The Buccaneers in the West Indies in the XVII Century
by Clarence Henry Haring
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First Published in 1910


The principal facts about the exploits of the English and French buccaneers of the seventeenth century in the West Indies are sufficiently well known to modern readers. The French Jesuit historians of the Antilles have left us many interesting details of their mode of life, and Exquemelin's history of the freebooters has been reprinted numerous times both in France and in England. Based upon these old, contemporary narratives, modern accounts are issued from the press with astonishing regularity, some of them purporting to be serious history, others appearing in the more popular and entertaining guise of romances. All, however, are alike in confining themselves for their information to what may almost be called the traditional sources—Exquemelin, the Jesuits, and perhaps a few narratives like those of Dampier and Wafer. To write another history of these privateers or pirates, for they have, unfortunately, more than once deserved that name, may seem a rather fruitless undertaking. It is justified only by the fact that there exist numerous other documents bearing upon the subject, documents which till now have been entirely neglected. Exquemelin has been reprinted, the story of the buccaneers has been re-told, yet no writer, whether editor or historian, has attempted to estimate the trustworthiness of the old tales by comparing them with these other sources, or to show the connection between the buccaneers and the history of the English colonies in the West Indies. The object of this volume, therefore, is not only to give a narrative, according to the most authentic, available sources, of the more brilliant exploits of these sea-rovers, but, what is of greater interest and importance, to trace the policy pursued toward them by the English and French Governments.

The "Buccaneers in the West Indies" was presented as a thesis to the Board of Modern History of Oxford University in May 1909 to fulfil the requirements for the degree of Bachelor of Letters. It was written under the supervision of C.H. Firth, Regius Professor of Modern History in Oxford, and to him the writer owes a lasting debt of gratitude for his unfailing aid and sympathy during the course of preparation.


Oxford, 1910




I. Introductory— Part I.—The Spanish Colonial System 1 Part II.—The Freebooters of the Sixteenth Century 28 II. The Beginnings of the Buccaneers 57 III. The Conquest of Jamaica 85 IV. Tortuga, 1655-1664 113 V. Porto Bello and Panama 120 VI. The Government Suppresses the Buccaneers 200 VII. The Buccaneers Turn Pirate 232 Appendices 273-74 Bibliography 275 Index 289


Map of the West Indies Frontispiece From Charlevoix' Histoire de S. Domingue.


Spanish Periagua 1

From Exquemelin's Histoire des Aventuriers Trevoux, 1744.

Buccaneer Vessels 76

From Exquemelin's Histoire des Aventuriers Trevoux, 1744.

A Correct Map of Jamaica 85

From the Royal Magazine, 1760.

Map of San Domingo 86

From Charlevoix' Histoire de S. Domingue.

Plan of the Bay and Town of Portobelo 154

From Prevost d'Exiles' Voyages.

The Isthmus of Darien 164

From Exquelmelin's Bucaniers, 1684-5.

'The Battel between the Spaniards and the pyrats or Buccaniers before the Citty of Panama' 166

From Exquemelin's Bucaniers of America, 1684-5.

Plan of Vera-Cruz 242

From Charlevoix' Histoire de S. Domingue, 1730.

Plan of the Town and Roadstead of Cartegena and of the Forts 264

From Baron de Pontis' Relation de ce qui c'est fait la prise de Carthagene, Bruxelles, 1698.





At the time of the discovery of America the Spaniards, as M. Leroy-Beaulieu has remarked, were perhaps less fitted than any other nation of western Europe for the task of American colonization. Whatever may have been the political role thrust upon them in the sixteenth century by the Hapsburg marriages, whatever certain historians may say of the grandeur and nobility of the Spanish national character, Spain was then neither rich nor populous, nor industrious. For centuries she had been called upon to wage a continuous warfare with the Moors, and during this time had not only found little leisure to cultivate the arts of peace, but had acquired a disdain for manual work which helped to mould her colonial administration and influenced all her subsequent history. And when the termination of the last of these wars left her mistress of a united Spain, and the exploitation of her own resources seemed to require all the energies she could muster, an entire new hemisphere was suddenly thrown open to her, and given into her hands by a papal decree to possess and populate. Already weakened by the exile of the most sober and industrious of her population, the Jews; drawn into a foreign policy for which she had neither the means nor the inclination; instituting at home an economic policy which was almost epileptic in its consequences, she found her strength dissipated, and gradually sank into a condition of economic and political impotence.

Christopher Columbus, a Genoese sailor in the service of the Castilian Crown, wishing to find a western route by sea to India and especially to Zipangu (Japan), the magic land described by the Venetian traveller, Marco Polo, landed on 12th October 1492, on "Guanahani," one of the Bahama Islands. From "Guanahani" he passed on to other islands of the same group, and thence to Hispaniola, Tortuga and Cuba. Returning to Spain in March 1493, he sailed again in September of the same year with seventeen vessels and 1500 persons, and this time keeping farther to the south, sighted Porto Rico and some of the Lesser Antilles, founded a colony on Hispaniola, and discovered Jamaica in 1494. On a third voyage in 1498 he discovered Trinidad, and coasted along the shores of South America from the Orinoco River to the island of Margarita. After a fourth and last voyage in 1502-04, Columbus died at Valladolid in 1506, in the firm belief that he had discovered a part of the Continent of Asia.

The entire circle of the Antilles having thus been revealed before the end of the fifteenth century, the Spaniards pushed forward to the continent. While Hojida, Vespucci, Pinzon and de Solis were exploring the eastern coast from La Plata to Yucatan, Ponce de Leon in 1512 discovered Florida, and in 1513 Vasco Nunez de Balboa descried the Pacific Ocean from the heights of Darien, revealing for the first time the existence of a new continent. In 1520 Magellan entered the Pacific through the strait which bears his name, and a year later was killed in one of the Philippine Islands. Within the next twenty years Cortez had conquered the realm of Montezuma, and Pizarro the empire of Peru; and thus within the space of two generations all of the West Indies, North America to California and the Carolinas, all of South America except Brazil, which the error of Cabral gave to the Portuguese, and in the east the Philippine Islands and New Guinea passed under the sway of the Crown of Castile.

Ferdinand and Isabella in 1493 had consulted with several persons of eminent learning to find out whether it was necessary to obtain the investiture of the Pope for their newly-discovered possessions, and all were of opinion that this formality was unnecessary.[1] Nevertheless, on 3rd May 1493, a bull was granted by Pope Alexander VI., which divided the sovereignty of those parts of the world not possessed by any Christian prince between Spain and Portugal by a meridian line 100 leagues west of the Azores or of Cape Verde. Later Spanish writers made much of this papal gift; yet, as Georges Scelle points out,[2] it is possible that this bull was not so much a deed of conveyance, investing the Spaniards with the proprietorship of America, as it was an act of ecclesiastical jurisdiction according them, on the strength of their acquired right and proven Catholicism, a monopoly as it were in the propagation of the faith. At that time, even Catholic princes were no longer accustomed to seek the Pope's sanction when making a new conquest, and certainly in the domain of public law the Pope was not considered to have temporal jurisdiction over the entire world. He did, however, intervene in temporal matters when they directly influenced spiritual affairs, and of this the propagation of the faith was an instance. As the compromise between Spain and Portugal was very indecisive, owing to the difference in longitude of the Azores and Cape Verde, a second Act was signed on 7th June 1494, which placed the line of demarcation 270 leagues farther to the west.

The colonization of the Spanish Indies, on its social and administrative side, presents a curious contrast. On the one hand we see the Spanish Crown, with high ideals of order and justice, of religious and political unity, extending to its ultramarine possessions its faith, its language, its laws and its administration; providing for the welfare of the aborigines with paternal solicitude; endeavouring to restrain and temper the passions of the conquerors; building churches and founding schools and monasteries; in a word, trying to make its colonies an integral part of the Spanish monarchy, "une societe vieille dans une contree neuve." Some Spanish writers, it is true, have exaggerated the virtues of their old colonial system; yet that system had excellences which we cannot afford to despise. If the Spanish kings had not choked their government with procrastination and routine; if they had only taken their task a bit less seriously and had not tried to apply too strictly to an empty continent the paternal administration of an older country; we might have been privileged to witness the development and operation of as complete and benign a system of colonial government as has been devised in modern times. The public initiative of the Spanish government, and the care with which it selected its colonists, compare very favourably with the opportunism of the English and the French, who colonized by chance private activity and sent the worst elements of their population, criminals and vagabonds, to people their new settlements across the sea. However much we may deprecate the treatment of the Indians by the conquistadores, we must not forget that the greater part of the population of Spanish America to-day is still Indian, and that no other colonizing people have succeeded like the Spaniards in assimilating and civilizing the natives. The code of laws which the Spaniards gradually evolved for the rule of their transmarine provinces, was, in spite of defects which are visible only to the larger experience of the present day, one of the wisest, most humane and best co-ordinated of any to this day published for any colony. Although the Spaniards had to deal with a large population of barbarous natives, the word "conquest" was suppressed in legislation as ill-sounding, "because the peace is to be sealed," they said, "not with the sound of arms, but with charity and good-will."[3]

The actual results, however, of the social policy of the Spanish kings fell far below the ideals they had set for themselves. The monarchic spirit of the crown was so strong that it crushed every healthy, expansive tendency in the new countries. It burdened the colonies with a numerous, privileged nobility, who congregated mostly in the larger towns and set to the rest of the colonists a pernicious example of idleness and luxury. In its zeal for the propagation of the Faith, the Crown constituted a powerfully endowed Church, which, while it did splendid service in converting and civilizing the natives, engrossed much of the land in the form of mainmort, and filled the new world with thousands of idle, unproductive, and often licentious friars. With an innate distrust and fear of individual initiative, it gave virtual omnipotence to royal officials and excluded all creoles from public employment. In this fashion was transferred to America the crushing political and ecclesiastical absolutism of the mother country. Self-reliance and independence of thought or action on the part of the creoles was discouraged, divisions and factions among them were encouraged and educational opportunities restricted, and the American-born Spaniards gradually sank into idleness and lethargy, indifferent to all but childish honours and distinctions and petty local jealousies. To make matters worse, many of the Spaniards who crossed the seas to the American colonies came not to colonize, not to trade or cultivate the soil, so much as to extract from the natives a tribute of gold and silver. The Indians, instead of being protected and civilized, were only too often reduced to serfdom and confined to a laborious routine for which they had neither the aptitude nor the strength; while the government at home was too distant to interfere effectively in their behalf. Driven by cruel taskmasters they died by thousands from exhaustion and despair, and in some places entirely disappeared.

