Pirate Havens > Ile Sainte-Marie
Ile Sainte-Marie (Île Saint-Marie), known in English as Saint Mary's Island was a famous pirate haven off the coast of Madagascar that began in 1685 following the development of the first Pirate Round. Ile Saint-Marie would grow greatly following the destruction of Port Royal following the catastrophic 1692 Port Royal Earthquake and many surviving pirates flocked to the Pirate Round as there were not many safe havens left in the West Indies at the end of the Buccaneering Era.
Ile Sainte-Marie was an essential pirate port because it provided great access to the Portuguese, Dutch, British and Spanish shipping lanes that were returning back to the capital ports to deposit their treasure. Along with abundant resources on the island and secure bays for pirates to careen their ships and rest ashore the island of Madagascar as a whole was remote enough to be generally outside the scope of royal authority during the early centuries of the golden age of piracy.
Starting with the pirate merchant Adam Baldridge the island of Madagascar grew to become a reputable pirate republic that was supplied regularly due to connections with Frederick Philipse in New York City. The island-fortress of île aux Forbans near the major town of Ambodifotatra was home to many of the most infamous pirates including Henry Every, William Kidd, Thomas Tew, Olivier Levasseur, Robert Culliford, Abraham Samuel and many others.
While not as popular as the pirate haunts in the West Indies such as Tortuga and Nassau the importance of the pirates on Madagascar cannot be understated. The biggest pirate hauls were made in the Indian Ocean and some of the most infamous pirates plied their trade in this region. By the 1690's the island of Ile Saint-Marie had a population of 1,500 and there was a growing smuggling operation growing between the island and the colonies of British North America at the capital cities of Boston and New York City.
The British colonies were severely restricted by the mercantilist economic model and therefore loved the exotic goods coming from the East Indies. For the stolen pirate goods the colonies would supply Madagascar with clothing, food and other supplies necessary to continue their freebooting enterprise. When Adam Baldrige would leave the island it would go into decline however, pirates would still live in the region all throughout the following centuries, especially during the second pirate round.