Spanish Empire > Gibraltar


Golden Age of Piracy - Chapter Decoration


Gibraltar, also known as San Antonio de Gibraltar was a Spanish settlement located on Lake Maracaibo that was founded in February of 1592 by Gonzalo Piña Ludueña and inspired by the territory of Gibraltar in Europe. There was already a Gibraltar that had been established previously in 1516 but it was destroyed due to pirates and conflicts with the natives. The settlement was a major exportation center of cacao and was sacked many times throughout its history by buccaneers and pirates. The agricultural development around Lake Maracaibo originally occurred in 1499 with its discovery and over time more Spanish colonists arrived eventually with slaves to help manage the plantations.

The city of Gibraltar became a major exporting city along the Spanish Main and this made it also a prime target for buccaneers as well. The trade of cocoa was extremely lucrative in the 17th century and developed under the guidance of the Jesuits. The city of Gibraltar grew very wealthy with its exports to both New Spain and back to Spain in Europe. The need for cheap manual labor resulted in slaves being brought to the island to work the plantations. Gibraltar was also known to be a major exporting center for the legal snuff known as varinas that was shipped through mule train over the Venezuelan Andes.

Buccaneering Era

The growing wealth of the city led it to become a prized target for buccaneers launching raids on Spanish settlements during the Buccaneering Era. The first buccaneer to launch a raid on the city of Gibraltar was William Jackson who in 1642 brought eleven ships and over a thousand buccaneers to bear on the city. Gibraltar would experience several decades of peace but eventually in would be pillaged again in 1667 when Francois L'Ollonais led a campaign to sacked the city. For his efforts L'Ollonais received a ransom payment of 20,000 pieces of eight, 500 heads of cattle, and plundered the city itself for 260,000 pieces of eight, jewels, gold, silver, silks and slaves.

Following him was Henry Morgan about two years later in 1669 when he sacked both Gibraltar and neighboring Maracaibo. Finally Gibraltar was sacked a third time by the buccaneer named Michel de Grammont who plundered the city in 1678. The buccaneers under Grammont plundered the entire region as far as Trujillo. Due to the successive damage of the buccaneer raids the city ceased to exist by 1680.

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