Wednesday, October 12, 2011

After Columbus, who seized the treasures?

The History of Pirates. / By Angus Konstam. Published by The Lyons Press, 2002 (c1999). In Association with the Mariners’ Museum, Virginia; Introduction by David Cordingly. 192 pages, color illustrations, index.

After Columbus’s ships besieged the islands of the Caribbean Ocean as early as 1492, North America became the new found conquest and source of gold. It was a time when three European nations fought each other on the seas, on rivers, in bays and inlets, all scrambling for riches they’d carried off from less savvy peoples, natives of foreign lands of North America, Southeast Asia and the Far East.

Piracy, the act of capturing and pillaging merchant ships, was one of the causes of success for the English and French as they vied for lands and treasure in the waters around the New World between 1500 and 1700AD.

Would you like to know more about how the underworld of this embezzlement ran? Konstam has gathered a collection of well-known accounts and illustrations of the pirates, timelines and maps. His book covers, albeit romantically, piratical history from ancient and medieval times to the Barbary Coast on the Mediterranean Sea: the first three chapters of this book are a backdrop to the torrid story of daring, violence and conspiracy that are hallmarks of the trade. And in the chapters from the Barbary Pirates and The Spanish Main forward to the Golden Age of Piracy (1690-1730), author Angus Konstam delivers mini biographical sketches of these most in-famous, terrifying and inscrutable bandits of the seas. See the last four chapters for calamitous misfortunes of maritime merchant traders in the Indian ocean and Asia as well as the effects of privateers on major sea battles.

From the Wikipedia article, “Pirates fight over treasure in a Howard Pyle illustration”.

One of the illustrators featured in The History of Pirates is Howard Pyle, considered to be an excellent illuminator of past times. In his illustration, “Which shall be Captain”, the sword fight determines the one who’ll claim the title “captain” and become leader of the band of marauders then known as pirates, buccaneers, or corsairs or freebooters.

Read more about pirates in books from the Los Angeles Maritime Museum Research Library. If you’re a Museum Member, you can borrow books for up to three weeks. If you’re looking for more information, click here for our online catalog.