A pirate or privateer who preyed on Spanish shipping and settlements in the Caribbean and South America in the 17th century. Mainly of British, French, and Dutch stock, buccaneers made their headquarters first on Tortuga Island off Haiti and then on Jamaica. In wartime they formed a mercenary navy for Spain's enemies, fighting with reckless bravery. Their triumphs included the sackings of Porto Bello, Panama, Chagres, New Segovia, and Maracaibo. Henry Morgan was their most famous commander. After 1680 they penetrated to the Pacific coast of South America. Their power and prosperity rapidly declined in the early 18th century.
Subjects: Maritime History — World History.