Black Tudors: The Cimarrons
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Black Tudors: The Untold Story
This was the first time an Englishman had seen the Pacific ocean, and Diego and Drake would sail on that sea together in years to come. The Cimarrons provided advance warning of the departure of the Mule convoy and the men were ready when it approached. However one of the Englishmen was drunk and jumped up too soon and was discovered. The treasure convoy turned back and only two mule packs of silver were captured. The men escaped, but had no option but to return to Fort Diego to plan a further attempt. The Second Raid for Spanish Silver A second attempt was planned for the end of April. This time the attack was planned nearer to Nombre De Dios in an alliance with French privateers known as corsairs. The leader of the French corsairs was Guillaume le Testu, an experienced navigator and creator of maps. To give an impression of the wealth involved, the Spanish mule convoy was guarded by 45 soldiers. It consisted of 190 mules in total, each of which carried 300 lbs of silver. In the second attack, one Cimarron was killed and the French corsair leader Guillaume le Testu wounded. He was later captured and killed, but the Spanish fled leaving the treasure. Drake, the Cimarrons and the French took as much as they could carry, burying the rest. In all, it is thought that they recovered 150,000 pesos in gold and silver. Accounts report that Drake and the Cimarrons parted on good terms, Drake providing rewards and gifts for Cimarrons including a choice from the treasure. After the raid, Diego returned to Plymouth with Drake, and four years later set off with him on a voyage around the world. Cimarrons as Future Allies? It’s clear that Diego’s role as a go-between together with the Cimarron local knowledge was critical to Drake’s success in Panama. The Cimarrons provided military assistance, acted as guides, carried supplies, captured food, and set up camps. The Cimarron alliance was celebrated by Drake, and he planned further joint ventures, right up until his final voyage in 1596. However as English visits to Panama were relatively infrequent, they could not be depended upon by the Cimarrons and over the years there was closer alignment of the Cimarrons with the Spanish. Despite this, other Englishmen continued to include the Cimarrons in their plans to best the Spanish well into the 17th century.“..from thence we might, without any difficulty, plainly see the Atlantic Ocean whence now we came, and the South Atlantic [the Pacific Ocean] so much desired. After our Captain had ascended to this bower, with the chief Cimaroon, and …had seen that sea, of which he had heard such golden reports: he besought Almighty God of His goodness, to give him life and leave to sail once in an English ship, in that sea! “
Pike, Ruth (2007) Black Rebels: The Cimarrons of Sixteenth-Century Panama. The Americas, vol. 64, no. 2, pp. 243–266
Smith, Cassander L. (2016) Black Africans in the British Imagination: English Narratives of the Early Atlantic World, Louisiana State University Press
Richard Price ed. (1996) Maroon Societies: Rebel Slave Communities in the Americas, John Hopkins University Press
Wright, Irene Aloha, ed. (1932) Documents Concerning English Voyages to the Spanish Main 1569–1580, Hakluyt Society
Black Tudors: The Untold Story
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