21. The Around-The-World Piratical Expedition
In 1572, Francis Drake received a letter of marque from Queen Elizabeth, authorizing him to plunder any property of the Spanish crown. Armed with that authorization, the enterprising seaman raided Panama but was wounded and forced to retreat. After recovering, he raided Spanish settlements around the Caribbean, and returned to England in 1573 with a rich haul of gold and silver. Four years later, in 1577, he led an expedition of five ships to raid the Pacific coast of Spanish South America, which was wholly undefended in those days.
Braving storms, Drake passed through the Straits of Magellan in his flagship, the Golden Hind, then sailed up the coasts of Chile and Peru. Near Lima, he captured a Spanish ship that yielded 25,000 gold coins. Soon thereafter, he captured a fabulously rich prize, the Cacafuego, a Manila galleon that carried a treasure of 80 pounds of gold, 13 chests of coins, and 26 tons of silver. His holds full of loot, Drake crossed the Pacific, Indian Ocean, rounded the tip of Africa, and returned to England on September 26th, 1580, having circumnavigated the globe.