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Home > History > Explorer Legends, Goals, and Destinations - Pirates

Explorer Legends, Goals, and Destinations - Pirates

This page describes the roles of pirates during the Age of Exploration.

Pirate Hotspots

Pirate Hotspots in and Around the Caribbean Sea


Piracy in the Caribbean Sea, sometimes called the Golden Age of Piracy, reached its peak in the mid-1600s before gradually dying out in the early 1800s, after the navies of the United States and European nations began actively attacking pirates. Various Caribbean seaports such as those shown on the map above provided safe havens for some of the world’s most notorious pirates such as Blackbeard and Calico Jack Rackham.

Many Pirates in the Caribbean Sea were sponsored by foreign governments who hoped to disrupt the trade empires of Spain and Portugal. Such pirates were called privateers. English pirates, such as Sir Francis Drake, were often given a letter of marque, which was essentially a license to pirate. These pirates would plunder treasure ships heading back to Spain and would keep a portion of the goods and riches they could steal.


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