Spanish Gold: Captain Woodes Rogers &
The Pirates of the Caribbean
By David Cordingly
Published by Bloomsbury Publishing in 2011
Stories of individual pirates in the Caribbean, from Blackbeard to Calico
Jack, have been the stuff of legend since the eighteenth century, but in
Spanish Gold pirate expert David Cordingly at last gives us the big picture
in all its bold and ruthless truth.
Cordingly shows how the attacks of the buccaneers on the treasure ports of
the Spanish Main, and the sacking of Panama by Sir Henry Morgan in
1671, were the prologue to an explosion of piracy which led to the
establishment of a pirate colony at Nassau in the Bahamas. By 1717, so
many ships had been raided and trade so badly disrupted that the merchants
of London had to act.
The man they selected ‘to drive the pirates from their lodgement’ was
Captain Woodes Rogers, himself a former privateer who had sailed round
the world with William Dampier the buccaneer explorer as his pilot.
Woodes Rogers had captured the fabled Manila treasure galleon, and
rescued Alexander Selkirk from a remote Pacific island – indeed, it was his
account of Selkirk’s ordeal that inspired Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe.
Woodes Rogers’ resolute actions as Governor of the Bahamas restored
order to the colony and proved a defining step in the campaign against the
pirates, inspiring the fight-back against men like Blackbeard, Calico Jack
and Bartholomew Roberts, all of whom died in dramatic circumstances.
Played out against the background of fierce colonial rivalry between
Britain, France and Spain, linked with the slave trade, the sugar plantations
of the West Indies, and the fabulously rich trade in gold and silver from the
New World, the true story of the rise and fall of the pirates of the Caribbean
makes for a tale even more interesting and surprising than the legends