Pirate Laurens de Graaf had himself a fine Christmas in 1683 when he raided Cartagena.
|Gesel van de West|
Dutch for "Scourge of the West"
In November 1683, de Graaf and his fleet arrived off the coast of Cartagena. They dropped anchor taking a month to plan their invasion of the city by water and by land. As you might imagine, this made the people quite uneasy. In an effort to save his town, Governor Juan de Pando Estrada commandeered three well-gunned slave ships and outfitted them with reportedly eight hundred men. On Christmas eve, they sailed out to meet with de Graaf. But alas, they were no match for the pirates. Nearly one hundred Spaniards were killed compared to the twenty pirates and the three ships fell to Dutch buccaneer.
|Hunting pirates with pirates|
On Christmas Day, de Graaf released many of the prisoners, sending a thank you to Governor Estrada for the Christmas presents. The port was blockaded and de Graaf ransomed the rest of the hostages.
Come January, the English offered a pardon and commission, which he declined. He had trust issues, not believing the Spanish would uphold a pardon. But he did sail away from Cartagena without further incident.
Laurens de Graaf continued on with his fortuitous and colorful life, earning him respect on both sides of the law.