The Life and Times of Mundaca the Pirate

The Jolly Roger

The "Jolly Roger" was a pirate flag flown by  "Black Sam" Bellamy, Edward England, and John Taylor. Other pirates used a plain black flag. The object of such flags was to encourage the pirates' victims to surrender without a fight.
The "Jolly Roger" was a pirate flag flown by "Black Sam" Bellamy, Edward England, and John Taylor. Other pirates used a plain black flag. The object of such flags was to encourage the pirates' victims to surrender without a fight. | Source

Piracy

In an honest Service, there is thin Commons, low Wages, and hard Labour; in this, Plenty and Satiety, Pleasure and Ease, Liberty and Power; and who would not balance Creditor on this Side, when all the Hazard that is run for it, at worst, is only a sower Look or two at choaking. No, a merry Life and a short one shall be my Motto.”

—Pirate Captain Bartholomew Roberts

Piracy in the New World began soon after Spanish ships, laden down with silver and gold, began crossing the Atlantic. Pirates were often ex-sailors, who could not refrain from making a quick fortune by seizing loot on the open seas. These buccaneers needed a fast ship, a dependable crew and perhaps most important, a safe harbor from which to operate.

Pirates were successful, as long as they had friendly ports-of-call, where they could retreat when not out on the high seas. These places existed all across the Caribbean and in a few cherished American locales, such as the Outer Banks of North Carolina and the bayous of southern Louisiana. As a result, New World piracy began in the 1500s and lasted well into the 1800s, The end of piracy in the Western Hemisphere coincided with the rise of newly-independent New World nations, which were able to outfit their own navies and drive the pirates from their protected lairs.

A Classic Pirate Battle

One of the classic pirate battles of all times occurred in 1718, when Lieutenant Maynard of Virginia sailed southward and attacked Blackbeard the pirate in Ocracoke Bay, which is located in the Outer banks of North Carolina.
One of the classic pirate battles of all times occurred in 1718, when Lieutenant Maynard of Virginia sailed southward and attacked Blackbeard the pirate in Ocracoke Bay, which is located in the Outer banks of North Carolina. | Source

Bartholomew Roberts

Bartholomew Roberts (1682-1722) was the pirate with most captures during the Golden Age of Piracy. He is known for hanging the governor of Martinique from the yardarm of his ship.
Bartholomew Roberts (1682-1722) was the pirate with most captures during the Golden Age of Piracy. He is known for hanging the governor of Martinique from the yardarm of his ship. | Source

The Golden Age of Piracy

At first glance these two terms, 'Golden Age' and 'Piracy' might seem to be mutually exclusive. But if you stop and ponder the idea for a bit, most likely you will relate to the idea that the activities of pirates probably had their heyday and times of plenty, just like any other successful enterprise. It should also be noted that the Golden Age of Piracy is a term used by historians, as they looked back to the colorful exploits of the many pirates who frequented the stormy waters of the New World.

In general, the 'Golden Age of Piracy' lasted from 1650 until 1730. During these times, such colorful figures as Blackbeard the Pirate (Edward Teach), Henry Morgan, William "Captain" Kidd, "Black Sam" Bellamy, Calico Jack Rackham, Bartholomew Roberts and William Fly plied their trade all across the Caribbean and Atlantic. Except for Henry Morgan, who became deputy governor of Jamaica, most pirates died a violent death.


The Lady Outlaws of the High Seas

A 1971 Jamaican postage stamp honoring Anne Bonny and Mary Read
A 1971 Jamaican postage stamp honoring Anne Bonny and Mary Read

The Lady Was a Pirate Captain

Not all the pirates of the Golden Age were men, for the ranks of these notorious sea captains included two women, Anne Bonny and Mary Read. Born respectively in Ireland and England, these two ladies were known for their ferocity and undaunted courage on the high seas. Although the two ladies began their careers independent of each other, their demise occurred when the two women were captured defending the same ship off the coast of Jamaica in October 1720.

It is reported that the two women put up a gallant fight against the surprise attack from a British naval warship, the Albion, while their entire entourage of male companions remained below deck, too drunk to put up even the smallest resistance. As a result the whole crew was caught and placed in a Jamaican prison. Most of the men were hanged, but little is known as to what became of the women. Supposedly, their scheduled executions never took place, leaving modern-day historians to ponder whether their freedom was purchased or perhaps obtained in some other clandestine manner.


