In the midst of it all, buccaneers and privateers were poorly generalized as simple pirates. However, “pirate” is a hackneyed term that is slightly ambiguous. What most people don’t know is that three hundred years ago, these beings appeared in different situations throughout the Golden Age of Piracy. Many of these individuals from this period lived in separate parts of the world, completing different assignments for different reasons. Although buccaneers and privateers both engaged in piracy, whether it was legal or not, they were inequivalent in erms of background, purpose, and operation.
Amid the Caribbean, buccaneers with keen marksmanship hunted wild cattle and boar on the island of Hispaniola. These men were brutal, burly beings that could live throughout the harshest of environments. They constructed boucans, or grills, to smoke and sell their meat to passing ships (Minster 1). Similar to the Native Americans, the buccaneers used just about every part of the animal they slaughtered. They used hog skin as boots and belts made out of rawhide (Bradford 82). Buccaneers were simple people, yet their lives were barbarous.
Carnivorous as they were, the meal they found most pleasurable was the bone marrow of their vulnerable victims; “brandy,” as they had called it (Bradford 82). Besides feasting upon wild cattle, the buccaneers found it more useful to scour the seas and follow the ships that were laden with treasure. Before beginning an expedition, the entire crew swore an oath on the Bible to refrain from stowing away any part of the loot, or else he may find himself banished without any part of the shares (Bradford 86). If insufficient shares were a problem, then a duel would commence.
Every rew member had to supply his own materials to fight with which included: a cutlass, a gun, some powder, and shot (Bradford 85). Other arrangements made by the crew were destinations of travel and how much each person received. Usually, the captain amassed the most pieces of plunder, and anybody seriously injured received the most compensation; the cabin boys typically got handed the fewest shares (Bradford 86). But, this act of plundering didn’t just materialize. It all originated from an incident that was led by a Frenchman named Peter the Great and continuous indignation by the Spanish.
By selling their barbecue to the Spanish traders, the buccaneers engendered an ongoing threat to the economy of the Spanish government. The Spanish people weren’t supposed to be trading with anyone other than themselves, so the their government tried to exterminate the buccaneers by ordering their traders to kill them off. So, the preferred option of elimination was hunting the buccaneers down and burning them at the stake (Bradford 82). But, the persevering buccaneers refused to capitulate. The brutal pressure put on the men by the Spanish only incensed he buccaneers more, giving rise to their ensuing targets, the Spanish themselves.
Also provoking the detestation was a fortuitous, yet courageous act of Peter the Great. This Frenchman had a crew of twenty-eight men and a small boat that was headed for home (Bradford 85). Luckily, the crew spotted a Spanish flagship, and they decided to pursue it. While it was dark, the buccaneers caught the crew completely off guard by climbing up the side of the boat, and they assumed authority of the ship thereafter. They sailed it victoriously back o France and obtained a privateer’s commission so that they could sell the vessel legally and live in prosperity for the rest of their lives (Bradford 85).
This anecdote exemplifies how the buccaneers came to be more than just buccaneers. Peter the Great influenced more prominent ones. He gave them purpose. While buccaneers were ransacking ports, there were others during this period that were executing similar tasks. These people were different than the buccaneers in many ways. Their history and ways of life were unalike; nevertheless, they shared an abstract purpose. Therefore, we come to privateers. Predominantly, a privateer is a man who is sanctioned by his nation’s government to plunder the enemy’s ships and ports while at war.
Another explanation of a privateer is the ship itself (Minster 1). They came to be known as privateers because they were commissioned privately to seek out fortunes from their enemies. Privateers were basically legal pirates, yet not at the same time. They were men and women who were simply looking for riches and a chance for adventure at sea. One of the most important proponents to the voyage was the armateur. This person managed and hired the whole ship and crew, and he tended to all the financial aspects (Crowhurst 48). The success of the excursion depended chiefly upon him.
Furthermore, his abilities to scout and seize the rival ships had to be of high caliber. Shareholders of privateer ships had to help pay for the expenses that arose during the voyage (Crowhurst 49). Some expenses could be providing an effective food supply for the crew or accidental damages to the ship (Crowhurst 49). In order to keep the shareholders content, the armateur had to keep his eyes peeled for anything that could hinder the success f the trip. Fundamentally, privateers could loot and raid the enemy for their own profit under an illustrious contract.
The letter of marque entailed an explicit contractual relationship between the state and its merchants… ” (Gathmann and Hillmann 7). This letter defined the home nation’s property rights as valid and the enemy’s as void (Gathmann and Hillmann 7). A merchant vessel could transform into a privateer if given a few cannons and men. Sometimes, the more daring merchants built their ships wholly for the purpose of collecting prizes (Tabarrok 566). Privateers were not considered pirates in the fact that pirates raided without consent, while privateers had accommodations.
Even with this consent, the privateers had to have more than reasonable means to sack and raid the ships they did, other than just for the profit. In war times, the governing nations depended upon these private cooperatives to help win the wars because their navies were expensive (Tabarrok 566). Given that, the governments tended to expend less money by utilizing their domestic resources-the privateers. Like a mutual symbiosis, the government benefitted by having he privateers conquer the enemy, while the privateers gained the plunder of their raids.
Now, should a merchant be thieved by the enemy, he or she could apply for a permit from the government to restore what was lost (Tabarrok 566). This gave way to letters of marque being issued in great quantities, thus helping the war effort. But, the sole purpose wasn’t just for fighting; privateers worked outside of warring, too. Accordingly, normal privateering could arise in any situation where there were riches to be made. Of course, one would have to obtain a etter of marque first, but the privateers wouldn’t have to be caught up in the middle of a war to be able to carry out their regular duties.
During peaceful times, the privateers still set out on their normal “cruises” (Tabarrok 566). The legality of the act of privateering proved effectual in the progress of each nation. Privateering opened up new job opportunities for merchants who were doing poorly and those who needed a sense of adventure. They were ambitious merchants who were determined to make a living by plundering. Although both could be generalized as pirates, the privateers and the buccaneers eren’t very much alike.
While one was set upon downright pillaging, the other was seeking gain through the enemy for more reasonable purposes. The buccaneers were primarily composed of Frenchmen living on the island of Hispaniola, while the privateers were from western Europe who came down to the Caribbean and elsewhere to seek their treasures. Both were hunters for success, yet the privateers had more determination than the buccaneers, who primarily roasted hogs and plundered ports. Therefore, the buccaneers could be considered pirates, while privateers had no such issue.