Pirates and Buccaneers: Seaborne Terrorism in the Early Modern World
This course will sort out the myths and realities of the “Golden Age of Piracy.” The emergence of Spain as a political and economic superpower in the early sixteenth century bred waves of French, English, and Dutch interlopers, contraband slave traders, seaborne raiders, freebooters, and privateers eager to thwart her attempt at hegemony and expropriate her wealth. Their success gave rise to a multi-national and cross-cultural underworld of violence and crime on the high seas that flourished nearly unchecked from the mid-seventeenth century until its suppression in the early decades of the eighteenth century. The response of the early modern world to piracy and buccaneering is embedded in the “Law of Nations” and the “Law of the Sea,” progenitors of modern international law. Participants in this course will engage a rich body of primary and secondary historical sources to reconstruct and interpret the multiple contexts within which piracy and buccaneering operated.