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The Pirates on the Big Island

    Pirates were present on Ilha Grande and had a historical role of international prominence, recording episodes of piracy, slave trade and smuggling of goods between the 16th century and XIX.

With the discovery of gold and silver in Peru, at the end of the 16th century, the Plata basin became a place of embarkation for the Spaniards. Europe, the Prata basin, the islands off the southern coast of Brazil, were better options for water and timber supplies. The islands of Santa Catarina (Florianópolis), São Sebastião (Ilhabela) and Rio de Janeiro (Ilha Grande) were strategic points for these travelers.

    During this period Portugal lost the battles and the “Invincible Armada” ended, so the Lusitanian fleet from Spain dominated the territory._cc781905-5cde-3194-bb3b -136bad5cf58d_

With the Portuguese defrauded, pirates from various places came to the coast to smuggle gold, silver, and wood, Spanish vessels suffered greatly from looting by pirates. Ilha Grande was a place much sought after by pirates, there is plenty of water to supply their vessels, in addition to that on the Island there are perfect hiding places, and the Portuguese hardly ever stopped there to disturb the pirates.

    Caxadaço was a beach used by pirates because it has a rocky slope where those who pass sailing cannot see the beach or the boats that are there. Vessels leaving Paraty that passed through there towards Europe were looted by pirates. The place was used by pirates for a long time even after the abolition of slavery, where they would take hidden slaves for illegal trafficking.

Stories tell that the most frequent pirates in the region were the English, Dutch, French and Argentines.

english pirates

    In mid-December 1591, Ilha Grande was attacked by the English Corsair Thomas Cavendish, who looted the local population and set fire to their homes,_cc781905-5cde -3194-bb3b-136bad5cf58d_ leaving in sequence for Ilhabela making another attack in Vila de Santos. Between 1585 and 1605, there were numerous attacks in the region, between Cabo Frio and Santa Catarina. The Pirates' Preferred Islands were Marambaia, Ilha dos Porcos, Ilha Grande, Ilhabela and Florianópolis, where the passage of Spanish ships was more common  going to and from Silver with many riches. The attacks were so many that Felipe II of Spain maintained a coast guard in the region, naming Martim de Sá.

    The pirate Juan Lorenzo, a protege of King Felipe II, built a house on the beach that he named Praia do Morcego. The house is considered the third masonry construction in Brazil. Where legend says that he has his treasure buried on the island in front of the beach.

    The pirate Thomas Cavendish, spent the last years of his short life in Brazil, dying at the age of 31. The pirate was well known for his constant activities in the attacks, having participated in the attack on Virginia in the United States, and after these attacks he decided to venture into the South Atlantic, where he acted for the rest of his life. The English even attacked Vitória, in Espirito Santo, Ilha Grande, in Rio de Janeiro, Ilhabela, in São Paulo. In Santa Catarina, he burned mills and made many slaves in the region.

 Dutch Pirates

    The Dutch were also present on Ilha Grande in the early 17th century.

    The Dutch left genetic inheritances on the island, which can be seen in the traits of some natives, who have Indian traits and blue eyes, but with the Dutch acting more in the north of the country, attacks in the Ilha Grande region have become rare.

french pirates

    After the Dutch stopped working on Ilha Grande, they came around the 18th century around 17 years between (1701 and 1718)._cc781905-5cde- 3194-bb3b-136bad5cf58d_

    The French had Ilha Grande as a great shelter, as they could intercept ships leaving Paraty, which was one of the main ports for the shipment of gold that came of Minas Gerais; Also for having a great abundance of wood and water, being able to resupply its boats.      _cc74c-de-bb313 -136bad5cf58d_       Several were the records of French ships bringing cargo of goods of French origin, mainly on Ilha Grande, more precisely in the cove of Palmas, Abraão and Sítio Forte.

    After international policy treaties, even with the extinction of French piracy, the French continued to sail along the coast legally, transporting French colonies destined for the French islands in the extreme southern Latin America.

    In this way, they continued to dock in Ilha Grande, because to supply their vessels they did not pay fees as they should if they dock in Rio de Janeiro.

Argentine pirates

    In 1827 three attacks by Argentine privateers took place on Ilha Grande, authorized by the local government. One against the Dois Rios farm, another at Ponta do Castelhano and another at Palmas cove

    In the last attack, the Argentines lost a ship that was shot down by the Brazilian force.


    Pirate from the Greek peiratés, literally “one who attacks”, from peiran, “to attack, to harass”.

    Corsario comes from the Italian corsáro, from the Latin cursorius, from cursus, “race, course”, from currere, “to run”. A privateer is a pirate who had a Charter of Corso, a government license to attack enemy vessels, and was a cheap way to expand a country's offensive fleet. The corsairs were allowed to attack enemy vessels from that country during the period of wars, they had authorization to loot them, paying up to 1/5 of the loot to the Crown, and they could take refuge in the colonies of the kingdom that granted the Charter._cc781905-5cde- 3194-bb3b-136bad5cf58d_       At the end of the war, mere pirates were back.

Buccaneer is the pirate of the Caribbean. The root of the word buccaneer is in the French “boucanier” - the boucan is a grill used to make smoked meat by the Arawak Indians in the Caribbean.


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