Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Military Through the Ages

Groups representing pirates/privateers were well represented at Jamestown's annual Military Through the Ages. The SEA Rats Atlantic, the Crew of the Archangel, and the York Privateers were all present and each won a ribbon in some category.

I have to admit, I wasn't among any of the groups. I was volunteering with the James Fort Militia. That did mean that I got to crew the largest piece of artillery on the field - Jamestown's saker which was fired this weekend for the first time in 11 years. It is a monster with a ten foot barrel. It was also the loudest piece, even after the Civil War group doubled the charge in their piece to try to match us.

Even though I was not there as a pirate, I could have been one of the Elizabethan Sea Dogs. They were at their peak in the 1580s and 1590s. When Elizabeth died in 1602, James established peace with Spain and forbid further attacks on Spanish shipping. The investors who had been financing the Sea Dogs looked for someplace else to put their money. Some of them invested in colonization in the hope that English colonies could provide the sort of profits that Spain was getting. Unfortunately for them, Virginia failed to make any profit until John Rolf bred a variety of tobacco that would grow in Virginia but tasted like the Spanish variety. By that point, the Virginia Company had failed and the King had seized the charter.

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