Ancient history


Last updated:2022-07-25

The denomination of buccaneer was specific to the Caribbean. They appeared around 1630 and lasted until the end of the piracy period around 1730. The first buccaneers were often escapees from the colonies. Originally coureurs de bois on the island of Hispaniola (present-day Santo Domingo and Haiti), they hunted wild oxen. The meat was prepared in the native way, that is to say, dried and smoked on a kind of wooden grill:the boucan (barbacoa in Spanish, after barbicoa in the Arawak Indian language, which gives barbecue). Hence the terms buccaneer and buccaneer. This preserved meat made it possible to trade with passing ships or isolated colonies. After being driven out of Hispaniola by the Spaniards, the buccaneers found refuge on the island of the Turtle (Tortuga), at the time a French possession, located northwest of Hispaniola, from 1663. They operated with partial support of non-Spanish colonies and their activity remained legal or partially legal until the 1700s.

Forced to survive on few resources, they were skilled in shipbuilding, navigation and hunting. They were considered fierce fighters and were known to be experts in the use of flintlock rifles (invented in 1615). However, the function of these weapons was so uncertain that their use in combat was not very common until 1670. They were engaged in shore expeditions organized by pirates like Henry Morgan.

A great solidarity reigned between them and decisions were made jointly for the benefit of the community. This is partly at the origin of the democratic rules in force on board pirate ships.

Like the buccaneers, communities of lumberjacks had established themselves in Honduras to fell and sell precious woods under the nose and beard of the Spaniards. Along with the buccaneers and buccaneers, they constituted the community of the Brothers of the Coast. It was easy to switch from one profession to another, which explains why the term buccaneer is often mistakenly synonymous with pirate.

Note:the confusion also comes from the English or the term used to designate the pirates of the Caribbean is bucaneer or possibly freebooter, while the term filibuster designates Anglo-American mercenary adventurers of the 19th century engaged in actions of savage colonization with the intention to overthrow the government in place (the colonization of Texas for example).

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