Golden Age of Piracy > Timeline of Piracy

Timeline of Piracy

Golden Age of Piracy - Chapter Decoration


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.

1560 - Pedro Menéndez de Avilés comes up with the conventional idea for the Spanish galleon, reviving Spanish hegemony in the region.

1560's - The Spanish wipe out the first French settlement named Saint Caroline in northern La Florida, pushing them to the isle of Hispaniola.

1568 - The Dutch Republic begin the Eighty Years War, a revolution for independence from the Habsburg Kings of Spain.

1577 - Francis Drake begins the second circumnavigation of the world.

1588 - Spanish Armada is destroyed.

17th Century

1605 - Gunpowder plot against the King of England by Guy Fawkes.

1607 - The settlement at Jamestown in North America creates the Colony & Dominion of Virginia and the first English colony in the New World.

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.

1622 - The treasure galleon Nuestra Señora de Atocha sinks off the coast of La Florida.

1624 - The British establish the first settlement at Saint Kitts.

1625 - A small group of remaining French hunters fleeing the Spanish massacre at Saint Caroline establish a colony on Tortuga. The Spanish attempt to reclaim the island many times.

1627 - The British build a settlement on the island of Barbados. The French also build a settlement at Guadeloupe.

1628 - Dutch privateer Piet Pieterszoon Hein captures the whole Spanish Treasure Fleet and brings its entire cargo back to the Netherlands.

1634 - The Dutch Republic seizes the island of Curacao from the Spanish Empire.

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.

1653 - The French governor of Tortuga named Jean le Vasseur is assassinated and replaced by Chevalier de Fontenay.

1654 - The Spanish invade Tortuga twice and ultimately destroy Fort de Rocher after a nine day siege of the buccaneers. They would be banished and the island ceased to be a pirate haven.

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.

1667 - Henry Morgan sacks Puerto Principe.

July, 1667 - Francois L’Ollonais also begins his buccaneering career by capturing a Spanish galleon carrying a large load of treasure. He then goes on to sack Maracaibo and Gibraltar.

1668 - Henry Morgan leads the raid of Portobello, becoming a successful and well known buccaneer in the process. Francois L’Ollonais is brutally killed by cannibal natives.

1669 - Henry Morgan sacks the Spanish cities of Cartagena de Indias and Maracaibo.

1671 - Henry Morgan sacks and burns Panama Viejo.

1678 - Alexander Exquemelin’s first hand account of his expeditions with Henry Morgan, The Buccaneers of America is first published.

1680 - Charles Vane and Edward 'Blackbeard' Teach are born.

1683 - Buccaneers sack the city of Veracruz and make off with nearly 800,000 pieces of eight.

1688 - Stede Bonnet is born. The Nine Years War begins with France, Ireland, and Scotland vs Spain, England, and the Dutch Republic.

August 25th, 1688 - Henry Morgan dies

June 7th, 1692 - Port Royal is mostly destroyed by the 1692 Port Royal Earthquake, forcing the colonists to rebuild at Kingston.

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.

1697 - French buccaneers capture the city of Cartagena de Indias and the citizens pay 8,000,000 in treasure in order to have them spare the city. The Nine Years War also ends.

18th Century

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

1713 - Pirates such a Henry Jennings, Benjamin Hornigold, Charles Vane, Edward 'Blackbeard' Teach establish the pirate republic at Nassau.

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.

May 1718 - Edward 'Blackbeard' Teach blockades the harbor of Charles Town in the Province of South Carolina in an effort to get valuable medical supplies.

5 September, 1718 - Woodes Rogers grants pardons to more than six hundred pirates including Benjamin Hornigold and Henry Jennings with the 1718 Kings Pardon.

September 1718 - Charles Vane destroys the blockade of Nassau by Woodes Rogers with a fireship and escapes to freedom with his crew.

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

22 November 1718 – Edward 'Blackbeard' Teach died in battle with pirate hunter Robert Maynard.

10 December 1718 - Stede Bonnet hung in Charles Town in the Province of South Carolina.

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.

October 1720 – Pirate hunter Jonathan Barnet capture 'Calico' Jack Rackham, Anne Bonny and Mary Read.

18 November 1720 - 'Calico' Jack Rackham was executed at Port Royal and gibbeted in the area now known as Rackham's Cay.

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.

1722 - Largest trial of 268 pirates of Bartholomew Roberts Crew who sailed with Bartholomew Roberts in Cape Coast Castle in West Africa.

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.

1790 - Termination of the Casa de Contratación and the end of the Spanish Treasure Fleet.

Timeline of Piracy

15th Century

16th Century

17th Century

18th Century


Primary Sources

Secondary Sources