Until the recent attack on a cruise ship off the coast of Somalia, pirates terrorizing the high seas have been mostly the stuff of legend and Hollywood fantasy. But piracy, particularly in the Caribbean, was at one time a very real and dangerous problem. Men with names such as Blackbeard, Calico Jack, and Black Bart pillaged and plundered ships and seaport towns, offering violent retribution to those who resisted and seizing fortunes at will. Viewers get to know the real characters, fight the battles they fought, watch nations rise up to stop them, and separate fact from fiction in TRUE CARIBBEAN PIRATES on The History Channel.
After Christopher Columbus landed in the West Indies in 1492, Spain and its powerful navy established a dominating presence in the region. Vast riches in gold and silver were mined in the New World-wealth that soon drew the attention of England, France, and Holland. The Caribbean would become a free-for-all as these competing nations advocated "privateering," basically the use of freelancing private sailors to fight battles, disrupt trade, and harass the Spanish-all in an effort to establish a presence in the Caribbean without having to pay for a real navy there.
The temptation of Spanish treasure stretched the thin line between privateer and pirate to a breaking point. One of the most famous privateers to cross into piracy is Sir Henry Morgan. Tapped by the British Governor of Jamaica to command more than 1,500 buccaneers, he responded by becoming one of the first true great pirates, leading daring attacks and conquests of Spanish colonies at Portobello and Panama and gaining a reputation for brutal acts such as hanging men by their genitals to get them to give up their possessions.
The cycle of privateers and quasi-legal pirates continued for decades, until an extraordinary event changed everything in the Caribbean . Peace. Suddenly, tens of thousands of privateers and sailors were out of a job, and thus began the age of the outlaw pirates. TRUE CARIBBEAN PIRATES follows the lineage of maritime crime from Morgan to Calico Jack, and even on to female pirates such as Anne Bonny and Mary Read, who were far more sensational, and every bit as dangerous, as their male counterparts.