Monday, 26 March 2018

de americaensche zee-roovers

Without the contributions of a Flemish chronicler and ship’s surgeon Alexandre Olivier Exquemelin, our pirate lore and tales of swash-buckling would be rather impoverished.
Having himself enlisted as a privateer with the buccaneering Sir Henry Morgan, later reformed as the lieutenant governor of Jamaica, Exquemelin appeared on the muster rolls of several vessels operating in the Caribbean over a period of several years, with a significant hiatus before retiring around 1670 to commit his pirate biographies to paper. The Buccaneers of America includes some pretty fantastic accounts and recalls stories of the daring raids by Captain Bartholomew Sharp, the demented treatment of prisoners by Alexandre Bras-de-Fer (Iron Arms) and the infamous cannibal François Lolonois whose conceits inform our own ideas of how pirates ought to behave. The urge for embellishment and mythologizing becomes appear almost right away with subsequent printings and translations betraying a complex bibliographic history and wild tales of adventure on the high sea being inserted on the foundation of Exquemelin’s reported experience.