The Crown of Castile, moreover, in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries sought to extend Spanish commerce and monopolize all the treasure of the Indies by means of a rigid and complicated commercial system. Yet in the end it saw the trade of the New World pass into the hands of its rivals, its own marine reduced to a shadow of its former strength, its crews and its vessels supplied by merchants from foreign lands, and its riches diverted at their very source.

This Spanish commercial system was based upon two distinct principles. One was the principle of colonial exclusivism, according to which all the trade of the colonies was to be reserved to the mother country. Spain on her side undertook to furnish the colonies with all they required, shipped upon Spanish vessels; the colonies in return were to produce nothing but raw materials and articles which did not compete with the home products with which they were to be exchanged. The second principle was the mercantile doctrine which, considering as wealth itself the precious metals which are but its symbol, laid down that money ought, by every means possible, to be imported and hoarded, never exported.[4] This latter theory, the fallacy of which has long been established, resulted in the endeavour of the Spanish Hapsburgs to conserve the wealth of the country, not by the encouragement of industry, but by the increase and complexity of imposts. The former doctrine, adopted by a non-producing country which was in no position to fulfil its part in the colonial compact, led to the most disastrous consequences.

While the Spanish Crown was aiming to concentrate and monopolize its colonial commerce, the prosperity of Spain itself was slowly sapped by reason of these mistaken economic theories. Owing to the lack of workmen, the increase of imposts, and the prejudice against the mechanic arts, industry was being ruined; while the increased depopulation of the realm, the mainmort of ecclesiastical lands, the majorats of the nobility and the privileges of the Mesta, brought agriculture rapidly into decay. The Spaniards, consequently, could not export the products of their manufacture to the colonies, when they did not have enough to supply their own needs. To make up for this deficiency their merchants were driven to have recourse to foreigners, to whom they lent their names in order to elude a law which forbade commerce between the colonies and traders of other nations. In return for the manufactured articles of the English, Dutch and French, and of the great commercial cities like Genoa and Hamburg, they were obliged to give their own raw materials and the products of the Indies—wool, silks, wines and dried fruits, cochineal, dye-woods, indigo and leather, and finally, indeed, ingots of gold and silver. The trade in Spain thus in time became a mere passive machine. Already in 1545 it had been found impossible to furnish in less than six years the goods demanded by the merchants of Spanish America. At the end of the seventeenth century, foreigners were supplying five-sixths of the manufactures consumed in Spain itself, and engrossed nine-tenths of that American trade which the Spaniards had sought so carefully to monopolize.[5]

In the colonies the most striking feature of Spanish economic policy was its wastefulness. After the conquest of the New World, it was to the interest of the Spaniards to gradually wean the native Indians from barbarism by teaching them the arts and sciences of Europe, to encourage such industries as were favoured by the soil, and to furnish the growing colonies with those articles which they could not produce themselves, and of which they stood in need. Only thus could they justify their monopoly of the markets of Spanish America. The same test, indeed, may be applied to every other nation which adopted the exclusivist system. Queen Isabella wished to carry out this policy, introduced into the newly-discovered islands wheat, the olive and the vine, and acclimatized many of the European domestic animals.[6] Her efforts, unfortunately, were not seconded by her successors, nor by the Spaniards who went to the Indies. In time the government itself, as well as the colonist, came to be concerned, not so much with the agricultural products of the Indies, but with the return of the precious metals. Natives were made to work the mines, while many regions adapted to agriculture, Guiana, Caracas and Buenos Ayres, were neglected, and the peopling of the colonies by Europeans was slow. The emperor, Charles V., did little to stem this tendency, but drifted along with the tide. Immigration was restricted to keep the colonies free from the contamination of heresy and of foreigners. The Spanish population was concentrated in cities, and the country divided into great estates granted by the crown to the families of the conquistadores or to favourites at court. The immense areas of Peru, Buenos Ayres and Mexico were submitted to the most unjust and arbitrary regulations, with no object but to stifle growing industry and put them in absolute dependence upon the metropolis. It was forbidden to exercise the trades of dyer, fuller, weaver, shoemaker or hatter, and the natives were compelled to buy of the Spaniards even the stuffs they wore on their backs. Another ordinance prohibited the cultivation of the vine and the olive except in Peru and Chili, and even these provinces might not send their oil and wine to Panama, Gautemala or any other place which could be supplied from Spain.[7] To maintain the commercial monopoly, legitimate ports of entry in Spanish America were made few and far apart—for Mexico, Vera Cruz, for New Granada, the town of Cartagena. The islands and most of the other provinces were supplied by uncertain "vaisseaux de registre," while Peru and Chili, finding all direct commerce by the Pacific or South Sea interdicted, were obliged to resort to the fever-ridden town of Porto Bello, where the mortality was enormous and the prices increased tenfold.

In Spain, likewise, the colonial commerce was restricted to one port—Seville. For in the estimation of the crown it was much more important to avoid being defrauded of its dues on import and export, than to permit the natural development of trade by those towns best fitted to acquire it. Another reason, prior in point of time perhaps, why Seville was chosen as the port for American trade, was that the Indies were regarded as the exclusive appanage of the crown of Castile, and of that realm Seville was then the chief mercantile city. It was not a suitable port, however, to be distinguished by so high a privilege. Only ships of less than 200 tons were able to cross the bar of San Lucar, and goods therefore had to be transhipped—a disability which was soon felt when traffic and vessels became heavier.[8] The fact, nevertheless, that the official organization called the Casa de Contratacion was seated in Seville, together with the influence of the vested interests of the merchants whose prosperity depended upon the retention of that city as the one port for Indian commerce, were sufficient to bear down all opposition. The maritime towns of Galicia and Asturia, inhabited by better seamen and stronger races, often protested, and sometimes succeeded in obtaining a small share of the lucrative trade.[9] But Seville retained its primacy until 1717, in which year the Contratacion was transferred to Cadiz.

The administration of the complex rules governing the commerce between Spain and her colonies was entrusted to two institutions located at Seville,—the Casa de Contratacion, mentioned above, and the Consulado. The Casa de Contratacion, founded by royal decree as early as 1503, was both a judicial tribunal and a house of commerce. Nothing might be sent to the Indies without its consent; nothing might be brought back and landed, either on the account of merchants or of the King himself, without its authorization. It received all the revenues accruing from the Indies, not only the imposts on commerce, but also all the taxes remitted by colonial officers. As a consultative body it had the right to propose directly to the King anything which it deemed necessary to the development and organization of American commerce; and as a tribunal it possessed an absolute competence over all crimes under the common law, and over all infractions of the ordinances governing the trade of the Indies, to the exclusion of every ordinary court. Its jurisdiction began at the moment the passengers and crews embarked and the goods were put on board, and ended only when the return voyage and disembarkation had been completed.[10] The civil jurisdiction of the Casa was much more restricted and disputes purely commercial in character between the merchants were reserved to the Consulado, which was a tribunal of commerce chosen entirely by the merchants themselves. Appeals in certain cases might be carried to the Council of the Indies.[11]

The first means adopted by the northern maritime nations to appropriate to themselves a share of the riches of the New World was open, semi-piratical attack upon the Spanish argosies returning from those distant El Dorados. The success of the Norman and Breton corsairs, for it was the French, not the English, who started the game, gradually forced upon the Spaniards, as a means of protection, the establishment of great merchant fleets sailing periodically at long intervals and accompanied by powerful convoys. During the first half of the sixteenth century any ship which had fulfilled the conditions required for engaging in American commerce was allowed to depart alone and at any time of the year. From about 1526, however, merchant vessels were ordered to sail together, and by a cedula of July 1561, the system of fleets was made permanent and obligatory. This decree prohibited any ship from sailing alone to America from Cadiz or San Lucar on pain of forfeiture of ship and cargo.[12] Two fleets were organized each year, one for Terra Firma going to Cartagena and Porto Bello, the other designed for the port of San Juan d'Ulloa (Vera Cruz) in New Spain. The latter, called the Flota, was commanded by an "almirante," and sailed for Mexico in the early summer so as to avoid the hurricane season and the "northers" of the Mexican Gulf. The former was usually called the galeones (anglice "galleons"), was commanded by a "general," and sailed from Spain earlier in the year, between January and March. If it departed in March, it usually wintered at Havana and returned with the Flota in the following spring. Sometimes the two fleets sailed together and separated at Guadaloupe, Deseada or another of the Leeward Islands.[13]

