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6 real pirates of the Caribbean

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Jean-David Nau, aka François l’Olonnais
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Jean-David Nau, aka François l’Olonnais

Nau is widely considered one of the most ruthless and barbaric pirates ever to set sail in the Caribbean. Nau arrived in Martinique from France as an indentured servant child. Following his period of servitude, Nau relocated to Hispaniola where he joined the Buccaneers. Having won favor with the French Governor of Tortuga, Nau was given command of his own ship. Sanctioned by the French government to attack Spanish enemies, he would develop an insatiable blood-thirst and penchant for torture (particularly against the Spanish), which prolonged his reign of terror well into times of peace between France and Spain.

As word of Nau’s unspeakable cruelty spread, his successes became fewer. Spanish ships would fight to the death rather than surrender to the merciless Nau. Partnering with freebooter Michel de Basco, Nau was able to amass a fleet of eight ships and 400 men and managed to seize the towns of Gibraltar and Maracaibo in the Gulf of Venezuela, where the townspeople endured unimaginable atrocities. The invading pirates garnered more than 260,000 pieces of eight (aka Spanish dollar), as well as other booty, but these spoils soon vanished into the pockets of Tortuga’s tavern keepers and prostitutes.

Desperate for treasure, Nau continued his assaults on Spanish ships and the colonies. With faltering success, his hatred of the Spanish intensified. Fearful of their psychotic captain, Nau’s crew mutinied and left him with a single craft that ran aground off Las Petras Islands. While trying to recruit a new crew, Nau was attacked and captured by local natives. It is said that the Indians tore Nau apart, throwing pieces of his body in a fire and scattering the ashes so no trace of the horrible pirate would remain.

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