nassau, mostly because no war ship could enter but many pirate ships could. The island also had many coves, inlets, and high hills for look outs. New Providence had a great supply of food, water, and timber.

Sadly, like all pirate bases, New Providence was brought to an end. Assigned by the British parliament, Captain Woodes Rogers was in charge of bringing it down. In 1718, Rogers arrived with three warships which caused most of the population to flee, but some like Charles Vane fought back. Others gave up their lives of piracy and one pirate named Benjamin Hornigold was established as a pirate hunter. A massive pirate hanging in December of 1718 proved that Rogers was serious.

By: Sarah


Map of Madagascar
Madagascar was an excellent pirate base. The island was ideally located for pirate attacks on rich shipping because of the ships that traversed the Mozambique Channel, west of Africa. The island also had a multitude of hidden and sheltered anchorages, and beaches perfect for scraping barnacles off of the boat’s hull. Slave raiding and Indian warfare was a second source of income, along with citrus fruits which were useful to protect pirates from getting scurvy. Madagascar lacked laws and religious morals which also helped piracy thrive. Although Madagascar was perfect for pirates, most of them were poor and despicable.

Madagascar was a good base, but it had to come to an end. Although they were to well enriched to attack, the Europeans set up convoy systems and had war ships patrol near the island. This slowly reduced the number of pirates. Most of the pirates moved away, but some settled and became farmers while taking on native wives. By 1711, only about sixty or seventy pirates remained on the once pirate-filled haven.

By: Sarah

Barataria Bay, Galveston, and Cuba

Hazardous swamps in Mississippi back waters
Barataria is an island in southern Louisiana linked to the Mississippi delta by small rivers, canals, and hidden back waters. It was a pirate base formed by the French pirate Jean Laffite. The haven was protected by hazardous bayous and alligator infested swamps. They also set up an alarm system of informants warned Laffite if he was in danger of attack. All of these protections helped Barataria become a pirate base.

Later, the alarm system failed when two U.S. navy warships located the pirate haven. Jean and the rest of the pirates evade capture but no longer could return to their beloved pirate base. They then moved to Galveston, Texas where they continued piracy. Because of the power struggle for political control over Texas, piracy thrived on the coast of Texas.

By: Sarah

The Far East

map_far_east.jpgPirates have been in China since 589 A.D. One pirate group could control a vast amount of water. One pirate used strategy to become a powerful force. Ching Yih got so many pirates working for him that he could resist an attack even from the Emperor of China. One Emperor allowed pirates to be paid to find other pirates. Some warlords allowed pirates to hide there, like Ching Yih.

By: Jack

The Indonesian Archipelago
Indonesia_map.jpgThe Indonesian Archipelago was an ideal place for pirates. Its many islands and canals made ideal places for pirates to attack. With the route of European merchants going to China, they had many ships to prey upon. There were many fierce groups of pirates, but the Llanun pirates were the worst.

The Llanun mostly captured people and sold them as slaves. The Llanun used prahus, a canoe like boat rowed by slaves. The other main group, the Balani pirates used corocos that used a sail or an oar.

By: Jack