Golden Age of Piracy > Timeline of Piracy
Timeline of Piracy
Piracy in the Caribbean cannot simply be attributed to a short span of time with any one pirate. Ever since the Spanish laid claim to the entire region it was up for contention. Piracy began in the Buccaneering Era and moved into the privateering era and eventually the Post Spanish Succession period with a few Pirate Rounds tossed in there. Each time period was unique and was created by variables and situations present at the time. However, by the mid 1720's piracy would die out for good as the Imperial navies grew to combat the pirates and they dispensed with privateering as a means of war. This is a comprehensive timeline of nearly every important event in the history of the Golden Age of Piracy.
It is good to look at the entire period from a broad perspective in order to understand the overall themes and interactions between the pirates and the conditions which precipitated the rise of their deadly and lucrative trade. It is important to understand the Spanish influence in the area as the main cause for piracy, coupled with prolonged and brutal wars in Europe which gave rise to privateering and eventually full scale piracy. The Spanish Main was the principle political power in the New World that was the main source of 'food' for the pirates to feed off of.
15th & 16th Centuries
1492 - Christopher Columbus discovers the continents of North and South America along with the West Indies and claims them for the Spanish Empire. From this point on Spain begins colonizing the entire region.
1519 - Ferdinand Magellan circumnavigates the globe for the first time.
1521 - Fall of Tenochtitlan and the end of the Aztec empire. Spain begins full scale plundering of the gold and treasures of their civilization.
1531 - Francisco Pizarro conquers the Inca civilization and sends back massive amounts of gold and silver looted from their civilization.
1577 - Francis Drake begins the second circumnavigation of the world.
1588 - Spanish Armada is destroyed.
1605 - Gunpowder plot against the King of England by Guy Fawkes.
1618 - Start of the Thirty Years War, a prolonged engagement between England, France and Spain in Europe. This war had major implications for the New World.
1624 - The British establish the first settlement at Saint Kitts.
1635 - The French build a settlement at Martinique.
1648 - End of the Thirty Years War with the Treaty of Ryswick. This marked the beginning of the buccaneering era as most "pirates" then were considered privateers. This year also marks the end of the Eighty Years War with the Dutch Republic.
1650's - English and French buccaneers begin attacking Spanish ports and using ships to raid and board the Spanish trading ships starting the Buccaneering Era.
1655 - English leader Oliver Cromwell sends the Royal Navy to capture Santo Domingo on the island of Hispaniola. They end up taking over the Colony of Santiago, also known as Spanish Jamaica instead and establishing Port Royal. Many buccaneers needing a home after the fall of Tortuga flock there in the coming years.
1664 - Henry Morgan begins his first two year privateering expedition.
1683 - Buccaneers sack the city of Veracruz and make off with nearly 800,000 pieces of eight.
August 25th, 1688 - Henry Morgan dies
1695 - Henry Every and Thomas Tew capture the treasure laden Grand Mughal convoy heading to Mecca to make the pilgrimage. Tew was killed in the engagement and the successful capture of the convoy by Every makes this is one of the largest heists in history rated at nearly £600,000.
1700 - The first Pirate Round ends.
1701 – Trial and execution William Kidd.
1701 - War of the Spanish Succession begins. Spain is becoming increasingly bankrupt at this point and would continue to decline until its collapse in 1790.
8 March 1702 - Anne Bonny is born
1713 - Treaty of Utrecht was signed which meant the end of the War of Spanish Succession and the start of the major 18th century pirates. This era was called the post Spanish succession period when hundreds of unemployed sailors and privateers turned to piracy to survive.
Flying Gang Emerges
1715 - The Spanish Treasure Fleet sinks off the coast of La Florida prompting many pirates from Nassau to raid the salvage efforts of the Spanish. This is one of the first successes of Charles Vane, Henry Jennings and Samuel Bellamy.
February 1717 - Samuel Bellamy and his crew capture the Whydah, one of the most state of the art sailing ships of the time.
26 April 1717 - Samuel Bellamy and most of his crew aboard the Whydah perish in a hurricane off the coast of Cape Code when the treasure laden ship capsizes.
October 1718 - The crews of Charles Vane and Edward 'Blackbeard' Teach meet up to have a week long party at Blackbeard's hideout on Ocracoke Island off the coast of the Province of North Carolina. Charles Vane attempts to recruit Blackbeard to take back Nassau but Blackbeard is not interested
1719 - Benjamin Hornigold is killed somewhere between New Providence and Mexico as his ship was caught in a storm and wrecked on an uncharted reef. Bartholomew Roberts is also conscripted into Howell Davis' pirate crew. After his death he assumes captaincy and leadership of the crew.
1721 - England passes the Piracy Act which punishes merchants or other people who aid or trade with pirates.
29 March 1721 - Charles Vane executed by the British government for piracy.
April 1721 - Mary Read dies during childbirth in her cell.
10 February 1722 – Death of Bartholomew Roberts by pirate hunter Chaloner Ogle. This is considered the end of the Golden Age of Piracy but the actual practice would continue for another century or so.
1724 - Captain Robert Johnson publishes one of the only primary source documents of the time, A General History of the Pyrates.
1733 - Spanish Treasure Fleet sinks after a hurricane.
1775 - American War of Independence. This begins a cascade of revolutions across Europe and the Americas.