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Spoils Of The New World


Spoils Of The New World
When Spanish explorer Christopher Columbus set sail on what he believed to be a westward route to Asia, no one could have predicted that instead he would stumble across one of the most resource-rich continents in the world.

He returned from the Americas laden with gold, pearls and a strange plant called ‘tobacco’, kick-starting an era of frantic colonisation by Spain and other European powers, including the English, Portuguese and Dutch. They quickly began stripping the new land and sending back ships laden with its bounties.
As wars between the colonisers waged, many settlers and sailors cottoned on to the riches that these galleons had to offer. By the 1630s, buccaneers were in operation in the Caribbean, mostly made up of Frenchmen who had been driven off the island of Hispaniola by the Spanish. They relocated to the island of Tortuga, which provided limited resources on which to live. It was partly in retaliation and partly out of necessity that these buccaneers began attacking Spanish ships, plundering them for every penny.
The English, French and Dutch embraced these newly established pirates as they dealt a much-needed blow to the ever-strengthening Spanish. The English capture of Jamaica only served to bolster piracy, as its early governors semi-legitimised piracy and offered a safe haven in Port Royal – in return for a slice of the precious booty.
Spoils Of The New World

As Spain’s power waned, the appeal of piracy faded with it, and letters stating legitimacy became harder to obtain. The buccaneers needed a new hunting ground. Rumours of ships laden with precious silks and spices sailing unprotected through Indian waters soon reached the rotten bunch, and in 1693, pirate captain Thomas Tew decided to seek one out. Setting sail from Bermuda, Tew cornered the Cape of Good Hope and cruised along the East African coast to the Red Sea, where he ran down a ship sailing from India to the Ottoman Empire. Despite its enormous crew, the ship surrendered and Tew’s pirates helped themselves to £100,000 worth of gold and silver, as well as ivory, spices, gemstones and silk. The route, which was dubbed the Pirate Round, became one of the most profi table on the planet.