The galleons generally consisted of from five to eight war-vessels carrying from forty to fifty guns, together with several smaller, faster boats called "pataches," and a fleet of merchantmen varying in number in different years. In the time of Philip II. often as many as forty ships supplied Cartagena and Porto Bello, but in succeeding reigns, although the population of the Indies was rapidly increasing, American commerce fell off so sadly that eight or ten were sufficient for all the trade of South and Central America. The general of the galleons, on his departure, received from the Council of the Indies three sealed packets. The first, opened at the Canaries, contained the name of the island in the West Indies at which the fleet was first to call. The second was unsealed after the galleons arrived at Cartagena, and contained instructions for the fleet to return in the same year or to winter in America. In the third, left unopened until the fleet had emerged from the Bahama Channel on the homeward voyage, were orders for the route to the Azores and the islands they should touch in passing, usually Corvo and Flores or Santa Maria.[14]

The course of the galleons from San Lucar was south-west to Teneriffe on the African coast, and thence to the Grand Canary to call for provisions—considered in all a run of eight days. From the Canaries one of the pataches sailed on alone to Cartagena and Porto Bello, carrying letters and packets from the Court and announcing the coming of the fleet. If the two fleets sailed together, they steered south-west from the Canaries to about the latitude of Deseada, 15' 30", and then catching the Trade winds continued due west, rarely changing a sail until Deseada or one of the other West Indian islands was sighted. From Deseada the galleons steered an easy course to Cape de la Vela, and thence to Cartagena. When the galleons sailed from Spain alone, however, they entered the Caribbean Sea by the channel between Tobago and Trinidad, afterwards named the Galleons' Passage. Opposite Margarita a second patache left the fleet to visit the island and collect the royal revenues, although after the exhaustion of the pearl fisheries the island lost most of its importance. As the fleet advanced into regions where more security was felt, merchant ships too, which were intended to unload and trade on the coasts they were passing, detached themselves during the night and made for Caracas, Santa Marta or Maracaibo to get silver, cochineal, leather and cocoa. The Margarita patache, meanwhile, had sailed on to Cumana and Caracas to receive there the king's treasure, mostly paid in cocoa, the real currency of the country, and thence proceeded to Cartagena to rejoin the galleons.[15]

The fleet reached Cartagena ordinarily about two months after its departure from Cadiz. On its arrival, the general forwarded the news to Porto Bello, together with the packets destined for the viceroy at Lima. From Porto Bello a courier hastened across the isthmus to the President of Panama, who spread the advice amongst the merchants in his jurisdiction, and, at the same time, sent a dispatch boat to Payta, in Peru. The general of the galleons, meanwhile, was also sending a courier overland to Lima, and another to Santa Fe, the capital of the interior province of New Granada, whence runners carried to Popagan, Antioquia, Mariguita, and adjacent provinces, the news of his arrival.[16] The galleons were instructed to remain at Cartagena only a month, but bribes from the merchants generally made it their interest to linger for fifty or sixty days. To Cartagena came the gold and emeralds of New Granada, the pearls of Margarita and Rancherias, and the indigo, tobacco, cocoa and other products of the Venezuelan coast. The merchants of Gautemala, likewise, shipped their commodities to Cartagena by way of Lake Nicaragua and the San Juan river, for they feared to send goods across the Gulf of Honduras to Havana, because of the French and English buccaneers hanging about Cape San Antonio.[17]

Meanwhile the viceroy at Lima, on receipt of his letters, ordered the Armada of the South Sea to prepare to sail, and sent word south to Chili and throughout the province of Peru from Las Charcas to Quito, to forward the King's revenues for shipment to Panama. Within less than a fortnight all was in readiness. The Armada, carrying a considerable treasure, sailed from Callao and, touching at Payta, was joined by the Navio del Oro (golden ship), which carried the gold from the province of Quito and adjacent districts. While the galleons were approaching Porto Bello the South Sea fleet arrived before Panama, and the merchants of Chili and Peru began to transfer their merchandise on mules across the high back of the isthmus.[18]

Then began the famous fair of Porto Bello.[19] The town, whose permanent population was very small and composed mostly of negroes and mulattos, was suddenly called upon to accommodate an enormous crowd of merchants, soldiers and seamen. Food and shelter were to be had only at extraordinary prices. When Thomas Gage was in Porto Bello in 1637 he was compelled to pay 120 crowns for a very small, meanly-furnished room for a fortnight. Merchants gave as much as 1000 crowns for a moderate-sized shop in which to sell their commodities. Owing to overcrowding, bad sanitation, and an extremely unhealthy climate, the place became an open grave, ready to swallow all who resorted there. In 1637, during the fifteen days that the galleons remained at Porto Bello, 500 men died of sickness. Meanwhile, day by day, the mule-trains from Panama were winding their way into the town. Gage in one day counted 200 mules laden with wedges of silver, which were unloaded in the market-place and permitted to lie about like heaps of stones in the streets, without causing any fear or suspicion of being lost.[20] While the treasure of the King of Spain was being transferred to the galleons in the harbour, the merchants were making their trade. There was little liberty, however, in commercial transactions, for the prices were fixed and published beforehand, and when negotiations began exchange was purely mechanical. The fair, which was supposed to be open for forty days, was, in later times, generally completed in ten or twelve. At the beginning of the eighteenth century the volume of business transacted was estimated to amount to thirty or forty million pounds sterling.[21]

In view of the prevailing east wind in these regions, and the maze of reefs, cays and shoals extending far out to sea from the Mosquito Coast, the galleons, in making their course from Porto Bello to Havana, first sailed back to Cartagena upon the eastward coast eddy, so as to get well to windward of Nicaragua before attempting the passage through the Yucatan Channel.[22] The fleet anchored at Cartagena a second time for ten or twelve days, where it was rejoined by the patache of Margarita[23] and by the merchant ships which had been sent to trade in Terra-Firma. From Cartagena, too, the general sent dispatches to Spain and to Havana, giving the condition of the vessels, the state of trade, the day when he expected to sail, and the probable time of arrival.[24] For when the galleons were in the Indies all ports were closed by the Spaniards, for fear that precious information of the whereabouts of the fleet and of the value of its cargo might inconveniently leak out to their rivals. From Cartagena the course was north-west past Jamaica and the Caymans to the Isle of Pines, and thence round Capes Corrientes and San Antonio to Havana. The fleet generally required about eight days for the journey, and arrived at Havana late in the summer. Here the galleons refitted and revictualled, received tobacco, sugar, and other Cuban exports, and if not ordered to return with the Flota, sailed for Spain no later than the middle of September. The course for Spain was from Cuba through the Bahama Channel, north-east between the Virginian Capes and the Bermudas to about 38 deg., in order to recover the strong northerly winds, and then east to the Azores. In winter the galleons sometimes ran south of the Bermudas, and then slowly worked up to the higher latitude; but in this case they often either lost some ships on the Bermuda shoals, or to avoid these slipped too far south, were forced back into the West Indies and missed their voyage altogether.[25] At the Azores the general, falling in with his first intelligence from Spain, learned where on the coast of Europe or Africa he was to sight land; and finally, in the latter part of October or the beginning of November, he dropped anchor at San Lucar or in Cadiz harbour.

The Flota or Mexican fleet, consisting in the seventeenth century of two galleons of 800 or 900 tons and from fifteen to twenty merchantmen, usually left Cadiz between June and July and wintered in America; but if it was to return with the galleons from Havana in September it sailed for the Indies as early as April. The course from Spain to the Indies was the same as for the fleet of Terra-Firma. From Deseada or Guadeloupe, however, the Flota steered north-west, passing Santa Cruz and Porto Rico on the north, and sighting the little isles of Mona and Saona, as far as the Bay of Neyba in Hispaniola, where the ships took on fresh wood and water.[26] Putting to sea again, and circling round Beata and Alta Vela, the fleet sighted in turn Cape Tiburon, Cape de Cruz, the Isle of Pines, and Capes Corrientes and San Antonio at the west end of Cuba. Meanwhile merchant ships had dropped away one by one, sailing to San Juan de Porto Rico, San Domingo, St. Jago de Cuba and even to Truxillo and Cavallos in Honduras, to carry orders from Spain to the governors, receive cargoes of leather, cocoa, etc., and rejoin the Flota at Havana. From Cape San Antonio to Vera Cruz there was an outside or winter route and an inside or summer route. The former lay north-west between the Alacranes and the Negrillos to the Mexican coast about sixteen leagues north of Vera Cruz, and then down before the wind into the desired haven. The summer track was much closer to the shore of Campeache, the fleet threading its way among the cays and shoals, and approaching Vera Cruz by a channel on the south-east.

