1640s in piracy



  • António Vieira, a Portuguese Jesuit, publishes a document denouncing the actions of the West India Company which employed privateers to attack Spanish and Portuguese shipping in the West Indies. Between 1623 and 1637, 609 ships were captured by privateering activities on the WIC.[1]
  • A group of fifty French Calvinists led by engineer François le Vasseur leave St. Kitts and eventually arrive in Tortuga. Driving out the local Spanish inhabitants, the colonists begin the construction of a fort on the southeast end of the island overlooking the harbor.[2] Cutting steps into the rock cliff and used an iron ladder to reach the top of the cliff when the angle of the steps became to steep to climb. Building a near impregnable fortress called the Dove-cote, the fort was built to be inaccessible save for the steps cut into the rock cliff and an iron ladder to reach the top of the cliff when the angle of the steps became to steep to climb. The Calvinists successfully defended the island as the Spanish returned later that year sinking several ships before retreating.[3]
  • Spanish colonial authorities in Hispaniola launch a campaign to drive out the pirates gathered in Tortuga, of whom were predominantly English and French, in an attempt to put a stop to the constant attacks on Spanish shipping in the West Indies. Although initially successful, the island would become a major haven for pirates later known as buccaneers throughout the late-1650s when Col. Edward Doyley invited the inhabitants to operate from Jamaica.[4]
  • May – A second attempt by the Spanish to capture the English Providence Island colony, a joint Spanish/Portuguese fleet consisting of 700 men and thirteen ships including the Black Robin (the former HMS Robert, the captured flagship of the Earl of Warwick), is led by Sergeant Major Antonio Maldonado de Texeda. Although founded by Puritans who had left the Massachusetts Bay Colony, the island was regarded as a "den of thievery" by Captain General of Cartagena Melchor de Aguilera and was used as a stopping point by privateers due to its natural harbors and close proximity to Cartagena and Portobello. English privateer William Jackson had visited the island earlier that year before returning to England by the end of winter.[5]

Arts and literatureEdit


  • Francis Knight's A Relation of Seven Yeares Slaverie Under the Turkes of Argeire, suffered by an English Captive Merchant is published.



  • John Narborough, English navigator and admiral who took part in a privateering expedition against the Spanish in the South Seas between 1669 and 1671.[6]


  1. ^ Frijhoff, Willem and Marijke Spies. Dutch Culture in a European Perspective. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004. (pg. 29) ISBN 90-232-3963-6
  2. ^ Lane, Kris E. Pillaging the Empire: Piracy in the Americas – 1500–1750. London: M.E. Sharp, 1998. (pg. 100) ISBN 0-7656-0256-3
  3. ^ Bradford, Alfred S. Flying the Black Flag: A Brief History of Piracy. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 2007. (pg. 90) ISBN 0-275-97781-1
  4. ^ Pestana, Carla Gardina. The English Atlantic in an Age of Revolution, 1640–1661. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2004. (pg. 199) ISBN 0-674-01502-9
  5. ^ Kupperman, Karen Ordahl. Providence Island, 1630–1641: The Other Puritan Colony. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993. (pg. 287-90) ISBN 0-521-55835-2
  6. ^ Jameson, John Franklin. Privateering and Piracy in the Colonial Period: Illustrative Documents. New York: Macmillan Company, 1923.