Book Review – ‘Pirate Nation: Elizabeth I and her royal sea rovers’ by Kathrin Zickermann

By Kathrin Zickermann, published October 2020

Abstract

In his book Pirate Nation, David Childs takes a close look at the involvement of Queen Elizabeth, her Privy Council, the High Court of Admiralty and local magistrates in English piratical activities. According to Childs, the English monarch saw acts of state-sponsored piracy – mainly directed against Spain and Portugal – as one of few options to supplement her depleted war chest and state coffers. Condoning piratical ventures conducted by the likes of Francis Drake or John Hawkins through the use of Royal Commissions or letters of reprisal, Elizabeth and her authorities allowed these men to form a ‘piratocracy’, which enabled them to become respected members of society and well-received guests at court. The involvement of the monarch helped to create a new type of piracy focused on ocean- going ventures and conducted by ‘grander’ pirates which existed alongside domestic piracy committed by ‘ordinary’ mariners. Ironically some of those ‘grander’ pirates and those who supported them maintained positions in local and central authorities, and sat in judgement of those involved in common piracy …

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Filed under: Atlantic | Tudors | English Channel | Pirates
Subjects include: Biography | Pirates, Corsairs & Privateers

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