If the Flota sailed from Spain in July it generally arrived at Vera Cruz in the first fifteen days of September, and the ships were at once laid up until March, when the crews reassembled to careen and refit them. If the fleet was to return in the same year, however, the exports of New Spain and adjacent provinces, the goods from China and the Philippines carried across Mexico from the Pacific port of Acapulco, and the ten or twelve millions of treasure for the king, were at once put on board and the ships departed to join the galleons at Havana. Otherwise the fleet sailed from Vera Cruz in April, and as it lay dead to the leeward of Cuba, used the northerly winds to about 25 deg., then steered south-east and reached Havana in eighteen or twenty days. By the beginning of June it was ready to sail for Spain, where it arrived at the end of July, by the same course as that followed by the galleons.[27]

We are accustomed to think of Spanish commerce with the Indies as being made solely by great fleets which sailed yearly from Seville or Cadiz to Mexico and the Isthmus of Darien. There were, however, always exceptions to this rule. When, as sometimes happened, the Flota did not sail, two ships of 600 or 700 tons were sent by the King of Spain to Vera Cruz to carry the quicksilver necessary for the mines. The metal was divided between New Spain and Peru by the viceroy at Mexico, who sent via Gautemala the portion intended for the south. These ships, called "azogues," carried from 2000 to 2500 quintals[28] of silver, and sometimes convoyed six or seven merchant vessels. From time to time an isolated ship was also allowed to sail from Spain to Caracas with licence from the Council of the Indies and the Contratacion, paying the king a duty of five ducats on the ton. It was called the "register of Caracas," took the same route as the galleons, and returned with one of the fleets from Havana. Similar vessels traded at Maracaibo, in Porto Rico and at San Domingo, at Havana and Matanzas in Cuba and at Truxillo and Campeache.[29] There was always, moreover, a special traffic with Buenos Ayres. This port was opened to a limited trade in negroes in 1595. In 1602 permission was given to the inhabitants of La Plata to export for six years the products of their lands to other Spanish possessions, in exchange for goods of which they had need; and when in 1616 the colonists demanded an indefinite renewal of this privilege, the sop thrown to them was the bare right of trade to the amount of 100 tons every three years. Later in the century the Council of the Indies extended the period to five years, so as not to prejudice the trade of the galleons.[30]

It was this commerce, which we have noticed at such length, that the buccaneers of the West Indies in the seventeenth century came to regard as their legitimate prey. These "corsarios Luteranos," as the Spaniards sometimes called them, scouring the coast of the Main from Venezuela to Cartagena, hovering about the broad channel between Cuba and Yucatan, or prowling in the Florida Straits, became the nightmare of Spanish seamen. Like a pack of terriers they hung upon the skirts of the great unwieldy fleets, ready to snap up any unfortunate vessel which a tempest or other accident had separated from its fellows. When Thomas Gage was sailing in the galleons from Porto Bello to Cartagena in 1637, four buccaneers hovering near them carried away two merchant-ships under cover of darkness. As the same fleet was departing from Havana, just outside the harbour two strange vessels appeared in their midst, and getting to the windward of them singled out a Spanish ship which had strayed a short distance from the rest, suddenly gave her a broadside and made her yield. The vessel was laden with sugar and other goods to the value of 80,000 crowns. The Spanish vice-admiral and two other galleons gave chase, but without success, for the wind was against them. The whole action lasted only half an hour.[31]

The Spanish ships of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were notoriously clumsy and unseaworthy. With short keel and towering poop and forecastle they were an easy prey for the long, low, close-sailing sloops and barques of the buccaneers. But this was not their only weakness. Although the king expressly prohibited the loading of merchandise on the galleons except on the king's account, this rule was often broken for the private profit of the captain, the sailors, and even of the general. The men-of-war, indeed, were sometimes so embarrassed with goods and passengers that it was scarcely possible to defend them when attacked. The galleon which bore the general's flag had often as many as 700 souls, crew, marines and passengers, on board, and the same number were crowded upon those carrying the vice-admiral and the pilot. Ship-masters frequently hired guns, anchors, cables, and stores to make up the required equipment, and men to fill up the muster-rolls, against the time when the "visitadors" came on board to make their official inspection, getting rid of the stores and men immediately afterward. Merchant ships were armed with such feeble crews, owing to the excessive crowding, that it was all they could do to withstand the least spell of bad weather, let alone outman[oe]uvre a swift-sailing buccaneer.[32]

By Spanish law strangers were forbidden to resort to, or reside in, the Indies without express permission of the king. By law, moreover, they might not trade with the Indies from Spain, either on their own account or through the intermediary of a Spaniard, and they were forbidden even to associate with those engaged in such a trade. Colonists were stringently enjoined from having anything to do with them. In 1569 an order was issued for the seizure of all goods sent to the colonies on the account of foreigners, and a royal cedula of 1614 decreed the penalty of death and confiscation upon any who connived at the participation of foreigners in Spanish colonial commerce.[33] It was impossible, however, to maintain so complete an exclusion when the products of Spain fell far short of supplying the needs of the colonists. Foreign merchants were bound to have a hand in this traffic, and the Spanish government tried to recompense itself by imposing on the out-going cargoes tyrannical exactions called "indults." The results were fatal. Foreigners often eluded these impositions by interloping in the West Indies and in the South Sea.[34] And as the Contratacion, by fixing each year the nature and quantity of the goods to be shipped to the colonies, raised the price of merchandise at will and reaped enormous profits, the colonists welcomed this contraband trade as an opportunity of enriching themselves and adding to the comforts and luxuries of living.

From the beginning of the seventeenth century as many as 200 ships sailed each year from Portugal with rich cargoes of silks, cloths and woollens intended for Spanish America.[35] The Portuguese bought these articles of the Flemish, English, and French, loaded them at Lisbon and Oporto, ran their vessels to Brazil and up the La Plata as far as navigation permitted, and then transported the goods overland through Paraguay and Tucuman to Potosi and even to Lima. The Spanish merchants of Peru kept factors in Brazil as well as in Spain, and as Portuguese imposts were not so excessive as those levied at Cadiz and Seville, the Portuguese could undersell their Spanish rivals. The frequent possession of Assientos by the Portuguese and Dutch in the first half of the seventeenth century also facilitated this contraband, for when carrying negroes from Africa to Hispaniola, Cuba and the towns on the Main, they profited by their opportunities to sell merchandise also, and generally without the least obstacle.

Other nations in the seventeenth century were not slow to follow the same course; and two circumstances contributed to make that course easy. One was the great length of coast line on both the Atlantic and Pacific slopes over which a surveillance had to be exercised, making it difficult to catch the interlopers. The other was the venal connivance of the governors of the ports, who often tolerated and even encouraged the traffic on the plea that the colonists demanded it.[36] The subterfuges adopted by the interlopers were very simple. When a vessel wished to enter a Spanish port to trade, the captain, pretending that provisions had run low, or that the ship suffered from a leak or a broken mast, sent a polite note to the governor accompanied by a considerable gift. He generally obtained permission to enter, unload, and put the ship into a seaworthy condition. All the formalities were minutely observed. The unloaded goods were shut up in a storehouse, and the doors sealed. But there was always found another door unsealed, and by this they abstracted the goods during the night, and substituted coin or bars of gold and silver. When the vessel was repaired to the captain's satisfaction, it was reloaded and sailed away.

There was also, especially on the shores of the Caribbean Sea, a less elaborate commerce called "sloop-trade," for it was usually managed by sloops which hovered near some secluded spot on the coast, often at the mouth of a river, and informed the inhabitants of their presence in the neighbourhood by firing a shot from a cannon. Sometimes a large ship filled with merchandise was stationed in a bay close at hand, and by means of these smaller craft made its trade with the colonists. The latter, generally in disguise, came off in canoes by night. The interlopers, however, were always on guard against such dangerous visitors, and never admitted more than a few at a time; for when the Spaniards found themselves stronger than the crew, and a favourable opportunity presented itself, they rarely failed to attempt the vessel.

Thus the Spaniards of the seventeenth century, by persisting, both at home and in their colonies, in an economic policy which was fatally inconsistent with their powers and resources, saw their commerce gradually extinguished by the ships of the foreign interloper, and their tropical possessions fall a prey to marauding bands of half-piratical buccaneers. Although struggling under tremendous initial disabilities in Europe, they had attempted, upon the slender pleas of prior discovery and papal investiture, to reserve half the world to themselves. Without a marine, without maritime traditions, they sought to hold a colonial empire greater than any the world had yet seen, and comparable only with the empire of Great Britain three centuries later. By discouraging industry in Spain, and yet enforcing in the colonies an absolute commercial dependence on the home-country, by combining in their rule of distant America a solicitous paternalism with a restriction of initiative altogether disastrous in its consequences, the Spaniards succeeded in reducing their colonies to political impotence. And when, to make their grip the more firm, they evolved, as a method of outwitting the foreigner of his spoils, the system of great fleets and single ports of call, they found the very means they had contrived for their own safety to be the instrument of commercial disaster.


It was the French chronologist, Scaliger, who in the sixteenth century asserted, "nulli melius piraticam exercent quam Angli"; and although he had no need to cross the Channel to find men proficient in this primitive calling, the remark applies to the England of his time with a force which we to-day scarcely realise. Certainly the inveterate hostility with which the Englishman learned to regard the Spaniard in the latter half of the sixteenth and throughout the seventeenth centuries found its most remarkable expression in the exploits of the Elizabethan "sea-dogs" and of the buccaneers of a later period. The religious differences and political jealousies which grew out of the turmoil of the Reformation, and the moral anarchy incident to the dissolution of ancient religious institutions, were the motive causes for an outburst of piratical activity comparable only with the professional piracy of the Barbary States.

Even as far back as the thirteenth century, indeed, lawless sea-rovers, mostly Bretons and Flemings, had infested the English Channel and the seas about Great Britain. In the sixteenth this mode of livelihood became the refuge for numerous young Englishmen, Catholic and Protestant, who, fleeing from the persecutions of Edward VI. and of Mary, sought refuge in French ports or in the recesses of the Irish coast, and became the leaders of wild roving bands living chiefly upon plunder. Among them during these persecutions were found many men belonging to the best families in England, and although with the accession of Elizabeth most of the leaders returned to the service of the State, the pirate crews remained at their old trade. The contagion spread, especially in the western counties, and great numbers of fishermen who found their old employment profitless were recruited into this new calling.[37] At the beginning of Elizabeth's reign we find these Anglo-Irish pirates venturing farther south, plundering treasure galleons off the coast of Spain, and cutting vessels out of the very ports of the Spanish king. Such outrages of course provoked reprisals, and the pirates, if caught, were sent to the galleys, rotted in the dungeons of the Inquisition, or, least of all, were burnt in the plaza at Valladolid. These cruelties only added fuel to a deadly hatred which was kindling between the two nations, a hatred which it took one hundred and fifty years to quench.

