The Count of Ericeira and the Pirates

C.R. Boxer describes how the cultivated Viceroy of Portuguese India, on his way home from Goa, had a costly misadventure in the Indian Ocean.

Professor Auguste Toussaint has pointed out in his short but authoritative History of the Indian Ocean (1966) that during the period from about 1685 to 1726, the great Dutch, English, and French East-India Companies did not have a firm hold on the maritime trade of that Sea and they could not even lay down the law there, except perhaps in extremely limited areas.

Large-scale piracy, chiefly by buccaneers of European and North American origins, was rampant; and for much of this period there was a multi-national community or republic of pirates, which they named Libertalia, and which was based on Madagascar.

They attacked Arab, Indian, and European vessels indiscriminately, and they had accomplices in many Indian ports, including Dutch Cochin and English Bombay, who supplied them with information about the movements of shipping, and who often purchased part of their booty.

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