Nine Years War

1688-1697: The Nine Years' War began in Europe but many battles were fought in the Caribbean

Although the West Indies had seen relatively little fighting for a decade, European power struggles continued. When Louis XIV declared war against Holland in 1688, the other nations were quick to take sides.

France and Holland were at war, but soon Spain and other nations banded together against France. However, England faced trouble at home as well as abroad. The country's king, James II, was deposed by William III. The following year, William III joined the war against France.

On the Caribbean Front

The war in the Caribbean began with decisive victories by France. Troops took the British half of the island of St. Kitts, and they also devastated St. Eustatius. Buccaneers and privateers for the French on Hispaniola and for the British on Tortola often found themselves involved in the fight.

The French victories on the British islands were aided by the Irish Catholics, who were upset by William III's removal of James II, but Governor Christopher Codrington soothed the Irish before a rebellion could break out. British victories came the following year, 1690, when Governor Codrington retook St. Kitts and Anguilla, even sending the French from St. Kitts to Hispaniola.

In 1691 and 1693, Codrington attempted two other history-making offensive measures in the war, first invading Guadeloupe and later Martinique. The invasion of Guadeloupe was halted when his naval support backed out suddenly, even though they had been in a winning position. Similarly, his Martinique campaign was cut short by devastating disease at St. Pierre.

Pirate and Leader

On Hispaniola, the French and Spanish fought each another. St. Iago on the Spanish side was burned by the French in 1690. The following year the Spanish retaliated by burning Cap-Français. The French governor was killed in the battle at Cap-Français, and pirate Jean Du Casse came to lead the French. In 1692, an earthquake had devastated the southern coast of Jamaica, and two years later Du Casse took advantage of the turmoil the event had caused, leading a fleet along Jamaica's coast and ransacking what was left.

The British and Spanish fought together against the French, making plans to push the French out of Hispaniola. Their campaign in 1695 did not succeed. However, Du Casse's plans to attack Spanish forces on Hispaniola were put to a stop by the French government.

The French sent Du Casse to attack Spanish forces at Cartagena, Colombia. This sacking has been likened to Morgan's sack of Panama City and is said to be the last great joint venture for military troops and buccaneers.

The war came to an end in 1697, nine years after it began. The Treaty of Ryswick acknowledged French rights to their portion of Hispaniola.

The Nine Years' War in the Caribbean was one of many conflicts that disrupted the lives of the people on the islands throughout colonial history. The peace that followed this war gave planters time to encourage crop growth and prosperity, but a poor decision by a European monarch would end this period.


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