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By D. H. Figueredo, Frank Argote-Freyre

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Photo by D. H. Figueredo) The typical fortification consisted of a massive fort on the top of a hill to protect the entry into the harbor, with protective walls surrounding the city. By the mid-17th century, the major cities and ports formed a sort of fortified chain. Smaller towns, however, were left unprotected and were often raided by the pirates. Though antisocial and amoral, some pirates practiced the earliest form of democracy in the Caribbean. They chose their captain by vote and decided upon the objective of a particular mission.

Enter the Pirates Another consequence of the wealth of the Caribbean and Spain’s monopoly on the region was an upsurge in piracy, as roving sea robbers sought to help themselves to some of the wealth being shipped from the Americas to Spain. ” From this era emerged the romantic notions of pirates seen in the novels of Rafael Sabatini (1875–1950), Emilio Salgari (1862–1911), and Robert Louis Stevenson (1850–94) and later depicted in the films of Errol Flynn (1909–59) and, more recently, Johnny Depp (1963– ).

In 1479, Columbus married a woman of noble descent with connections to the Portuguese royal court. In 1484, he obtained an audience with King John II, but the king declined to offer Columbus his patronage; he was more interested in reaching India by circumnavigating Africa than in exploring other routes. The royal documents of that period called the sailor by the name Christovao Colom, a Portuguese translation of the Italian original. When Columbus was widowed in 1485, he and his son Diego moved to Spain.

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