Spanish Succesion

1701 - 1720: The War of the Spanish Succession kept France and Spain apart and ended piracy

Spain's King Charles II is not a well-loved monarch, but many believe the worst thing he did during his reign was to choose a successor. When Charles passed his crown to Philip V, a grandson of Louis XIV, he united the ruling houses of France and Spain.

While the ascension of Philip V would unite these two countries, it also united England, the Netherlands, and Austria against them. However, for the French and British this was simply a continuation of the wars they had been fighting for decades. The war was intended to put a stop to any trade negotiations, particularly because the British were angling for the right to trade slaves with Spain.

Supporting a War

Although the war began in 1702, both Britain and France had already sent troops to the Caribbean in 1701. However, like European troops before them, many grew ill and died quickly from tropical diseases. Privateers and local troops would play a large role in the fighting.

The French fleet, led by the Count de Château-Renault, was stationed on Hispaniola, but Jamaica's long history of trouble with Du Casse made British Vice-Admiral John Benbow anxious to fight the ex-pirate. Therefore, when Château-Renault removed his troops from the region, Benbow rushed to fight and capture Du Casse off the coast of Colombia.

Though Benbow did not capture Du Casse, he himself was injured, and his determination is well remembered on Jamaica. He continued to fight despite a leg shattered by chain shot, and later died from his wounds on Jamaica.

Failed Leadership

The British island of Antigua had its own problems during the war. Although the plantation owners should have led forces to war on Nevis, they surrendered, and wound up suffering under the leadership of the new governor, Colonel Daniel Parke.

Parke had quickly earned the hatred of the planters, and he was even shot at in 1708 and 1709, and was injured in the arm. In 1710, Parke was forced by rebellious planters to leave for Nevis, but he was murdered instead.

The following governor could not punish anyone. Although the crown had begun an investigation, no one would testify. They could not punish the entire colony for this revolt.

Changing Hands

As with all of the Caribbean wars, islands often changed hands, disrupting the lives of their inhabitants. However, the fighting was particularly vicious during this war.

Year Island Occurrence
1702 St. Kitts Christopher Codrington Jr. drove the French out.
1703 Guadeloupe Codrington spent two months ruining crops but was unable to take the island.
1703-1704 New Providence (Bahamas) French and Spanish forces attacked the settlements.
1706 St. Kitts, Nevis, Barbados, Jamaica French pirate Pierre Le Moyne (sieur d'Iberville) sought revenge on St. Kitts, destroying anything outside the British protection. He claimed the surrender on Nevis and was under orders to seize Barbados and Jamaica.
1712 Antigua, Montserrat French privateers threatened Antigua and took Montserrat.

The end of the war was marked by the Peace of Utrecht, a series of treaties. Although the first of which was signed in 1713, the war did not officially end until 1714. Britain was given control of the island of St. Kitts.

An End to Piracy

During the war, New Providence in The Bahamas was nearly cleared of true settlers. Only 200 families were reported to be living in The Bahamas by 1714, and most of the residents were no longer living at settlements but had taken refuge in the woods or fled to smaller islands.

After the Treaties of Utrecht began ending the War of the Spanish Succession in 1713, former privateers came to settle the island. Pirates then continued their trade for no reason but to gain easy money. However, Britain appointed Captain Woodes Rogers as the first royal governor of The Bahamas in 1718.

Rogers had been a privateer and was famous for his skill during the war. However, he was skilled as a political leader as well, offering pirates a pardon if they turned themselves in and a bounty to anyone who brought in pirates who refused to give up their trade.

Jamaica enacted similar laws in 1717, and pirates would bring in other pirates to be hanged in Nassau. However, some would accept a pardon and return to their trade. The buccaneers who remained on the high seas in 1720 had, for the most part, relocated to safer waters in the South Seas.

The heyday of the Caribbean's pirates had come to an end, and Europe had blocked France and Spain from uniting. England had even claimed its right to trade slaves with Spain, but, as with previous wars, this was not the end of the fighting.

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