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The buccaneers were privateers who attacked Spanish shipping in the Caribbean Sea during the late 17th century.

The term buccaneer is now used generally as a synonym for pirate. Originally, buccaneer crews were larger, more apt to attack coastal cities, and more localized to the Caribbean than later pirate crews who sailed to the Indian Ocean on the Pirate Round in the late 17th century.

The word buccaneer is derived from the French "boucanier", which roughly translates as "someone who smokes meat" and which in turn comes from the native American "bukan". The Caribbean Arawak used this word to describe a sort of grill on which they smoked meat, preferably Manatee.



The term buccaneer derives from the Arawak word buccan, a wooden frame for smoking meat, hence the French word boucane and the name boucanier for French hunters who used such frames to smoke meat from feral cattle and pigs on Hispaniola (now Haiti and the Dominican Republic).[2] English colonists anglicised the word boucanier to buccaneer.

About 1630, some Frenchmen who were driven away from the island of Hispaniola fled to nearby Tortuga. The Spaniards tried to drive them out of Tortuga, but the buccaneers were joined by many other French, Dutch and English and turned to piracy against Spanish shipping, generally using small craft to attack galleons in the vicinity of the Windward Passage. Finally they became so strong that they even sailed to the mainland of Spanish America and sacked cities.

English settlers occupying Jamaica began to spread the name buccaneers with the meaning of pirates. The name became universally adopted later in 1684 when the first English translation of Alexandre Exquemelin's book The Buccaneers of America was published.

Viewed from London, buccaneering was a low-budget way to wage war on England's rival, Spain. So, the English crown licensed buccaneers with letters of marque, legalizing their operations in return for a share of their profits. The buccaneers were invited by Jamaica's Governor Thomas Modyford to base ships at Port Royal. The buccaneers robbed Spanish shipping and colonies, and returned to Port Royal with their plunder, making the city the most prosperous in the Caribbean. There even were Navy Royal officers sent to lead the buccaneers, such as Christopher Myngs. Their activities went on irrespective of whether England happened to be at war with Spain or France.

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