The Real Pirates of the Caribbean

Montbars the Exterminator. Metropolitan Museum of Art

39. The Exterminator’s Turn to Piracy

After his uncle’s death, Montbars left the French Navy and headed to the pirate haven of Tortuga, an Island off the Haitian coast. Between his professional expertise as a naval officer, and his seething hatred of Spain, the buccaneers’ main foe, he was welcomed with the open arms. Before long, he was captaining his own buccaneer ship.

He made a name for himself in an early action against a Spanish vessel: “Montbars led the way to the decks of the enemy, where he carried injury and death; and when submission terminated the contest, his only pleasure seemed to be to contemplate, not the treasures of the vessel, but the number of dead and dying Spaniards, against whom he had vowed a deep and eternal hatred, which he maintained the whole of his life”.