Above painting: Louis Jean Francois - Mars and Venus an Allegory of Peace


***All photos accompanying posts are either owned by the author of said post or are in the public domain -- NOT the property of History Undressed. If you'd like to obtain permission to use a picture from a post, please contact the author of the post.***

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Yuletide with a Dutch Pirate

What do pirates do at Christmastime? Raid, of course.

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"
Laurens Cornelis Boudewijn de Graaf (1653-1704) was a successful pirate. Hey, any day you don’t end up hanging from the gallows makes you successful. He was born in the Dutch Republic (Netherlands, today) but was kidnapped as a child by Spanish slavers and sold in the Canary Islands. Fifteen years later, de Graaf emerged a free man and soon found his calling, going on the account as a French privateer. By the 1670s, the tall, blonde, handsome de Graaf had become legendary. Even privateer—though questionable in his exploits—turned Jamaican governor Henry Morgan called him a “great and mischievous pirate”. He captured and looted a great many ships, turning some to piracy thereby growing his fleet. He had no fear in attacking a Spanish armada and was formidable at open sea battles. De Graaf and his fleet were prosperous men.

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.

Since it is the holidays, treat yourself to a free e-book, just by signing up for my newsletter.

About the Author

Jennifer is the award-winning author of the Romancing the Pirate series. Visit her at www.jbrayweber.com or join her mailing list for sneak peeks, excerpts, and giveaways.


Carly Carson said...

But how did he die? He only lived to be 51. Was it the gallows in the end?

Jennifer Bray-Weber said...

No one is really sure how he died, but it is unlikely it was at a rope's end. He sort of disappeared from the public eye. It is believed he died in 1704 at a French colony he was helping establish in Mississippi. Other reports have him dying in Alabama or Cap Fran├žois, Haiti.