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The Original Buccaneers

Across history n' the world o'er there have been many who be dubbed "Pirates!" Sometimes ye will have regional varieties that be immediately identifiable by an age old nickname, such as the Barbary Corsairs. Fer Caribbean Pirates ye would likely hear the term Buccaneer. It's certainly popular enough that arrr own Tampa Bucs use it fer their sports team!

Buccaneers have incredibly humble origins, they did not start out as cut throats n' rogues. In the early 17th Century Hispaniola was home to many French hunters who had no land of thar own, who made their living huntin' n' barbecuing wild boar n' other creatures. Thar Smoke Huts were referred to as boucanes, where they cooked all of the meat they harvested from the local wild life usin' Native Caribbean techniques. Effectively they cooked the predecessor to Jerked Meat, as well as Jerky!

Off the coast of these wild islands the "Boucaniers" would see Spanish Treasure ships returning to Europe with New World Riches, as well as the raiders n' early Caribbean pirates that would prey on their cargo. The hunters sold their meats to the pirates n' it didn't take them too long for many o' them to teach the pirates to cook Buccaneer style, n' for the Hunters to learn how to be Pirates!

Usin' thar small sailin' vessels meant to deftly navigate Caribbean islands they learned to creep aboard Spanish merchant ships n' became natural enemies of the Empire. O'ertime the Anglicized word Buccaneer became synonymous with Pirate or Privateer regardless o' nation.

Fer much o' the 17th Century Hispaniola became a large point o' contention between these Buccaneers n' the Spanish. One o' the most popular pirate havens, Tortuga was on a small isle off the northwest coast of Haiti, it was a popular hangout for French Buccaneers!

A History of Tortuga

The settlement o' Tortuga has been featured prominently in Pirate Fiction o'er time, it's time to learn a little about this humble island! While Port Royal n' Nassau were much more prominent pirate ports, we shouldn't forget that Tortuga also has its own Pirate History.

Tortuga Island (Turtle Island) was a small island off the coast of Modern Haiti, or Hispanola as it was dubbed in the Colonial Era. Allegedly, when Christopher Colombus sailed into the Caribbean in 1492, he saw the Island n' named it for its Turtle shell shape.

It picked up a small colony of Spanish settlers, but it was lightly populated until French n' English colonists arrived around 1625. The new settlers meant to make a life in Hispanola but hadn't thought about the Spanish Military's presence. The Spanish occupied the Island, building a fort after they drove off the colonists. Whenever the military drove off one group of colonists another would appear somewhere else on Hispanola, causing Garrisons to shuffle around n' leave unoccupied forts fer opportunists!

The French saw this n' stole the fort to gain a foothold in the area in 1630, they also shared it with English n' Dutch colonists. The island went through 10 tumultuous years of revolting slaves, Spanish invasions, n' more before "The Brethren of the Coast" made themselves an official organization. It was a short lived group that the Spanish stamped out, but pirates began to call the island home. It was the Fourth and Final time Spain occupied the Island before England n' France reclaimed the territory in 1655. France removed the English citizens and maintained a hold until 1676 when the island was abandoned.

Throughout the 17th Century pirates would spring up from Tortuga however. Henry Morgan drew a sizable contingent of French Pirates from Tortuga in 1670 for a campaign in Cuba. France let their pirates run amok, so Tortuga was an excellent place to stash treasure in the formerly Spanish Fortifications.