Piracy in Decline


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      By 1680, European nation states such as England, France, and the Netherlands began to view the Buccaneers as a severe problem, and for the first time they collectively set out to supress them.  The Buccaneers of this time period, generally English or French in nationality, began an era of piracy more damaging than ever before.  By 1684, piracy had become such a problem that the Governer of France stopped granting letters of marque to priviteers.  As the problem of piracy continued to grow, however, so to did the desire of the European nations to eliminate it.  Pirates were faced with increasing hostility and their targets of booty were becoming more adequetly protected, thus harder to seize.  The efforts of the European nation states was now more and more effective, but The War of the Great Alliance in 1689 thrawted those efforts.  The War of the Great Alliance brought back the use of privateers on a large scale and gave many men the oppurtunity to participate in legal, legitimate piracy.  The threat of piracy had returned but following the war a new type of pirate would emerge. 

      After the war the Buccaneers were all but eliminated but a new group of pirates, known as the freebooters, expanded in the years to come.  On June 7, 1692 the Buccaneers suffered a devastating blow when one of their most popular "hang outs" of Port Royal was destroyed by an earthquake.  Later in 1697, the Buccaneer era of piracy finally and officially ended when the French sacked Cartegena. 

      Once again as piracy was about to fade away a war would quickly bring it back.  The War of the Spanish Succession from 1702 - 1713 marked the begining of the last wave of pirates in the Carribean, a wave that would have more raids on the English, Danish, Dutch, and French than ever before.  Similar to The War of the Great Alliance, The War of the Spanish Succession also brought back the use of privateering, and when the war ended many of those privateers had no where to go.  No longer a part of the Royal Navy, a great number of these men meet up in the Bahamas where they planned several raids agianst mainly the French and English. 

      In the years following 1713, piracy was once again becoming more and more of a problem and the pirates of this era were regarded as the cruelest, most notorious group ever.  They had successfully raided the French and English many times and had done so without much damage to themselves.  Eventually, it was a privately financed expedition led by Governor Woodes Rodgers that succesfully drove the pirates from the Bahamas.  In the end, it was English property law and local resistance that led to the decline and fall of the Buccaneer pirates.