The most venturesome of these sea-rovers, however, were soon attracted to a larger and more distant sphere of activity. Spain, as we have seen, was then endeavouring to reserve to herself in the western hemisphere an entire new world; and this at a time when the great northern maritime powers, France, England and Holland, were in the full tide of economic development, restless with new thoughts, hopes and ambitions, and keenly jealous of new commercial and industrial outlets. The famous Bull of Alexander VI. had provoked Francis I. to express a desire "to see the clause in Adam's will which entitled his brothers of Castile and Portugal to divide the New World between them," and very early the French corsairs had been encouraged to test the pretensions of the Spaniards by the time-honoured proofs of fire and steel. The English nation, however, in the first half of the sixteenth century, had not disputed with Spain her exclusive trade and dominion in those regions. The hardy mariners of the north were still indifferent to the wonders of a new continent awaiting their exploitation, and it was left to the Spaniards to unfold before the eyes of Europe the vast riches of America, and to found empires on the plateaus of Mexico and beyond the Andes. During the reign of Philip II. all this was changed. English privateers began to extend their operations westward, and to sap the very sources of Spanish wealth and power, while the wars which absorbed the attention of the Spaniards in Europe, from the revolt of the Low Countries to the Treaty of Westphalia, left the field clear for these ubiquitous sea-rovers. The maritime powers, although obliged by the theory of colonial exclusion to pretend to acquiesce in the Spaniard's claim to tropical America, secretly protected and supported their mariners who coursed those western seas. France and England were now jealous and fearful of Spanish predominance in Europe, and kept eyes obstinately fixed on the inexhaustible streams of gold and silver by means of which Spain was enabled to pay her armies and man her fleets. Queen Elizabeth, while she publicly excused or disavowed to Philip II. the outrages committed by Hawkins and Drake, blaming the turbulence of the times and promising to do her utmost to suppress the disorders, was secretly one of the principal shareholders in their enterprises.

The policy of the marauders was simple. The treasure which oiled the machinery of Spanish policy came from the Indies where it was accumulated; hence there were only two means of obtaining possession of it:—bold raids on the ill-protected American continent, and the capture of vessels en route.[38] The counter policy of the Spaniards was also two-fold:—on the one hand, the establishment of commerce by means of annual fleets protected by a powerful convoy; on the other, the removal of the centres of population from the coasts to the interior of the country far from danger of attack.[39] The Spaniards in America, however, proved to be no match for the bold, intrepid mariners who disputed their supremacy. The descendants of the Conquistadores had deteriorated sadly from the type of their forbears. Softened by tropical heats and a crude, uncultured luxury, they seem to have lost initiative and power of resistance. The disastrous commercial system of monopoly and centralization forced them to vegetate; while the policy of confining political office to native-born Spaniards denied any outlet to creole talent and energy. Moreover, the productive power and administrative abilities of the native-born Spaniards themselves were gradually being paralyzed and reduced to impotence under the crushing obligation of preserving and defending so unwieldy an empire and of managing such disproportionate riches, a task for which they had neither the aptitude nor the means.[40] Privateering in the West Indies may indeed be regarded as a challenge to the Spaniards of America, sunk in lethargy and living upon the credit of past glory and achievement, a challenge to prove their right to retain their dominion and extend their civilization and culture over half the world.[41]

There were other motives which lay behind these piratical aggressions of the French and English in Spanish America. The Spaniards, ever since the days of the Dominican monk and bishop, Las Casas, had been reprobated as the heartless oppressors and murderers of the native Indians. The original owners of the soil had been dispossessed and reduced to slavery. In the West Indies, the great islands, Cuba and Hispaniola, were rendered desolate for want of inhabitants. Two great empires, Mexico and Peru, had been subdued by treachery, their kings murdered, and their people made to suffer a living death in the mines of Potosi and New Spain. Such was the Protestant Englishman's conception, in the sixteenth century, of the results of Spanish colonial policy. To avenge the blood of these innocent victims, and teach the true religion to the survivors, was to glorify the Church militant and strike a blow at Antichrist. Spain, moreover, in the eyes of the Puritans, was the lieutenant of Rome, the Scarlet Woman of the Apocalypse, who harried and burnt their Protestant brethren whenever she could lay hands upon them. That she was eager to repeat her ill-starred attempt of 1588 and introduce into the British Isles the accursed Inquisition was patent to everyone. Protestant England, therefore, filled with the enthusiasm and intolerance of a new faith, made no bones of despoiling the Spaniards, especially as the service of God was likely to be repaid with plunder.

A pamphlet written by Dalby Thomas in 1690 expresses with tolerable accuracy the attitude of the average Englishman toward Spain during the previous century. He says:—"We will make a short reflection on the unaccountable negligence, or rather stupidity, of this nation, during the reigns of Henry VII., Henry VIII., Edward VI. and Queen Mary, who could contentedly sit still and see the Spanish rifle, plunder and bring home undisturbed, all the wealth of that golden world; and to suffer them with forts and castles to shut up the doors and entrances unto all the rich provinces of America, having not the least title or pretence of right beyond any other nation; except that of being by accident the first discoverer of some parts of it; where the unprecedented cruelties, exorbitances and barbarities, their own histories witness, they practised on a poor, naked and innocent people, which inhabited the islands, as well as upon those truly civilized and mighty empires of Peru and Mexico, called to all mankind for succour and relief against their outrageous avarice and horrid massacres.... (We) slept on until the ambitious Spaniard, by that inexhaustible spring of treasure, had corrupted most of the courts and senates of Europe, and had set on fire, by civil broils and discords, all our neighbour nations, or had subdued them to his yoke; contriving too to make us wear his chains and bear a share in the triumph of universal monarchy, not only projected but near accomplished, when Queen Elizabeth came to the crown ... and to the divided interests of Philip II. and Queen Elizabeth, in personal more than National concerns, we do owe that start of hers in letting loose upon him, and encouraging those daring adventurers, Drake, Hawkins, Rawleigh, the Lord Clifford and many other braves that age produced, who, by their privateering and bold undertaking (like those the buccaneers practise) now opened the way to our discoveries, and succeeding settlements in America."[42]

On the 19th of November 1527, some Spaniards in a caravel loading cassava at the Isle of Mona, between Hispaniola and Porto Rico, sighted a strange vessel of about 250 tons well-armed with cannon, and believing it to be a ship from Spain sent a boat to make inquiries. The new-comers at the same time were seen to launch a pinnace carrying some twenty-five men, all armed with corselets and bows. As the two boats approached the Spaniards inquired the nationality of the strangers and were told that they were English. The story given by the English master was that his ship and another had been fitted out by the King of England and had sailed from London to discover the land of the Great Khan; that they had been separated in a great storm; that this ship afterwards ran into a sea of ice, and unable to get through, turned south, touched at Bacallaos (Newfoundland), where the pilot was killed by Indians, and sailing 400 leagues along the coast of "terra nueva" had found her way to this island of Porto Rico. The Englishmen offered to show their commission written in Latin and Romance, which the Spanish captain could not read; and after sojourning at the island for two days, they inquired for the route to Hispaniola and sailed away. On the evening of 25th November this same vessel appeared before the port of San Domingo, the capital of Hispaniola, where the master with ten or twelve sailors went ashore in a boat to ask leave to enter and trade. This they obtained, for the alguazil mayor and two pilots were sent back with them to bring the ship into port. But early next morning, when they approached the shore, the Spanish alcaide, Francisco de Tapia, commanded a gun to be fired at the ship from the castle; whereupon the English, seeing the reception accorded them, sailed back to Porto Rico, there obtained some provisions in exchange for pewter and cloth, and departed for Europe, "where it is believed that they never arrived, for nothing is known of them." The alcaide, says Herrera, was imprisoned by the oidores, because he did not, instead of driving the ship away, allow her to enter the port, whence she could not have departed without the permission of the city and the fort.[43]

This is the earliest record we possess of the appearance of an English ship in the waters of Spanish America. Others, however, soon followed. In 1530 William Hawkins, father of the famous John Hawkins, ventured in "a tall and goodly ship ... called the 'Polo of Plymouth,'" down to the coast of Guinea, trafficked with the natives for gold-dust and ivory, and then crossed the ocean to Brazil, "where he behaved himself so wisely with those savage people" that one of the kings of the country took ship with him to England and was presented to Henry VIII. at Whitehall.[44] The real occasion, however, for the appearance of foreign ships in Spanish-American waters was the new occupation of carrying negroes from the African coast to the Spanish colonies to be sold as slaves. The rapid depopulation of the Indies, and the really serious concern of the Spanish crown for the preservation of the indigenes, had compelled the Spanish government to permit the introduction of negro slaves from an early period. At first restricted to Christian slaves carried from Spain, after 1510 licences to take over a certain number, subject of course to governmental imposts, were given to private individuals; and in August 1518, owing to the incessant clamour of the colonists for more negroes, Laurent de Gouvenot, Governor of Bresa and one of the foreign favourites of Charles V., obtained the first regular contract to carry 4000 slaves directly from Africa to the West Indies.[45] With slight modifications the contract system became permanent, and with it, as a natural consequence, came contraband trade. Cargoes of negroes were frequently "run" from Africa by Spaniards and Portuguese, and as early as 1506 an order was issued to expel all contraband slaves from Hispaniola.[46] The supply never equalled the demand, however, and this explains why John Hawkins found it so profitable to carry ship-loads of blacks across from the Guinea coast, and why Spanish colonists could not resist the temptation to buy them, notwithstanding the stringent laws against trading with foreigners.

