Pirates_of_the_CaribbeanI am not talking about the recent Disney movies here, more about the two British seafarers who had a significant impact on this part of the world. I have been hearing a lot about them since arriving in Panama so thought I would pass some of that on.

In particular I am talking about Sir Francis Drake and Admiral Sir Henry Morgan who caused quite a lot more havoc than I have whilst visiting the region in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries respectively.

Sir Francis DrakeOn his ship The Golden Hind Sir Francis Drake was the first person from Britain to circumnavigate the globe, and I suspect that feat was a tad harder than my own trip in 2013. He was also largely responsible for the defeat of the Spanish Armada when it intened to attack England in 1588, but that is just as well because he was probably part responsible for the Armada being created in the first place due to number of attacks that privateers like him made on the Spanish settlements in this neck of the woods. Under the sponsorship of the English monarchy Drake and others like him would sail into the ports and steal all the gold and silver warehoused here ready for transport across the Atlantic, which the Spanish had in turn largely stolen from the indigenous people here.

He also died off the coast of Panama after contracting dyssentry on the last of such voyages. The lead coffin he was buried at sea in near Isla Grande on the Caribbean coast is still being looked for by treasure hunters today.

Henry MorganHalf a century later Henry Morgan, who was originally from South Wales, was up to the same sort of mischief. He is remembered as the greatest of the privateers, amassing huge fleets and attacking prominent targets. His three most famous exploits were the 1668 sack of Portobello (which is just down the coast from Colon), the 1669 raid on Maracaibo in Venezuela and the 1671 attack on Panama City. Most of this was done with the support of King Charles II of England but the attack on Panama City with about 1,000 men in which the city was destroyed, was undertaken after a peace treaty had been signed between England and Spain, so you can imagine that the Spanish were not best pleased.

captain_morganMorgan was summoned back to London because the situation was at the very least embarrassing for the English too. However not only was he never punished, but he was feted by the gentry and commoners alike upon his return who were impressed with his exploits. He was also knighted by the king and then sent back to his base in Jamaica as Lieutenant Governor of the island, where he worked on improving the defenses of the island which was Britain’s jewel in the Caribbean crown.

He was guilty of the death and torture of countless innocent Spanish civilians and spread terror far and wide on the Spanish Main, but the English loved him. So much so that the Captain Morgan dark rum that you may enjoy today over ice with coke is named after him.

All of which means I have a lot to live up to in the time I have left here! What would they call the drink they name after me?




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