C. Pirates, Guns, and Empires

Fall Quarter, 2021

Thursdays, 10:00 – 11:30 a.m

C. Pirates, Guns, and Empires, Scott Sowerby, Associate Professor, History, Thursdays, 10:00 – 11:30 a.m.

Pirates have long captured our imaginations. From Long John Silver to Captain Jack Sparrow, stories of pirates have been the source material for novels, films, and tales of romance and adventure. But what were pirates really like? This course will consider the history of piracy in the Caribbean during the early modern period, beginning with the arrival of the Spanish and ending in the early eighteenth century. Along the way, we will examine maritime warfare, life on board ship, and the impact of European colonization on indigenous peoples.


Peter Earle, The Pirate Wars (New York: St Martin's Press, 2003).

--This book provides a good overview of the history of piracy in the Atlantic. The author has a very good command of the sources available in English, including manuscripts in British archives.



Kris Lane, Pillaging the Empire: Global Piracy on the High Seas, 1500–1750, 2nd edition (New York: Routledge, 2016).

--The author is a historian of the Spanish Empire and has a better command of the Spanish sources than Earle, but a weaker command of the English ones.



Alexander O. Exquemelin, The Buccaneers of America, translated by Alexis Brown (Mineola: Dover Publications, 2000).

--This is a modern English translation of Exquemelin's famous book, which was first published in Dutch in 1678. Exquemelin's book is the best first-hand account of the age of the buccaneers, written by a Frenchman who set sail with Captain Henry Morgan on his expeditions.


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Course Documents