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Science And Nature

The way the ‘wickedest city on the planet” was sunk by an earthquake

Published July 28, 2022

15 min read

The 19th-century author Howard Pyle is in charge of a great number of beliefs about 17th-century pirates, from their flamboyant costumes with their buried treasures. Published after his death, the 1921 Howard Pyles Book of Pirates contains vivid illustrations alongside rollicking stories of life on the high seas. Historians have dismissed a lot of it as romanticized exaggeration, but his depiction of Port Royal still rings true:

[T]he town of Port Royal … in the entire year 1665 … came all of the pirates and buccaneers … and men shouted and swore and gambled, and poured out money like water, and maybe finished up their merrymaking by dying of fever. … Everywhere you may behold a variety of painted women … and pirates, gaudy with red scarfs and gold braid and a variety of assorted items of foolish finery, all fighting and gambling and bartering for that ill-gotten treasure of the be-robbed Spaniard.

The English captured Jamaica from the Spanish in 1655. They noticed the ports strategic potential at the entrance to Kingston Harbour and go about strengthening its defenses. Bristling with fortifications, the harbor was expanded to support ships. Traders flocked to the protected haven. But additionally to legitimate trade, the ports prosperity also produced from less salubrious endeavors: piracy.

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