This is by no means a complete list of my source material for the raised By Wolves series; nor is this article only about the books: nor is it truly an article or essay per se. It’s just a list of the books I used and my observations about them. I have made an attempt to put much of the material in social context for both the time period and for a current reader. – W. A. Hoffman
The following are not only primary in the sense that they predate anything else I could get my hands on, but also in terms of what proved to be the most useful. All four of these works rely primarily on original records and material and not upon each other; though all pay homage to Exquemelin’s first hand account of certain events.
The Buccaneers of America - Alexander O. Exquemelin – The version I own was published by Dover and translated by Alexis Brown, and is purportedly the first accurate translation based on the original Dutch. The Buccaneers of America in any of its many forms is the granddaddy of all source material on the buccaneers. Exquemelin was purportedly a Dutchman who ended up as a bondsmen on Tortuga, was trained as a surgeon by his last master, and went on to sail with the buccaneers in Morgan’s raids between 1668 and 1671. Then he returned to Amsterdam and wrote this book.
It was first published in Dutch in 1678 as De Americaensche Zee-Rovers. There was a German translation in 1679, Americanische Seerauber, and a Spanish version in 1681, Piratas de la America. The first English translation was published in 1684, Bucaniers of America, and was taken from the Spanish version. Another English version followed, The History of the Bucaniers, which was possibly more a retelling than a translation. Henry Morgan promptly sued both English publishers for libel and both English versions were amended.
I make note of all that because, as source material, everyone writing on the buccaneers must refer to this book. (I include both Burney and Haring’s observation of the accuracy of Exquemelin in their respective book entries below.) It must be noted, that though everyone uses this book, they are not all referring to the same version. I have read my English translation from the Dutch and then seen many references in other books quoting unrecognizable passages from other language translations. Since I am creating a work of fiction and not a historical text, I decided I was going to go with the gist of the information from this version and the material found in other books taken from the other versions. If I was going to write a text book, I would research every possible version I could find.
In reading The Buccaneers of America, I formed two very important impressions that I felt I needed to keep in mind while interpreting the work. One, Exquemelin really hated Morgan, and to some degree the other buccaneers. He had some axes to grind. However, much of what he says is born out by Spanish and other English records as far as key events go. And when you look at the things that did occur; he had every reason to be pissed off. Two, this was written as a sensationalist piece to cater to an audience hungry for gossip of the New World. Any reader of it for historical reasons must take many things he says with the old grain of salt. He’s a bit prone to exaggeration. For example, crocodiles on Hispaniola were probably not forty feet long, nor were the palm trees two hundred feet tall. Quite frankly, any of his accounts of the flora and fauna or the habits of the indigenous people is to be mistrusted. His accounts of the buccaneers themselves have to be carefully considered, but all the tales told of them by the source writers have to be judged in terms of whom the documenter was and who they were writing for.
One of the many bits I found amusing follows. This is in discussion of how poorly bondsmen were treated on the Haiti (at the time this was not a country, but the term used for the high country of Hispaniola.) “Sundays they spent carrying the hides down to the beach and putting them in the boats. There was a bondsman who badly wanted a rest, and told his master God had ordained seven days in a week – six for labor and the seventh for rest. His master did not interpret matters this way. He thrashed the lad unmercifully with a stick saying, “Get on you bugger; my commands are these – six days shall thou collect hides, and the seventh thou shalt bring them to the beach.”” I found it very funny because it is obviously an attempt to show how un-Christian the buccaneers were for the civilized audience back home.
Exquemelin goes on to talk about how cruel the buccaneers were to their bondsmen, and later, to the Spanish in the captured towns, but the reality is, it was a rough time for everyone. He would have been well aware of that. Cruel and unusual punishment was de rigueur in criminal matters. There were no laws against spouse or child abuse. There was no Geneva Convention. Corporal punishment was acceptable by any master of any servant or apprentice, by any officer of any man in military service, or by any Lord of any peasant. And don’t forget the Spanish Inquisition… People beat and tortured each other all the time.