The first voyage of John Hawkins was made in 1562-63. In conjunction with Thomas Hampton he fitted out three vessels and sailed for Sierra Leone. There he collected, "partly by the sword and partly by other means," some 300 negroes, and with this valuable human freight crossed the Atlantic to San Domingo in Hispaniola. Uncertain as to his reception, Hawkins on his arrival pretended that he had been driven in by foul weather, and was in need of provisions, but without ready money to pay for them. He therefore requested permission to sell "certain slaves he had with him." The opportunity was eagerly welcomed by the planters, and the governor, not thinking it necessary to construe his orders from home too stringently, allowed two-thirds of the cargo to be sold. As neither Hawkins nor the Spanish colonists anticipated any serious displeasure on the part of Philip II., the remaining 100 slaves were left as a deposit with the Council of the island. Hawkins invested the proceeds in a return cargo of hides, half of which he sent in Spanish vessels to Spain under the care of his partner, while he returned with the rest to England. The Spanish Government, however, was not going to sanction for a moment the intrusion of the English into the Indies. On Hampton's arrival at Cadiz his cargo was confiscated and he himself narrowly escaped the Inquisition. The slaves left in San Domingo were forfeited, and Hawkins, although he "cursed, threatened and implored," could not obtain a farthing for his lost hides and negroes. The only result of his demands was the dispatch of a peremptory order to the West Indies that no English vessel should be allowed under any pretext to trade there.[47]

The second of the great Elizabethan sea-captains to beard the Spanish lion was Hawkins' friend and pupil, Francis Drake. In 1567 he accompanied Hawkins on his third expedition. With six ships, one of which was lent by the Queen herself, they sailed from Plymouth in October, picked up about 450 slaves on the Guinea coast, sighted Dominica in the West Indies in March, and coasted along the mainland of South America past Margarita and Cape de la Vela, carrying on a "tolerable good trade." Rio de la Hacha they stormed with 200 men, losing only two in the encounter; but they were scattered by a tempest near Cartagena and driven into the Gulf of Mexico, where, on 16th September, they entered the narrow port of S. Juan d'Ulloa or Vera Cruz. The next day the fleet of New Spain, consisting of thirteen large ships, appeared outside, and after an exchange of pledges of peace and amity with the English intruders, entered on the 20th. On the morning of the 24th, however, a fierce encounter was begun, and Hawkins and Drake, stubbornly defending themselves against tremendous odds, were glad to escape with two shattered vessels and the loss of L100,000 treasure. After a voyage of terrible suffering, Drake, in the "Judith," succeeded in reaching England on 20th January 1569, and Hawkins followed five days later.[48] Within a few years, however, Drake was away again, this time alone and with the sole, unblushing purpose of robbing the Dons. With only two ships and seventy-three men he prowled about the waters of the West Indies for almost a year, capturing and rifling Spanish vessels, plundering towns on the Main and intercepting convoys of treasure across the Isthmus of Darien. In 1577 he sailed on the voyage which carried him round the world, a feat for which he was knighted, promoted to the rank of admiral, and visited by the Queen on board his ship, the "Golden Hind." While Drake was being feted in London as the hero of the hour, Philip of Spain from his cell in the Escorial must have execrated these English sea-rovers whose visits brought ruin to his colonies and menaced the safety of his treasure galleons.

In the autumn of 1585 Drake was again in command of a formidable armament intended against the West Indies. Supported by 2000 troops under General Carleill, and by Martin Frobisher and Francis Knollys in the fleet, he took and plundered San Domingo, and after occupying Cartagena for six weeks ransomed the city for 110,000 ducats. This fearless old Elizabethan sailed from Plymouth on his last voyage in August 1595. Though under the joint command of Drake and Hawkins, the expedition seemed doomed to disaster throughout its course. One vessel, the "Francis," fell into the hands of the Spaniards. While the fleet was passing through the Virgin Isles, Hawkins fell ill and died. A desperate attack was made on S. Juan de Porto Rico, but the English, after losing forty or fifty men, were compelled to retire. Drake then proceeded to the Main, where in turn he captured and plundered Rancherias, Rio de la Hacha, Santa Marta and Nombre de Dios. With 750 soldiers he made a bold attempt to cross the isthmus to the city of Panama, but turned back after the loss of eighty or ninety of his followers. A few days later, on 15th January 1596, he too fell ill, died on the 28th, and was buried in a leaden coffin off the coast of Darien.[49]

Hawkins and Drake, however, were by no means the only English privateers of that century in American waters. Names like Oxenham, Grenville, Raleigh and Clifford, and others of lesser fame, such as Winter, Knollys and Barker, helped to swell the roll of these Elizabethan sea-rovers. To many a gallant sailor the Caribbean Sea was a happy hunting-ground where he might indulge at his pleasure any propensities to lawless adventure. If in 1588 he had helped to scatter the Invincible Armada, he now pillaged treasure ships on the coasts of the Spanish Main; if he had been with Drake to flout his Catholic Majesty at Cadiz, he now closed with the Spaniards within their distant cities beyond the seas. Thus he lined his own pockets with Spanish doubloons, and incidentally curbed Philip's power of invading England. Nor must we think these mariners the same as the lawless buccaneers of a later period. The men of this generation were of a sterner and more fanatical mould, men who for their wildest acts often claimed the sanction of religious convictions. Whether they carried off the heathen from Africa, or plundered the fleets of Romish Spain, they were but entering upon "the heritage of the saints." Judged by the standards of our own century they were pirates and freebooters, but in the eyes of their fellow-countrymen their attacks upon the Spaniards seemed fair and honourable.

The last of the great privateering voyages for which Drake had set the example was the armament which Lord George Clifford, Earl of Cumberland, sent against Porto Rico in 1598. The ill-starred expeditions of Raleigh to Guiana in 1595 and again in 1617 belong rather to the history of exploration and colonization. Clifford, "courtier, gambler and buccaneer," having run through a great part of his very considerable fortune, had seized the opportunity offered him by the plunder of the Spanish colonies to re-coup himself; and during a period of twelve years, from 1586 to 1598, almost every year fitted out, and often himself commanded, an expedition against the Spaniards. In his last and most ambitious effort, in 1598, he equipped twenty vessels entirely at his own cost, sailed from Plymouth in March, and on 6th June laid siege to the city of San Juan, which he proposed to clear of Spaniards and establish as an English stronghold. Although the place was captured, the expedition proved a fiasco. A violent sickness broke out among the troops, and as Clifford had already sailed away with some of the ships to Flores to lie in wait for the treasure fleet, Sir Thomas Berkeley, who was left in command in Porto Rico, abandoned the island and returned to rejoin the Earl.[50]

The English in the sixteenth century, however, had no monopoly of this piratical game. The French did something in their own way, and the Dutch were not far behind. Indeed, the French may claim to have set the example for the Elizabethan freebooters, for in the first half of the sixteenth century privateers flocked to the Spanish Indies from Dieppe, Brest and the towns of the Basque coast. The gleam of the golden lingots of Peru, and the pale lights of the emeralds from the mountains of New Granada, exercised a hypnotic influence not only on ordinary seamen but on merchants and on seigneurs with depleted fortunes. Names like Jean Terrier, Jacques Sore and Francois le Clerc, the latter popularly called "Pie de Palo," or "wooden-leg," by the Spaniards, were as detestable in Spanish ears as those of the great English captains. Even before 1500 French corsairs hovered about Cape St Vincent and among the Azores and the Canaries; and their prowess and audacity were so feared that Columbus, on returning from his third voyage in 1498, declared that he had sailed for the island of Madeira by a new route to avoid meeting a French fleet which was awaiting him near St Vincent.[51] With the establishment of the system of armed convoys, however, and the presence of Spanish fleets on the coast of Europe, the corsairs suffered some painful reverses which impelled them to transfer their operations to American waters. Thereafter Spanish records are full of references to attacks by Frenchmen on Havana, St. Jago de Cuba, San Domingo and towns on the mainland of South and Central America; full of appeals, too, from the colonies to the neglectful authorities in Spain, urging them to send artillery, cruisers and munitions of war for their defence.[52]

A letter dated 8th April 1537, written by Gonzalo de Guzman to the Empress, furnishes us with some interesting details of the exploits of an anonymous French corsair in that year. In November 1536 this Frenchman had seized in the port of Chagre, on the Isthmus of Darien, a Spanish vessel laden with horses from San Domingo, had cast the cargo into the sea, put the crew on shore and sailed away with his prize. A month or two later he appeared off the coast of Havana and dropped anchor in a small bay a few leagues from the city. As there were then five Spanish ships lying in the harbour, the inhabitants compelled the captains to attempt the seizure of the pirate, promising to pay for the ships if they were lost. Three vessels of 200 tons each sailed out to the attack, and for several days they fired at the French corsair, which, being a patache of light draught, had run up the bay beyond their reach. Finally one morning the Frenchmen were seen pressing with both sail and oar to escape from the port. A Spanish vessel cut her cables to follow in pursuit, but encountering a heavy sea and contrary winds was abandoned by her crew, who made for shore in boats. The other two Spanish ships were deserted in similar fashion, whereupon the French, observing this new turn of affairs, re-entered the bay and easily recovered the three drifting vessels. Two of the prizes they burnt, and arming the third sailed away to cruise in the Florida straits, in the route of ships returning from the West Indies to Spain.[53]

