Captain Jennings Causes Chaos
Early 17th century England saw the emergence of pirates, much romanticised creatures whose lives were often nasty, brutish and short. Adrian Tinniswood examines one such career.
Where are the days that have been ... when we might do what we list, and the law would bear us out in it? When the whole sea was our empire, where we rob at will?’One consequence of the Somerset House Conference, which brought an end to the ‘long and most cruel ravage of wars’ between England and Spain in the summer of 1604, was the cessation of privateering. This legal variant on piracy, whereby private individuals carrying letters of marque from their government were permitted to seize goods and ships belonging to an enemy, was big business. In the late 1590s at least 85 privateers were operating out of London and the south coast ports and the prizes they brought home accounted for between 10 and 15 per cent of English imports.
(Andrew Barker, A True and Certaine Report of ... two late famous Pirates, 1609)
This article is available to History Today online subscribers only. If you are a subscriber, please log in.
Please choose one of these options to access this article:
- Purchase an online subscription
- Purchase a print and online subscription
- If you are already a print subscriber, purchase the online archive upgrade
Call our Subscriptions department on +44 (0)20 3219 7813 for more information.
If you are logged in but still cannot access the article, please contact us
- Middle East
- North America
- South America
- Central America
- Early Modern
- 20th Century
- Economic History
- Environmental History
- Food & Drink
- Historical Memory
- Science & Technology