Kapers and Commissievaarders: The Dutch Privateer

  • Virginia West Lunsford


Claes Compaen’s original occupation, privateering—the legal practice of attacking and capturing enemy ships and goods—was widely practiced throughout Europe during the Golden Age.1 Indeed, it was a feature of Dutch maritime life long before then, arising as a distinct and recognizable activity by the end of the fourteenth century.2 After the establishment of the first Admiralty in the Netherlands, in the city of Veere in 1488, privateering became somewhat more institutionalized and prevalent.3 It flourished, especially from 1551 to 1556, when at least 20–30 privateering ships per year set sail to hound and harass the French.4 During this era, it probably found its most ardent practitioners in Zeeland, but Friesland, too, produced privateers, most notably in the legendary figure of “Grote Piet.”5


Seventeenth Century Corporal Punishment Merchant Shipping United Province Privateer Ship 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 5.
    R.B. Prud’homme van Reine, “Nederlandse Kaapvaart en Piraterij in Beeld,” in Prud’homme van Reine and van der Oest, Kapers op de Kust, 33–35.Google Scholar
  2. 6.
    Verhees-van Meer, De Zeeuwse Kaapvaart, 8. See also de Meij, “Oorlogsvaart,” 334.Google Scholar
  3. 9.
    Jaap R. Bruijn, “Dutch Privateering during the Second and Third Anglo-Dutch Wars,” ed. Commission Internationale d’Histoire Maritime, Course et Piraterie …, Vol. I (Paris: Institut de Recherche et d’Histoire des Textes/Editions du Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, 1975), 411. See also R. Baetens, “Organisatie en resultaten van de Vlaamse Kaapvaart in de 17e eeuw,” Mededelingen van de Belgische Marine Aeademie, 21 (1969/1970), 98–99 and 106–109.Google Scholar
  4. 19.
    Verhees-van Meer, De Zeeuwse Kaapvaart, 2. When a privateer seized a ship that the Admiralty did not consider a “good prize,” the captured vessel was released and the privateer’s sponsors were responsible for paying for the court costs.Google Scholar
  5. 27.
    J.K. Oudendijk, “The Dutch Republic and Algiers, 1662–1664,” Course etPiraterie: Etudes présentees a la Commission Internationale dHistoire Maritime, Vol. I, ed. Commission Internationale d’Histoire Maritime (Paris: Institut de Recherche et d’Histoire des Textes/Editions du Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, 1975), 156.Google Scholar
  6. 32.
    Bruijn, “Dutch Privateering,”402.Google Scholar
  7. 33.
    See, e.g., Verz. Thysius: Artyckel-Brief van de … West-Indische Compagnie …(Amsterdam: Nic. van Ravesteyn, 1657); and Verz. Thysius: Artyckel-Brief van de … Oost-Indische Compagnie …(t’Amsterdam: R. en G. Wetstein, 1672).Google Scholar
  8. 61.
    Verz. Thysius: States-General, Placaet. De Staten Generael … Doen te weten … dat wy ooth noodigh athten dat de Commissie-Vaerders …(’s Graven-Hage: J. Scheltus), January 8, 1691.Google Scholar
  9. 72.
    Verz. Thysius: Gidion de Wildt and Hans Wargaren, Copie. Uyt het Schip Sint Benita den 18 November 1657...(Amsterdam: Otto Barentsz. Smient, 1657).Google Scholar
  10. 131.
    J.S. Bromley, “The North Sea in Wartime (1688–1713),” Bijdragen en Mededelingen betreffende de Geschiedenis der Nederlanden, Vol. 92 (1977), 292.Google Scholar
  11. 183.
    Verhees-van Meer, De Zeeuwse Kaapvaart, 3; and G.N. Clark, “Neutral Commerce in the War of the Spanish Succession and the Treaty of Utrecht,” The British Yearbook of International Law (1928), 74.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Virginia West Lunsford 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Virginia West Lunsford

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations