History in the Caribbean

Topics: Caribbean, Spain, Piracy Pages: 8 (2143 words) Published: April 15, 2013
In the 16th century, the Spanish empire in the Americas was been challenged by the French, British and Dutch. There were 4 main reasons why Spain was challenged in the Americas

1) European nations such as France and England thought that it was unfair of the Pope Alexander VI to have divided the world only between Spain and Portugal. They wanted a share of the lands in the Americas which was unoccupied by the Spaniards and were willing to fight them for it.

2) Many nations in Europe were dissatisfied with the fact that only Spain was allowed to acquire tremendous wealth. They therefore felt it was necessary to use privateers to attack Spanish merchant fleets in the Americas and to seize their wealthy cargo of gold etc.

3) In the early 16th century a period called the reformation occurred. This was when a priest Martin Luther broke away from the Catholic Church and influence several nations such as England and Holland to become Protestants. Eventually it was carried over to the Americas where Catholic Spain was attack by protestants England and Holland

4) Finally the Dutch also began fighting the Spaniards who ruled over them in Europe. They carried their fight for independence over the Americas by using Dutch privateers to attack Spanish ships in the Americas.


Pirates – were English, French and Dutch seamen who in the 16th century attack ship of any nationality in the Caribbean. They were not protected by law and if were caught they could be hang.

Privateers – were English, French and Dutch seamen who in the 16th century had a letter of Marque from the Queen/King which authorized them to attack Spanish ship in the Americas. This letter protected them when captured by the enemy for they could not be hanged.

Smugglers – British, French and Dutch men who engaged in illegal trading with Spanish colonist by providing them with goods which Spain herself could not provide to her colonies e.g.: John Hawkins engage in illegal trade with the Spanish colonist by supplying goods such as slaves.

Buccaneers – English seamen who in 17th century were first engaged in stealing cattle and bar-be-quing the meat (bucan). They then turn to illegally attacking Spanish in the Caribbean. They had no letter of marquee and so if captured they could be hanged.

English Privateers

Sir John Hawkins – one of the English’s most famous privateers. Like his father William Hawkins, John Hawkins conducted the triangular trade by first leaving England with manufacturing goods and then going to West Africa to trade the manufactured goods for slaves. He then left West Africa with the slaves and headed for the Spanish colonies where he conducted illegal trade with the colonies by supplying them with slaves and in return receiving hides, sugar and bullion for example he forcedly traded the Spanish colonies of Margarita, Santa Fe and Rio de la Hacha. By doing this he was helping to break down the Spanish monopoly in the Americas

Sir Francis Drake – was Hawkins cousin who was also illegally traded with the Spanish colonies by forcing them to trade in goods, with the threat of capturing their towns and killing them. Besides illegal trading, Drake was also engaged in privateering e.g. in 1572 under Operation Isthmus, Drake was able to successfully capture the Spanish mule train carrying silver from Panama to Nombre de Dios. He captured so much treasure that he had to bury some since his ship could not take it all.

As well Drake was also noted for attacking Spanish towns e.g: he captured and burnt down Santo Domingo and Cartagena in 1586 and finally in n 1595 he also captured Santa Marta and Nombre de Dios.

French challenged to Spanish Monopoly

There were four noted French Privateers who help to break down the Spanish monopoly in the Caribbean. This included Jean Anjo, Jean Fleury, Francois Le...
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