1st Edition

Cultural Representations of Piracy in England, Spain, and the Caribbean Travelers, Traders, and Traitors, 1570 to 1604

By Mariana-Cecilia Velázquez Copyright 2023
    248 Pages 20 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book examines the concept of piracy as an instrument for the advancement of legal, economic, and political agendas associated with early modern imperial conflicts in the Caribbean.

    Drawing on historical accounts, literary texts, legal treatises, and maps, the book traces the visual and narrative representations of Sir Francis Drake, who serves as a case study to understand the various usages of the terms "pirate" and "corsair." Through a comparative analysis, the book considers the connotations of the categories related to maritime predation—pirate, corsair, buccaneer, and filibuster—and nationalistic and religious denominations—Lutheran, Catholic, heretic, Spaniard, English, and Creole—to argue that the flexible usage of these terms corresponds to unequal colonial and imperial relations and ideological struggles.

    The book chronologically records the process by which piracy changed from an unregulated phenomenon to becoming legally defined after the Treaty of London (1604) and the Treaty of Westphalia (1648). The research demonstrates that as piracy grew less ambiguous through legal and linguistic standardization, the concept of piracy lost its polemical utility.

    This interdisciplinary volume is ideal for researchers working in piracy studies, early modern history, and imperial history.

    Introduction: Reading Piracy between the Lines  1. Navigating Conflicting Waters: Francis Drake's Circumnavigation (1577–1580)  2. Setting Sails to the Narrative of Piracy: Francis Drake's Caribbean Raid (1585–1586)  3. Dangerous Representations of the Caribbean in the Sixteenth Century  4. Dropping Anchor: Francis Drake's Three Deaths and the Beginnings of an End  5. The Changing Winds of Piracy (1570–1604)  6. The Aftermath: The Emergence of New Models of Piracy in the Caribbean: Buccaneers and Freebooters (Conclusion)


    Mariana Cecilia Velázquez received her PhD in Latin American and Iberian Cultures from Columbia University. She is a Professor in the Department of World Languages and Literatures at the University of Nevada-Reno. Her research focuses on the early modern transatlantic relations and colonial piracy in Spain, England, and the Caribbean.