The corsairs, however, were not always so uniformly successful. A band of eighty, who attempted to plunder the town of St. Jago de Cuba, were repulsed with some loss by a certain Diego Perez of Seville, captain of an armed merchant ship then in the harbour, who later petitioned for the grant of a coat-of-arms in recognition of his services.[54] In October 1544 six French vessels attacked the town of Santa Maria de los Remedios, near Cape de la Vela, but failed to take it in face of the stubborn resistance of the inhabitants. Yet the latter a few months earlier had been unable to preserve their homes from pillage, and had been obliged to flee to La Granjeria de las Perlas on the Rio de la Hacha.[55] There is small wonder, indeed, that the defenders were so rarely victorious. The Spanish towns were ill-provided with forts and guns, and often entirely without ammunition or any regular soldiers. The distance between the settlements as a rule was great, and the inhabitants, as soon as informed of the presence of the enemy, knowing that they had no means of resistance and little hope of succour, left their homes to the mercy of the freebooters and fled to the hills and woods with their families and most precious belongings. Thus when, in October 1554, another band of three hundred French privateers swooped down upon the unfortunate town of St. Jago de Cuba, they were able to hold it for thirty days, and plundered it to the value of 80,000 pieces of eight.[56] The following year, however, witnessed an even more remarkable action. In July 1555 the celebrated captain, Jacques Sore, landed two hundred men from a caravel a half-league from the city of Havana, and before daybreak marched on the town and forced the surrender of the castle. The Spanish governor had time to retire to the country, where he gathered a small force of Spaniards and negroes, and returned to surprise the French by night. Fifteen or sixteen of the latter were killed, and Sore, who himself was wounded, in a rage gave orders for the massacre of all the prisoners. He burned the cathedral and the hospital, pillaged the houses and razed most of the city to the ground. After transferring all the artillery to his vessel, he made several forays into the country, burned a few plantations, and finally sailed away in the beginning of August. No record remains of the amount of the booty, but it must have been enormous. To fill the cup of bitterness for the poor inhabitants, on 4th October there appeared on the coast another French ship, which had learned of Sore's visit and of the helpless state of the Spaniards. Several hundred men disembarked, sacked a few plantations neglected by their predecessors, tore down or burned the houses which the Spaniards had begun to rebuild, and seized a caravel loaded with leather which had recently entered the harbour.[57] It is true that during these years there was almost constant war in Europe between the Emperor and France; yet this does not entirely explain the activity of the French privateers in Spanish America, for we find them busy there in the years when peace reigned at home. Once unleash the sea-dogs and it was extremely difficult to bring them again under restraint.

With the seventeenth century began a new era in the history of the West Indies. If in the sixteenth the English, French and Dutch came to tropical America as piratical intruders into seas and countries which belonged to others, in the following century they came as permanent colonisers and settlers. The Spaniards, who had explored the whole ring of the West Indian islands before 1500, from the beginning neglected the lesser for the larger Antilles—Cuba, Hispaniola, Porto Rico and Jamaica—and for those islands like Trinidad, which lie close to the mainland. And when in 1519 Cortez sailed from Cuba for the conquest of Mexico, and twelve years later Pizarro entered Peru, the emigrants who left Spain to seek their fortunes in the New World flocked to the vast territories which the Conquistadores and their lieutenants had subdued on the Continent. It was consequently to the smaller islands which compose the Leeward and Windward groups that the English, French and Dutch first resorted as colonists. Small, and therefore "easy to settle, easy to depopulate and to re-people, attractive not only on account of their own wealth, but also as a starting-point for the vast and rich continent off which they lie," these islands became the pawns in a game of diplomacy and colonization which continued for 150 years.

In the seventeenth century, moreover, the Spanish monarchy was declining rapidly both in power and prestige, and its empire, though still formidable, no longer overshadowed the other nations of Europe as in the days of Charles V. and Philip II. France, with the Bourbons on the throne, was entering upon an era of rapid expansion at home and abroad, while the Dutch, by the truce of 1609, virtually obtained the freedom for which they had struggled so long. In England Queen Elizabeth had died in 1603, and her Stuart successor exchanged her policy of dalliance, of balance between France and Spain, for one of peace and conciliation. The aristocratic free-booters who had enriched themselves by harassing the Spanish Indies were succeeded by a less romantic but more business-like generation, which devoted itself to trade and planting. Abortive attempts at colonization had been made in the sixteenth century. The Dutch, who were trading in the West Indies as early as 1542, by 1580 seem to have gained some foothold in Guiana;[58] and the French Huguenots, under the patronage of the Admiral de Coligny, made three unsuccessful efforts to form settlements on the American continent, one in Brazil in 1555, another near Port Royal in South Carolina in 1562, and two years later a third on the St. John's River in Florida. The only English effort in the sixteenth century was the vain attempt of Sir Walter Raleigh between 1585 and 1590 to plant a colony on Roanoke Island, on the coast of what is now North Carolina. It was not till 1607 that the first permanent English settlement in America was made at Jamestown in Virginia. Between 1609 and 1619 numerous stations were established by English, Dutch and French in Guiana between the mouth of the Orinoco and that of the Amazon. In 1621 the Dutch West India Company was incorporated, and a few years later proposals for a similar company were broached in England. Among the West Indian Islands, St. Kitts received its first English settlers in 1623; and two years later the island was formally divided with the French, thus becoming the earliest nucleus of English and French colonization in those regions. Barbadoes was colonized in 1624-25. In 1628 English settlers from St. Kitts spread to Nevis and Barbuda, and within another four years to Antigua and Montserrat; while as early as 1625 English and Dutch took joint possession of Santa Cruz. The founders of the French settlement on St. Kitts induced Richelieu to incorporate a French West India Company with the title, "The Company of the Isles of America," and under its auspices Guadeloupe, Martinique and other islands of the Windward group were colonized in 1635 and succeeding years. Meanwhile between 1632 and 1634 the Dutch had established trading stations on St. Eustatius in the north, and on Tobago and Curacao in the south near the Spanish mainland.

While these centres of trade and population were being formed in the very heart of the Spanish seas, the privateers were not altogether idle. To the treaty of Vervins between France and Spain in 1598 had been added a secret restrictive article whereby it was agreed that the peace should not hold good south of the Tropic of Cancer and west of the meridian of the Azores. Beyond these two lines (called "les lignes de l'enclos des Amities") French and Spanish ships might attack each other and take fair prize as in open war. The ministers of Henry IV. communicated this restriction verbally to the merchants of the ports, and soon private men-of-war from Dieppe, Havre and St. Malo flocked to the western seas.[59] Ships loaded with contraband goods no longer sailed for the Indies unless armed ready to engage all comers, and many ship-captains renounced trade altogether for the more profitable and exciting occupation of privateering. In the early years of the seventeenth century, moreover, Dutch fleets harassed the coasts of Chile and Peru,[60] while in Brazil[61] and the West Indies a second "Pie de Palo," this time the Dutch admiral, Piet Heyn, was proving a scourge to the Spaniards. Heyn was employed by the Dutch West India Company, which from the year 1623 onwards, carried the Spanish war into the transmarine possessions of Spain and Portugal. With a fleet composed of twenty-six ships and 3300 men, of which he was vice-admiral, he greatly distinguished himself at the capture of Bahia, the seat of Portuguese power in Brazil. Similar expeditions were sent out annually, and brought back the rich spoils of the South American colonies. Within two years the extraordinary number of eighty ships, with 1500 cannon and over 9000 sailors and soldiers, were despatched to American seas, and although Bahia was soon retaken, the Dutch for a time occupied Pernambuco, as well as San Juan de Porto Rico in the West Indies.[62] In 1628 Piet Heyn was in command of a squadron designed to intercept the plate fleet which sailed every year from Vera Cruz to Spain. With thirty-one ships, 700 cannon and nearly 3000 men he cruised along the northern coast of Cuba, and on 8th September fell in with his quarry near Cape San Antonio. The Spaniards made a running fight along the coast until they reached the Matanzas River near Havana, into which they turned with the object of running the great-bellied galleons aground and escaping with what treasure they could. The Dutch followed, however, and most of the rich cargo was diverted into the coffers of the Dutch West India Company. The gold, silver, indigo, sugar and logwood were sold in the Netherlands for fifteen million guilders, and the company was enabled to distribute to its shareholders the unprecedented dividend of 50 per cent. It was an exploit which two generations of English mariners had attempted in vain, and the unfortunate Spanish general, Don Juan de Benavides, on his return to Spain was imprisoned for his defeat and later beheaded.[63]

In 1639 we find the Spanish Council of War for the Indies conferring with the King on measures to be taken against English piratical ships in the Caribbean;[64] and in 1642 Captain William Jackson, provided with an ample commission from the Earl of Warwick[65] and duplicates under the Great Seal, made a raid in which he emulated the exploits of Sir Francis Drake and his contemporaries. Starting out with three ships and about 1100 men, mostly picked up in St. Kitts and Barbadoes, he cruised along the Main from Caracas to Honduras and plundered the towns of Maracaibo and Truxillo. On 25th March 1643 he dropped anchor in what is now Kingston Harbour in Jamaica, landed about 500 men, and after some sharp fighting and the loss of forty of his followers, entered the town of St. Jago de la Vega, which he ransomed for 200 beeves, 10,000 lbs. of cassava bread and 7000 pieces of eight. Many of the English were so captivated by the beauty and fertility of the island that twenty-three deserted in one night to the Spaniards.[66]

