A Review Of Under The Black Flag

1151 words - 5 pages

Each privateer built his or her, in some cases, lives around not only what was best for them, but also what was best for their ruler and kingdom. The definition of a privateer according to the Webster Dictionary is: "A ship privately owned and crewed but authorized by a government during wartime to attack and capture enemy vessels." The difference between being a pirate and being a privateer is that when you are a pirate you are carrying out this naval warfare without enlistment, or "Letters of Marque", from the government. "Letters of Marque" are a license to a private citizen to seize property of another nation. The motives of the rulers and the privateers are not always very clear. There is a fine line between piracy and privateering, and it is not always based upon a "Letter of Marque." Privateers and rulers, just as pirates, have motives for their actions. What are these motives is what most interests historians today about pirates and their voyages of blunder and destruction. "Under the Black Flag" by David Cordingly gives very good insight into what is believed to be the motives on both sides of the equation; what is the ruler getting and what is the privateer getting?Let us look first at the idealistic pirate. A person who can really not be known to be a pirate, a corsair, or a privateer. He was all of these; Sir Henry Morgan. His beginnings are truly uncertain and history seems to have lost him early in his life. We do know that what he was, has and probably always will be up for debate. By law, Morgan was a privateer. He carried a "letter of Marque" from England and from the Governor of Jaimaca during every battle or raid he fought. According to the code, Morgan was a privateer, but there is much debate because a lot of his raids happened during time of peace. The privateers specifically chose certain locations to attack because they knew it contained large quantities of riches. "Panama was the principal treasure port on the Pacific coast of Central America for the gold and silver which was brought by ship from Peru and Potosí (Cordingly 51)." The rulers and the privateers always had motives for doing what they did, even if it was a time of war. He had once been captured and sent back to London following his sacking of Panama City (Cordingly 43)." London accepted him with open arms and treated him as royalty. This goes to show that the rulers of these kingdoms that allowed and expected piracy or privateering showed their liking of it. Sir Morgan grew incredibly wealthy from his raids on Spaniards all over the Atlantic. He became infamous for his cunning and his ability to fool. All of this was sactioned by the English government. They used Morgan to destroy the Spanish and to pirate their riched and make them their own. This was part of the way the English was able to continually grow. They took riches from other empires, while still being able to take them down at the same time. This is why piracy was so popular because it...

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