L'Olonnais, Francis (1630–1670)

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L'Olonnais, Francis (1630–1670)

Francis L'Olonnais (b. 1630; d. 1670), notorious French buccaneer who preyed upon Spanish shipping in the Caribbean and terrorized settlements along the Spanish Main and the coast of Central America. He was born Jean David Nau but known as L'Olonnais after his birthplace, Sables d'Olonne in Brittany. L'Olonnais came to the West Indies as an indentured servant but on gaining his freedom, he quickly earned respect as a successful and unusually murderous buccaneer. With the support of the governor of Tortuga, L'Olonnais used that island as his base of operations, equipping his expeditions there and drawing his crew from its unsavory population. His greatest achievement was the capture and plunder of treasure from the relatively well-defended towns of Maracaibo and San Antonio de Gibraltar in the Gulf of Venezuela. L'Olonnais died at Islas Barú, Darién, Panama at the hands of a group of Indians allied to the Spanish. The natives tore his body apart and threw it, limb by limb, into a fire.

See alsoBuccaneers and Freebooters.


Alexander O. Exquemelin, The Buccaneers of America (1993).

Jenifer Marx, Pirates and Privateers of the Caribbean (1992).

Additional Bibliography

Apestegui Cardenal, Cruz. Piratas en el caribe: Corasarios, filibusteros y bucaneros: 1493–1700. Barcelona: Lunwerg, 2000.

                                       J. David Dressing