Thursday, January 24, 2008

Death of a Pirate - History - Flores - Azores

During the 16th and 17th centuries, the Azores served as a base for the restocking and protection of the Spanish galleons filled with valuable treasure from Mexico and Peru and, for that reason, their waters were infested by pirates.

In 1591. a fleet of 16 English privateers, under the command of Sir Thomas Howard, cast anchor off the north coast of Flores to plunder the island, rest the crew and wait for the galleons to arrive. Warned in time of the presence of a Spanish defence squadron with a larger number of ships, the English fleet, except for the Revenge under the command of Sir Richard Grenville, was able to withdraw rapidly. Sir Richard delayed his flight, either waiting for his crew's return, or he thought that the approaching sails belonged to the galleons filled with treasures having been sighted, and choosing to fight instead of running away, the Revenge threw herself at the Spanish fleet and for hours resisted heroically the attacks of many enemy vessels until she was boarded and her last twenty defenders, among them Sir Richard Grenville, were taken prisioner by the flagship San Pablo. Sir Richard died 2 few days later.

This heroic deed the subject of a poem by Tennyson, is viewed by some historic artist as a demonstration of the "intolerable pride" and "insatiable ambition" of Sir Richard Grenville, which made him hated by men under his command and feared by his enemies.

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