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Captain Michel de Grammont

    Nicknamed Chevalier de Grammont, he was born in France about 1643. De Grammont was a nobleman who came into disfavour after killing his sister's suitor in a duel. Forced to leave France, he went to Hispaniola where he was given command of a French ship and served as a privateer. His new status as a captain paid off in the capture of a Dutch convoy, valued at about 400,000 livres. His next cruise was not so successful as his ship was driven onto a reef by a storm and wrecked. It is at this time that he decided that privateering was not to his taste and turned to piracy and moved his base of operations from Hispanola to the island of Tortuga. Here he bought and outfitted a new ship which he used to attack Spanish shipping. His reputation as a successful captain (from his prior capture of the convoy) assured him of a ready crew.

    When war broke out between France and the Dutch Republic in 1678, he joined a fleet under the command of Comte d'Estrees for an abortive raid on the Dutch island of CuraƧao; however, the entire fleet of 17 vessels was wrecked on the Las Aves Archipelago. The wreck of the French fleet is claimed by some to have helped usher in the Golden Age of Piracy. In June 1678 he was made commander of the six ships and 700 men salvaged from the Las Aves Disaster. De Grammont landed his men in Spanish-held Venezuela and captured Maracaibo, as well as several smaller towns including Gibraltar, penetrating as far inland as Trujillo. For the next six months the pirates plundered the entire region. This was followed by another successful raid on the Venezuelan port of La Guaira, captured in a daring night attack. However the buccaneers were later attacked by a larger Spanish force but managed to escape. They returning to Petite Goave as heroes in December of 1678.

    In June 1680, de Grammont joined forces with Thomas Paine and a captain named Wright at Blanquilla Island. Together with 50 men they successfully raided the port town of Cumana, and captured the defending soldiers. De Grammont however was badly wounded by a sword cut to the neck while fighting Spanish reinforcements and returned to Las Aves to recover. Returning from an unsuccessful summer in 1682, while in command of eight ships, he sailed with Nicholas Van Hoorn at the request of the governor of Petite Goave to harass the Spanish. During this period they attacked ships which unknown to them belonged to the Dutch pirate Laurens de Graaf. On meeting de Graaf on Bonaco Island they asked him to join them. De Graaf initially refused but later agreed. Together in May of 1683, they sacked Vera Cruz. The pirates fled the area after several days of looting to avoid a heavily armed Spanish ship fleet in the area.

    In July 1685, de Grammont and de Graaf sacked the Mexican city of Campeche. After two months of plundering the city with little result. de Grammont sent a demand for ransom to the governor, who refused. Then de Grammont commenced to execute prisoners as retaliation, but de Graaf stopped the executions and de Grammont parted company from his allies. In April 1686, he heading northeast to sail off of St. Augustine, Florida, planning a raid alongside French buccaneer Nicolas Brigaut.. A storm damaged and grounded Brigaut's ship near Matanzas Inlet. As Brigaut waited for de Grammont to rescue him and his sailors, Spanish soldiers captured and executed Brigaut. The rescue never came as de Grammont's ship was caught in the same storm that wrecked Brigaut's vessel, and was lost with all hands according to a buccaneer named Du Marc.




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