Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Pirate Haunt of the Day: Tortuga

Tortuga, featured as an anarchistic pirate haven in Pirates of the Caribbean is a mountainous, rocky island off Haiti's northwestern coast. Christopher Columbus encountered the island in 1493, and it was his crew that gave it the name Tortuga: its shape reminded them of a turtle. Some Spanish settlers eventually inhabited the island, and in the 1600's the Spanish fought over it with the English and the French. The Spanish ultimately abandoned it as unimportant, leaving it to the English and the French who set up neighboring colonies to grow tobacco and such.

The island was never well controlled by the colonial government, and it became a haven for Buccaneers who began calling themselves Brethren of the Coast. Henry Morgan-- who the rum is named after-- was a Brethren, and codified the previously loose association. In 1645, the French governor attempted to gain control of the island by bribing the pirates with over a thousand prostitutes. But pirates are an uncontrollable lot, and Tortuga remained under Brethren control for most of the 17th century.

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