The first two Stuart Kings, like the great Queen who preceded them, and in spite of the presence of a powerful Spanish faction at the English Court, looked upon the Indies with envious eyes, as a source of perennial wealth to whichever nation could secure them. James I., to be sure, was a man of peace, and soon after his accession patched up a treaty with the Spaniards; but he had no intention of giving up any English claims, however shadowy they might be, to America. Cornwallis, the new ambassador at Madrid, from a vantage ground where he could easily see the financial and administrative confusion into which Spain, in spite of her colonial wealth, had fallen, was most dissatisfied with the treaty. In a letter to Cranborne, dated 2nd July 1605, he suggested that England never lost so great an opportunity of winning honour and wealth as by relinquishing the war with Spain, and that Philip and his kingdom "were reduced to such a state as they could not in all likelihood have endured for the space of two years more."[67] This opinion we find repeated in his letters in the following years, with covert hints that an attack upon the Indies might after all be the most profitable and politic thing to do. When, in October 1607, Zuniga, the Spanish ambassador in London, complained to James of the establishment of the new colony in Virginia, James replied that Virginia was land discovered by the English and therefore not within the jurisdiction of Philip; and a week later Salisbury, while confiding to Zuniga that he thought the English might not justly go to Virginia, still refused to prohibit their going or command their return, for it would be an acknowledgment, he said, that the King of Spain was lord of all the Indies.[68] In 1609, in the truce concluded between Spain and the Netherlands, one of the stipulations provided that for nine years the Dutch were to be free to trade in all places in the East and West Indies except those in actual possession of the Spaniards on the date of cessation of hostilities; and thereafter the English and French governments endeavoured with all the more persistence to obtain a similar privilege. Attorney-General Heath, in 1625, presented a memorial to the Crown on the advantages derived by the Spaniards and Dutch in the West Indies, maintaining that it was neither safe nor profitable for them to be absolute lords of those regions; and he suggested that his Majesty openly interpose or permit it to be done underhand.[69] In September 1637 proposals were renewed in England for a West India Company as the only method of obtaining a share in the wealth of America. It was suggested that some convenient port be seized as a safe retreat from which to plunder Spanish trade on land and sea, and that the officers of the company be empowered to conquer and occupy any part of the West Indies, build ships, levy soldiers and munitions of war, and make reprisals.[70] The temper of Englishmen at this time was again illustrated in 1640 when the Spanish ambassador, Alonzo de Cardenas, protested to Charles I. against certain ships which the Earls of Warwick and Marlborough were sending to the West Indies with the intention, Cardenas declared, of committing hostilities against the Spaniards. The Earl of Warwick, it seems, pretended to have received great injuries from the latter and threatened to recoup his losses at their expense. He procured from the king a broad commission which gave him the right to trade in the West Indies, and to "offend" such as opposed him. Under shelter of this commission the Earl of Marlborough was now going to sea with three or four armed ships, and Cardenas prayed the king to restrain him until he gave security not to commit any acts of violence against the Spanish nation. The petition was referred to a committee of the Lords, who concluded that as the peace had never been strictly observed by either nation in the Indies they would not demand any security of the Earl. "Whether the Spaniards will think this reasonable or not," concludes Secretary Windebank in his letter to Sir Arthur Hopton, "is no great matter."[71]

During this century and a half between 1500 and 1650, the Spaniards were by no means passive or indifferent to the attacks made upon their authority and prestige in the New World. The hostility of the mariners from the north they repaid with interest, and woe to the foreign interloper or privateer who fell into their clutches. When Henry II. of France in 1557 issued an order that Spanish prisoners be condemned to the galleys, the Spanish government retaliated by commanding its sea-captains to mete out the same treatment to their French captives, except that captains, masters and officers taken in the navigation of the Indies were to be hung or cast into the sea.[72] In December 1600 the governor of Cumana had suggested to the King, as a means of keeping Dutch and English ships from the salt mines of Araya, the ingenious scheme of poisoning the salt. This advice, it seems, was not followed, but a few years later, in 1605, a Spanish fleet of fourteen galleons sent from Lisbon surprised and burnt nineteen Dutch vessels found loading salt at Araya, and murdered most of the prisoners.[73] In December 1604 the Venetian ambassador in London wrote of "news that the Spanish in the West Indies captured two English vessels, cut off the hands, feet, noses and ears of the crews and smeared them with honey and tied them to trees to be tortured by flies and other insects. The Spanish here plead," he continued, "that they were pirates, not merchants, and that they did not know of the peace. But the barbarity makes people here cry out."[74] On 22nd June 1606, Edmondes, the English Ambassador at Brussels, in a letter to Cornwallis, speaks of a London ship which was sent to trade in Virginia, and putting into a river in Florida to obtain water, was surprised there by Spanish vessels from Havana, the men ill-treated and the cargo confiscated.[75] And it was but shortly after that Captain Chaloner's ship on its way to Virginia was seized by the Spaniards in the West Indies, and the crew sent to languish in the dungeons of Seville or condemned to the galleys.

By attacks upon some of the English settlements, too, the Spaniards gave their threats a more effective form. Frequent raids were made upon the English and Dutch plantations in Guiana;[76] and on 8th-18th September 1629 a Spanish fleet of over thirty sail, commanded by Don Federico de Toledo, nearly annihilated the joint French and English colony on St. Kitts. Nine English ships were captured and the settlements burnt. The French inhabitants temporarily evacuated the island and sailed for Antigua; but of the English some 550 were carried to Cartagena and Havana, whence they were shipped to England, and all the rest fled to the mountains and woods.[77] Within three months' time, however, after the departure of the Spaniards, the scattered settlers had returned and re-established the colony. Providence Island and its neighbour, Henrietta, being situated near the Mosquito Coast, were peculiarly exposed to Spanish attack;[78] while near the north shore of Hispaniola the island of Tortuga, which was colonized by the same English company, suffered repeatedly from the assaults of its hostile neighbours. In July 1635 a Spanish fleet from the Main assailed the island of Providence, but unable to land among the rocks, was after five days beaten off "considerably torn" by the shot from the fort.[79] On the strength of these injuries received and of others anticipated, the Providence Company obtained from the king the liberty "to right themselves" by making reprisals, and during the next six years kept numerous vessels preying upon Spanish commerce in those waters. King Philip was therefore all the more intent upon destroying the plantation.[80] He bided his time, however, until the early summer of 1641, when the general of the galleons, Don Francisco Diaz Pimienta, with twelve sail and 2000 men, fell upon the colony, razed the forts and carried off all the English, about 770 in number, together with forty cannon and half a million of plunder.[81] It was just ten years later that a force of 800 men from Porto Rico invaded Santa Cruz, whence the Dutch had been expelled by the English in 1646, killed the English governor and more than 100 settlers, seized two ships in the harbour and burnt and pillaged most of the plantations. The rest of the inhabitants escaped to the woods, and after the departure of the Spaniards deserted the colony for St. Kitts and other islands.[82]


[Footnote 1: Herrera: Decades II. 1, p. 4, cited in Scelle: la Traite Negriere, I. p. 6. Note 2.]

[Footnote 2: Scelle, op. cit., i. pp. 6-9.]

[Footnote 3: "Por cuanto los pacificaciones no se han de hacer con ruido de armas, sino con caridad y buen modo."—Recop. de leyes ... de las Indias, lib. vii. tit. 1.]

[Footnote 4: Scelle, op. cit., i. p. 35.]

[Footnote 5: Weiss: L'Espagne depuis Philippe II. jusqu'aux Bourbons., II. pp. 204 and 215. Not till 1722 was legislative sanction given to this practice.

M. Lemonnet wrote to Colbert in 1670 concerning this commerce:—"Quelque perquisition qu'on ait faite dans ce dernier temps aux Indes pour decouvrir les biens des Francois, ils ont plustost souffert la prison que de rien declarer ... toute les merchandises qu'on leur donne a porter aux Indes sont chargees sous le nom d'Espagnols, que bien souvent n'en ont pas connaissance, ne jugeant pas a propos de leur en parler, afin de tenir les affaires plus secretes et qu'il n'y ait que le commissionaire a le savoir, lequel en rend compte a son retour des Indes, directement a celui qui en a donne la cargaison en confiance sans avoir nul egard pour ceux au nom desquels le chargement a ete fait, et lorsque ces commissionaires reviennent des Indes soit sur le flottes galions ou navires particuliers, ils apportent leur argent dans leurs coffres, la pluspart entre pont et sans connoissement." (Margry: Relations et memoires inedits pour servir a l'histoire de la France dans les pays d'outremer, p. 185.)

The importance to the maritime powers of preserving and protecting this clandestine trade is evident, especially as the Spanish government frequently found it a convenient instrument for retaliating upon those nations against which it harboured some grudge. All that was necessary was to sequester the vessels and goods of merchants belonging to the nation at which it wished to strike. This happened frequently in the course of the seventeenth century. Thus Lerma in 1601 arrested the French merchants in Spain to revenge himself on Henry IV. In 1624 Olivares seized 160 Dutch vessels. The goods of Genoese merchants were sequestered by Philip IV. in 1644; and in 1684 French merchandize was again seized, and Mexican traders whose storehouses contained such goods were fined 500,000 ecus, although the same storehouses contained English and Dutch goods which were left unnoticed. The fine was later restored upon Admiral d'Estrees' threat to bombard Cadiz. The solicitude of the French government for this trade is expressed in a letter of Colbert to the Marquis de Villars, ambassador at Madrid, dated 5th February 1672:—"Il est tellement necessaire d'avoir soin d'assister les particuliers qui font leur trafic en Espagne, pour maintenir le plus important commerce que nous ayons, que je suis persuade que vous ferez toutes les instances qui pourront dependre de vous ... en sorte que cette protection produira des avantages considerables au commerce des sujets de Sa Majeste" (ibid., p. 188).

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