British Empire > Fort Charles (Jamaica)

Fort Charles (Jamaica)

Golden Age of Piracy - Chapter Decoration


Fort Charles was a fort that was constructed at the city of Port Royal on the island of British Jamaica located at the coordinates 17.935048°N 76.842475°W. In 1654 Oliver Cromwell sent a naval expedition to conquer the Spanish island of Hispaniola under the command of William Penn and Robert Venables. However, when their attempt to capture the island failed they did not want to return back to England empty handed and thus moved to capture the Colony of Santiago instead.

During the Buccaneering Era the Spanish held Jamaica was one of the only places not fortified and thus was easily open for capture by foreign navies. One of the notable members of this expedition was Henry Morgan. By May of 1655 the British had gained control over the island and began construction on Fort Charles. The fortress itself was built in the shape of a ship and along every other row on the outer wall there are cannons staggered.

Initially the fortress was said to have been called Passage Fort or Fort Cromwell however, the last name it received was Fort Charles in honor of King Charles II of the British Crown. Records show that in 1667 the fortress had 36 guns however, by 1765 it had 104 guns and 500 soldiers in its garrison. The fortress was damaged by both the 1692 Port Royal Earthquake and the 1907 Kingston Earthquake which resulted in the rotating of the Giddy House which is presently a small tourist attraction.

Modern Archaeology

Presently, Fort Charles is still standing despite plenty of hurricanes and earthquakes in the region. Overall not much has changed according to archaeologists other than there is now a museum located inside of the fortress along with all of the original cannons lined up against the outside wall.

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