The impact of the natural world on an infamous era of maritime history, the Golden Age of Piracy, is immense, yet often overlooked. Piracy at the time was exacerbated by the dichotomy between rich and poor, where pirates fought for a life without the pressures of European Colonial powers. The New World was ripe for the picking, and pirates used any means possible to increase their wealth. However, geography, weather, disease, and natural disasters have all altered the historical course of piratical endeavors. This essay provides a detailed account of events where pirates were either hindered by, or benefitted from, the natural world, while struggling to understand its mechanisms. Included are stories of William Dampier, who simultaneously revolutionized the understanding of wind, while performing serious acts of piracy; of Francios L'Olonnais, who used the surrounding geography to succeed in his violent raids of plunder in Maracaibo; and of Henry Jennings, who capitalized on a hurricane-ravaged Spanish Treasure Fleet. Together, these stories demonstrate that pirates, like all humans, are ultimately subjects of nature.
Meeks, Thomas R. Jr.. "Nurturing Nature During the Golden Age of Piracy." The Purdue Historian 8, 1 (2017). https://docs.lib.purdue.edu/puhistorian/vol8/iss1/5