pirate nests and the rise of the british empire

Global changes followed the discovery of the New World. Maritime civilization started to gain the upper hand of the competition with land civilization. With battleships and cannons, many small countries became world empires, representatively Spain, Portugal, Holland, England and France.

From small coastal states to world powers, the rising of these countries was closely related to evolving marine technologies and an adventurous spirit of exploring. However, the English took an unusual path, namely piracy.

The relation between England and the pirates can be dated back to the Viking Age. During this time, the invasion of Vikings led to the Heptarchy. But owing to Alfred the Great, the Nordic invaders were eventually withstood.

A country founded by the descendants of pirates

After all, the invasion by Vikings was unavoidable for England. In the year of 1066, the Normans invaded and conquered England. Their leader, William the Conqueror, was not just the Duke of Normandy, but also a descendant of Viking. Normandy was the fief granted by the king of France when he gave in to the Vikings after a long siege of Paris. Although the Normans later converted to Christianity and became French-speakers, but theoretically they are Frenchified Vikings.

Vikings

The pirates defeated the Spanish Armada

Before the rising of England, Spain was the most powerful country in the world while the famous Spanish Armada was invincible on this planet. As an island country, England was also eager to explore the vast ocean, but during that time, they were always under the shadow of Spanish sea power. Therefore, Elizabeth I, the ruler of England at that time, aligned with the pirates, even granted them “licenses” of their dirty work.

In return, the pirates robbed Spanish merchant ships and handed in a proportion of what they got. Among these robbers dubbed “Royal pirates”, a privateer named Francis Drake did a great service for England during the Anglo–Spanish War, and even helped English navy to defeat the mighty Spanish Armada. Since then, England has been on its way to a global superpower.