Primary Sources > De Americaensche Zee-Roovers

De Americaensche Zee-Roovers

Golden Age of Piracy - Chapter Decoration


De Americaensche Zee-Roovers, known in English as the 'Buccaneers of America' is the major primary source document regarding the history and biographies of the most famous buccaneers during the Buccaneering Era. Written by the surgeon of Henry Morgan on his expeditions named Alexander Exquemelin it provides one of the best first hand insights into the major buccaneering raids of the late 17th century. The only other book that comes close to its significance is Captain Charles Johnson's primary source work A General History of Pyrates (1724).

It was first printed in Dutch in 1678 and instantly became popular among the population of Europe. It was quickly translated into every other major language in the region. It was translated into German in 1679, being a faithful reproduction of the Dutch original. It was later translated into Spanish with many additions. The Spanish version would be translated into English in 1684 which included the deviations from the original Dutch version.

Next De Americaensche Zee-Roovers was translated into French in 1686 which greatly added new buccaneers and updated many of the other biographies. The French version also rearranged some of the sections and included a lot of new information. New editions as well as translations make the bibliographic legacy of this book one of the most confusing of all history.

The book is famous for providing the biographies and exploits of the most famous buccaneers of the era including Henry Morgan, Francois L'Ollonais, Roc Brasiliano, Bartholomew Sharp and many others. A complete list of buccaneers mentioned in this work is given below. Without the documentation of many of these events we may never know the true details of the major exploits of the buccaneers. Not many people in the 17th century were literate so there were not many documents that accurately described how the era played out.

As new editions and translations were published they freely included many new biographies, updates and other information not included in the original work. The 1974 translation by the Danish historian and author named Erik Kjærsgaard does a great job of comparing the original Dutch 1678 copy with the 1686 French translation. Overall this book is one of the best accounts of the buccaneers and since it was written by someone who is personally there much credibility is given to the weight of the content within its pages.