Bird's Eye View of Isla Mujeres

Isla Mujeres as seen from the air
Isla Mujeres as seen from the air | Source

Isla Mujeres

Today, Isla Mujeres, located in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, is an old fishing village that also suffices as a popular tourist destination. The first European to visit the island was Francisco Hernandez de Cordova. He arrived here in 1517 and found the island covered with statues of the Mayan goddess Ixmel. There was even a temple at the south end of the island to honor the important Native deity.

After Cordova captured and transported the local population to Cuba, the island was mostly uninhabited accept for an occasional visit by a roaming pirate. According to local history, Henry Morgan and Jean Lafitte took refuge on the island. Early in the 19th century the island was re-inhabited by those fleeing the Mexican Revolution. These refugees created a small fishing village on the small isle. Economically, they were getting, when Mundaca the Pirate arrived with his newfound wealth, freshly created from his slave-trading enterprise.

Mundaca's Skull and Crossbones

Mundaca built his own tomb, while he was still alive. It was even decorated with a cross and skullbones as depicted here.
Mundaca built his own tomb, while he was still alive. It was even decorated with a cross and skullbones as depicted here.

Mundaca the Pirate

Fermin Anonio Mundaca y Marecheaga was born, on October 11th, 1825, in Santa Maria, Spain. Better known as Mundaca the Pirate, the young Spaniard came to the New World after completing his studies. In Spain, Mundaca would have been considered a true gentlemen, but this status would be put to the test, when the young man arrived in Mexico. Eventually, Mundaca acquired a boat and developed a prosperous business bringing slaves from Africa to the New World and also transporting human cargo from the jungles of southern Mexico to Cuba.

The Mayan Temple of Isla Mujeres

The Isla Mayan temple much as it looked during Mundaca's days on Isla Mujeres
The Isla Mayan temple much as it looked during Mundaca's days on Isla Mujeres

Mundaca and the local Native population

Not only did Mundaca the Pirate, sell Mayan men and women to Cuban plantation owners for a tidy profit, but he also owned his own slaves, which he put to work on Isla Mujeres to help him create his own lavish living quarters. Reportedly, he ordered his own workmen to take down many of the old temples and stone structures that already existed on the island. And then, once the stuctures had been taken apart, the hand-hewn stones and blocks would be used to construct new buildings at Allegre Vista (Happy View), the island estate of Mundaca.

Mundaca's Empty Tomb

After Mundaca died in Merida, his body never made it to his island tomb that he so carefully constructed.
After Mundaca died in Merida, his body never made it to his island tomb that he so carefully constructed.

Mundaca's Broken Heart

Mundaca's downfall did not come from his sailing activities, but instead, it was the result of his falling madly in love with a local women that was 37 years his junior. Her name wasMartiniana Gomez Pantoja or La Triguena (The Brunette) and she was a dark-haired beauty of mostly Mayan stock. To impress the young lady Mundaca expanded his estate, even adding a beautiful garden and arched entranceway in her honor.

Unfortunately for the Spaniard, Prisca, as she was sometimes called, rejected Mundaca's love and married a local man close to her own age. Most accounts say that Mundaca moved to Merida, went mad and died in that city, even though he had constructed his own tomb on the island. On the side of his tomb he left these love torn words. Translated into English, they read as, "As you are, I was. As I am, you will be."

Comparative Wages for Pirates and Royal Sailors & Sea Captains

Rank
Bartholomew Roberts
George Lowther
William Phillips
Privateer (Sir William Monson)
Royal Navy (per month)
Captain
2 shares
2 shares
1.5 shares
10 shares
8 pounds & 8 shillings
Master
1.5 shares
1.5 shares
1.25 shares
7 or 8 shares
4 pounds
Boatswain
1.5 shares
1.25 shares
1.25 shares
5 shares
2 pounds
Gunner
1.5 shares
1.25 shares
1.25 shares
5 shares
2 pounds
Quartermaster
2 shares
 
 
4 shares
1 pound & 6 shillings
Carpenter
 
 
1.25 shares
5 shares
2 pounds
Mate
 
1.25 shares
 
5 shares
2 pounds & 2 shillings
Doctor
 
1,25 shares
 
5 shares
5 pound & 2 pennies per man
"Other Officers"
1.25 shares
 
 
various rates
various rates
Able Seamen
1 share
1 share
1 share
 
22 shillings

The Old Mayan Lookout

At the southern end of the island sits the old Mayan ruin, which may have served as a lookout or temple
At the southern end of the island sits the old Mayan ruin, which may have served as a lookout or temple

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