Spanish Sea: The Gulf of Mexico in North American Discovery, 1500-1685

By Robert S. Weddle | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 21
The Bloody Buccaneers: Harbingers of Change, 1669-85

HEADING west from the Caymans in the spring of 1669 were a frigate and two brigantines, all heavily armed and flying the British flag. Of the three captains--one English, the other two Dutch--two had taken part in Henry Morgan's sack of Portobelo the previous June. They had missed Morgan's raid on Maracaibo earlier in 1669--when he destroyed the feeble Armada de Barlovento--only because they were engaged at the time in bloody slaughter at Cumaná. By name, these captains were Bran (or Brand), the Englishman; Roque, described in Spanish documents as a Dutch native of Brazil; and Juanes Ycles de Cot.

The only one of the three to win prominence in the annals of piracy is Roque, known by the pseudonym Roche Brasiliano. This rogue, says John Esquemeling, the pirate-turned-author, was noted for roasting his Spanish captives alive, reflecting not only his brutal nature but also a bitter hatred born of a previous experience at Campeche.

The three westering ships, after clearing the Yucatán Channel into the Gulf, coasted Yucatán toward the Laguna de Términos, their eyes peeled for plunder. For two or three weeks they hung about San Francisco de Campeche, seizing two men and their cargo of salt at the Campeche salines. Then Roque's men went ashore to rob a village three leagues down the coast, and two of his men were killed by the villagers. Ycles, meantime, sacked the church at nearby Lerma, where Brand's frigate seized a flour-laden vessel from Havana.

The pirates spent two months at the Laguna de Términos, in company with other poachers, laying in turtle meat. Roque's brigantine was careened, while Ycles loaded up with dyewood. Such activities represented the practical side of piracy; when there were no ships to

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