All the European powers also had a wonderful tendency for hypocritically vilifying every other nation around them for committing atrocities that they did themselves. Exquemelin was telling Europeans that the English had loosed a bunch of rabid dogs upon the Spanish Main. The buccaneers were wild men who did not truly owe allegiance to any crown, thus they were outlaws, thus you could sell a lot of books telling even Englishmen that these rogues were horrible people. It doesn’t behoove any society to have the people not toeing the party line look good. And people have always loved reading about cruelty, torture, death and the excesses of barbarians. So occasionally Exquemelin does not make sense, but he did make cents.
The History of the Buccaneers of America – James Burney – was originally published in English in 1816 as one of five volumes of the author’s A Chronological History of the Voyages and Discoveries in the South Sea or Pacific Ocean. I had a stroke of luck and got hold of a 1902 reprint on Alibris.com. Here’s an interesting thought for all of you Patrick O’Brian, Master and Commander series, readers. Burney was alive and researching and writing this book during the years the Master and Commander series is set.
This is a historical work written by a liberal thinker who was not enamored with English foreign policy. His discussion of what transpired with the Darien Indians, who pledged allegiance to England and were turned over to the Spanish because the English king probably didn’t even know they existed, is a sad commentary on many things wrong with foreign policy in general. His exhaustive account of what went wrong with Columbus, and how he and the men that followed him, circumvented Queen Isabella’s and the Church’s recommendations and edicts concerning the Indians on Hispaniola is also of interest.
Burney uses a great deal of French and Spanish source material. While he does quote Exquemelin, he serves as a good check against the Dutchman’s sensationalism. He says this about Exquemelin, “Exquemelin’s book contains only partial accounts of the actions of some of the principal among the Buccaneers. He has set forth the valor displayed by them in the most advantageous light; but generally, what he has related is credible. His history has been translated into all the major European languages, but with various additions and alterations by the translators, each of whom has been inclined to maintain the military reputation of his own nation.”
Burney is more interested in politics than the day to day life of buccaneers, and he covers a great deal more than the Morgan raids. He shows how the buccaneers were systematically screwed over for the last three decades of the 1600s. Just like the indigenous peoples before them and the black slaves after them. All were victims of European greed and the adoption of an out-of-sight-out-of-mind policy toward moral atrocities and excesses committed in the New World.
The Buccaneers In The West Indies In The XVII Century – C.H. Haring – originally published in 1902. Haring was a historian and his works concentrate on the Spanish colonization of the New World. His source materials are English and Spanish records from museums, English, Spanish, and French historical tomes, and of course Exquemelin, who he says, “though he sadly confuses his dates, seems to be a perfectly honest witness, and his accounts of such transactions as fell within his own experience are closely corroborated by the official narratives.” Haring names ships and captains with alacrity. He quotes Modyford and Morgan. He has exhaustive information on the sequence of events leading up to Morgan’s raids, which were the end of an era. He explains how screwed up Spanish colonial policy was. He explains why the English had a good claim to Tortuga. He even has footnotes in his sources and bibliography…
And I absolutely love that he does not translate any of the French he uses, because damn it, if you’re reading a scholarly text like his, of course you speak French.
Port Royal Jamaica – Michael Pawson & David Buisseret – The University of The West Indies Press, 1974. This is by far the best book I found on Port Royal. Not only does it contain an excellent history of the city, it contains maps, plot listings, census information, and anything else that could be gleaned from the commercial and military records. For example, it has first hand accounts from a variety of people, quotes from a number of citizens, a list of the various people employed in occupations, a list of the privateer ships registered in Port Royal, including who their captains were and how big they were. This is the book that gave me street names, what was built up first, the fact that the Three Tunns existed and exactly where it was on Thames, what a typical house looked like, who the gunsmiths were, etc…
The following are other books I acquired while digging my way through the morass of information until I found the four books listed above. When I started this project, I knew the guys were going to be pirates, I did not know they would be buccaneers. I did not know what a buccaneer was. So I acquired a number of books on pirates in general, including several I am not even listing because they are not useful for this book or the time period it is set in.
