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As the fourth largest island in the world located just 250 miles from the east coast of
Africa, Madagascar Pirates were provided refuge and sometimes much more for
those who understood its appealing closeness to the wondrous prizes of the Red Sea
Pirates in Africa ~ Pirates of Madagascar
While used as a pirate base almost continuously throughout the Golden Age
of roughly 1690 - 1730, it was a great escape from Caribbean spots made less appealing wheather
by military reprisal, intolerance, earthquake, fewer targets, or diminished need for privateering forays. Good weather and secluded coves, friendly
locals (and friendlier women), fresh water, abundant food, and no rules meant Madagascar pirates could easily achieve the lifestyle of a King in any one of the several locations around the island.
These popular spots include; Ranter Bay, Saint Augustine's Bay, Diego Suarez, fort Dauphin, Reunion Island, Mauritius, Charnock's Point, Johanna Island, Mathelaage, and the most-favored Ile Sainte Marie, also known as St. Mary's Island.
St. Mary's was first claimed around 1685 by Adam Baldridge, who became a prosperous pirate trader through the 1690's He would supply the pirates with the basics and trade the island's resources (cattle and food) for some of their plunder, which was shipped back to New York in return for more supplies.
He was elevated to the status of king, living in his hilltop mansion and fort, and in time there were as many as 1500 others who had come to live at St. Mary's. Baldridge found it best to leave in 1697 after
upsetting the natives over his slave trading practices, and his kingdom was sold to Edward Welch.
Thomas Tew and his great success around 1693 in the Red Sea caused a frenzy of activity in America, the Caribbean, and England as others prepared to seek fortune in the same region as he did. Men like
Henry Every and William Kidd took advantage of Madagascar's bounty to reprovision, repair, and rest.
Success often breeds contempt, however, And the island saw a period of idleness after the turn of the 18th century, when military patrols often chased away those whom pardon did not eliminate. Only
One more brief flurry of activity occurred after 1718 when Woodes Rogers
cleared New Providence of Pirates, and men like
Edward England, James Plantain, and Christopher
Today in Madgascar:
Having grown to a population of 16
million, today's Madgascar is a
land of farming, fishing,
mining, and forestry that
faces the challenges of many
nearby nations, such as widespread
poverty, a lagging economy, and
problems. Tourism is only recently
beginning to emerge as an
Pirates in Madagascar/ Madagascar Pirates/ Pirates of Madagascar