A “Malicious Business”: Piracy in the Dutch Republic

  • Virginia West Lunsford


From the early years of the Dutch Republic, the laws condemning and proscribing zeerooverij--piracy—were serious and manifold. The charter document of the five Admiralty colleges, drafted in 1597, explicitly forbade the crime.1 In 1611, the States-General promulgated a general proclamation “against the Pirates,” the first sweeping regulation treating the misdeed.2 Denouncing Dutch zeeroovers as “scum” and “rabble” who were “Enemies of the human race,” and whose “robbery [and] plundering” represented transgressions “against all the Law[s] of Nature and People,” the edict declared the authorities’ intention to “pursue, quell, punish, and demolish” those who committed such grievous acts. It also stated the government’s firm intention to discipline the perpetrators by threatening their lives and possessions, corrective measures that also awaited those who aided and abetted the scoundrels.3


Corporal Punishment Criminal Record Errant Privateer Dutch Government Dutch Court 
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© Virginia West Lunsford 2005

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  • Virginia West Lunsford

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