X-Message-Number: 19657
Date: Tue, 30 Jul 2002 20:33:05 -0400
From: Robin Helweg-Larsen <>
Subject: Re: Pirates and Piety (off-topic)
References: <>

Peter Merel writes:

> Yvan Bozzonetti writes,
> > How do you know that? At a time, caribean pirates was the richest
> > organization in the world. What remains from that today?
> Actually the Carribean pirates were far from the richest organization in
> the world. Their society had three periods of great success:
> - The insurgency against the Spanish under Drake
> - The rise of Port Royal as a Buccaneer capitol following Morgan's sack
> of Panama
> - The "Golden Age" a generation later epitomized by the exploits of
> Roberts and Blackbeard

My guess is that Yvan is referring to the Golden Age; but not just to the 
pirates' Caribbean operations, also to their spill-over into the Indian Ocean, 
the capture of fabulously wealthy Muslim pilgrims and the Mughal Empire's 
treasure fleet, abduction of a princess, and establishment of new operational 
bases in Madagascar.

The pirates as a whole were hardly a single organisation; and they wouldn't have
been richer than the governments that they were pillaging; but possibly at some
point their combined wealth was greater than anything other than a 
government's.  Greater than other non-governmental organisations like the 
Hudson's Bay Company, for example, or than any wealthy private family.

But the Golden Age of Piracy was an anomaly.  Sparked by the mass lay-offs in 
European navies at the end of the War of the Spanish Succession (aka Queen 
Anne's War) in 1713, it only lasted a few years before the British Navy and 
others wiped the pirates out.

To get back on topic, the pirates had no organisation, and no one really 
expected them to last; they don't really count as a 'rich organisation that 
failed to last'.

Robin HL

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