Terror of the Spanish Main: Sir Henry Morgan and his Buccaneers – Albert Marrin, Dutton Children’s Books, 1999. I got this one at the library during my initial foray. It is technically a young adult book, but my library had it filed with the adult stuff. Though, or perhaps because, it is written for a younger person, Marrin’s book contains a great deal of useful information on day to day living and buccaneer techniques. He pulls material from Exquemelin, Haring, and several other sources I later found useful. This is where I first encountered the term matelot. Because of his intended audience, Marrin does not refer to the buccaneers as engaging in homosexual behavior, but he does make great reference to the importance of matelotage. That was what set my little brain to working and first got me interested in the buccaneer period in particular. Anybody who reads and loves RBW can thank Marrin.
Pirate Port: The Story of the Sunken City of Port Royal – Robert F. Marx, World Publishing Company, 1967. Marx was an Underwater Archeologist for the Government of Jamaica. This book mainly contains a paraphrased rehashing of Exquemelin so that you understand why Port Royal was important, and exhaustive information on what was recovered while diving over the sunken remains.
Buccaneer Harbor: The Fabulous History of Port Royal, Jamaica– Peter Briggs – Simon& Schuster, 1970. This book has some useful info in it from other sources about the history of Jamaica itself, and some good detail on the development of Port Royal from a non-buccaneer perspective.
Sodomy and the Perception of Evil: English Sea Rovers in the Seventeenth-Century Caribbean – B.R. Burg – New York University Press, 1983. This title is a little strange in that it was also published as Sodomy and the Pirate Tradition: English Sea Rovers….etc., within a year of this publication date by the same publisher, but in paperback. The second title is the more common one; it is not the title on my hard back copy though. I think the publisher decided the other title might sell better.
Burg, a director/professor at Arizona State University when his book was published, has another book on historical homosexuality, Gay Warriors: A Documentary History from the Ancient World to the Present. I have not read it yet.
Everybody who has written anything on this subject since Burg refers to this book and then tries to tear it apart. Burg’s supposition is that homosexuality was accepted in European society and quite common amongst men who did not have readily available women, either by their location, such as being at sea, or their economic situation, as in they could not afford a wife. Even people who agree with him, such as I do, find this book less than compelling in proving its point. It did set me thinking about a number of things, and references he makes or situations he references show up in RBW.
For example, the perception of sodomy as being evil and a huge sin, separate from simply being carnal acts outside of wedlock or debauchery in general, does seem to originate with the puritans. They were only beginning to get a foothold in world religious consciousness in the late 1600s. The utter disapproval of sodomy that we have in the United States is primarily a puritan/protestant legacy.
Under The Black Flag: The Romance and the Reality of Life Among the Pirates – David Cordingly – Random House, 1995. This book contains a lot of useful info and perspective, but not necessarily concerning buccaneers. I think more of this book will come into play if I choose to write some sort of sequel set during the “Golden Age” of piracy. This guy picks on Burg, and then says some really stupid stuff of his own on the subject of pirate homosexuality. People like Cordingly, confuse homosexual choice, as in men who are sexually attracted to men, with homosexual acts, which can be enjoyed by men who are not necessarily attracted to men if given a choice. His inability to step beyond a current world view on this aspect of pirate life makes me question some of his other stuff.
The History of Pirates – Angus Konstam – The Lyons Press, 1999. Big picture book with short sections dealing with piracy from ancient times to present. Lots of useful info.
Rum Sodomy & The Lash: Piracy, Sexuality, & Masculine Identity – Hans Turley – New York University Press, 1999. Heavy sigh. This is more a thesis than a readable book. I made it half way through before moving on to more useful works from my perspective. I am not sure what Turley is trying to say. He seems to be saying that pirates were further vilified by being called homosexuals because they were outlaws, and that they weren’t really. I am not sure. He’s looking at pirate identity from a societal perspective.
I will say he should go to the Just Detention site, and read up a little. So should Burg for that matter. One of the founders of Stop Prisoner Rape - the prior name of the organization - wrote that no study conducted by middle class white sociology students is going to deliver anything meaningful about what really goes on sexually in jails and prisons. Yet people like Burg and Turley keep talking as if some report they read from some middle class grad student says it all.
Historic Jamaica From The Air – David Buisseret – Caribbean University Press, 1969. Useful book from one of the guys who wrote the really useful Port Royal book.