Although treaties in the 1660s and 1670s had established peace in the Caribbean, the accord was short-lived. A third Anglo-Dutch war was on the horizon as both the British and French hoped to finally depose the Dutch trade monopoly. Piracy continued to play an important role in Caribbean history.
Tensions between England, France, and the Netherlands come to a boiling point in 1672, and even though Britain leaves the fighting this same year, the battle wages on between the Dutch and the French. This war was fought more often on land and sea in Europe, but the two sides worked hard to capture Caribbean islands from each other.
The earliest battles took place when Britain and France united to take forts on St. Maarten, St. Eustatius, Saba, Tortola, and Virgin Gorda. However, though the French attacked Curaçao in 1673 and again in 1678, neither attempt was successful at taking the island from Dutch control.
In this war, privateers again had their uses. Taking forts on islands was certainly an important aspect of the fighting, and in 1676 the Dutch temporarily recaptured territories on Tobago and St. Maarten. However, they failed to make headway on Hispaniola.
In 1678 the war ended, and the terms of the Treaty of Nijmegen divided up the islands.
Netherlands took St. Maarten, St. Eustatius, and Saba.
France took Tobago.
Britain took Tortola and Virgin Gorda.
As occasional privateers, the region's pirates kept their own trade going between wars. However, some were less pleased by the results of peacetime piracy. Pirates' role in history continued to be an important one.
By 1682, Jamaica's governor was given an order to clear the island of pirates, and he began pushing them from Port Royal. Anti-piracy laws were starting to be enforced under Governor Lynch's watch.
However, piracy was still profitable, and pirates themselves were hard to tame. The following year, a French fleet took a Spanish treasure port. Vera Cruz in Mexico fell to pirates.
The Spanish, fed up with the pirates' attacks on their ships and ports also led a strike. Spanish ships attacked the established buccaneers' safe harbor on Providence (Nassau) in The Bahamas. In 1684, the island is cleared of pirates, though not for the last time, as they would return just two years later.
The period of relative peace that followed the Third Dutch War was longer than the peace that came before, but it still would not last long. Each individual island continued to fight its own battles.
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