Monday, August 09, 2004

Peso de a ocho

asiento: slave trade monopoly granted by Spain to Dutch, French or English suppliers after the mid-seventeenth century.

avería: Spanish ad valorem tax on merchandise shipped between Spain and the Americas, used to fund defence against pirates.

bagnio: North African jail where Christian prisoners were held until ransomed.

biscocho: sea-biscuit, or "hard tack," the early modern European sailor's staple food.

cimarrón: runaway, usually referring to escaped slaves, as in Panama.

derrotero: sea chart, noting horizons, anchorages, shoals etc.

guerrilla: little war, used to refer to informal warfare, robbery and hostage-taking.

matelotage: practice of same-sex mating for legal and possibly sexual purposes among buccaneers of Hispaniola; matelots designated one another as heirs in case of accidental death.

palenque: stockade, but also applied to cimarrón settlements.

pechelingue: Dutch pirates and privateers, the term being apparently derived from the port of Vlissingen.

peso de a ocho: piece of eight, Spanish silver coin divided into eight reales.

presidio: garrisoned fort.

rancherías: pearl fisheries, as on the islands of Margarita and Cubagua.

regua: Spanish mule train carrying merchandise, slaves, silver and gold across the Panamanian Isthmus.

rescate: practice of bartering for contraband in Spanish American colonies, practice of ransoming Christian captives (among them Cervantes) from Berber corsairs in North Africa.

situado: onerous seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Spanish American impost used to pay for anti-pirate fortifications, military salaries, and so on in Panama, Cartagena, Havana, Flordia, etc.

Rich pickings from a pirate glossary, found aboard Blood and silver: a history of
piracy in the Caribbean and Central America
by Kris E. Lane.


George Manka said...

Hello Bern!

Bagnio .... bagne in French: the penal colony in Guyane is called Le Bagne de Guyane. A bagnard is a prisoner in that penal colony. Any French book on the first fleet speaks of les bagnards australiens.

"Le mot lui-même dérivait de l'italien bagno, il rappelait cet édifice de Constantinople ou était enfermés les esclaves européens du Sultan." (Sorry about the French!)

Of course, bagno means bath. This edifice in Constantinople was situated close by the baths there.

Also, Vlissingen or Flushing was one of the first towns to rebel against the Spanish in 1527.


Yotro said...

G'day cobber Coogee mate never before had best.

Baths, of course. Cervantes relates how some of the captives had to slave away in the baths.

trevor@k'alebeul said...

Pechelingue is interesting for several reasons, one of which being the improbability that Spanish-speakers would have come up with it because they were unable to pronounce Vlissingen. Does he explain how he thinks the metamorphosis happened or give any other details?

Yotro said...

No, Trevor, the author offers no further explanation. The book is aimed at a general readership --- although it has the whiff of PhD about it --- and the glossary is meant to be helpful, not expert. What other reasons make this entry suspect?

Trevor said...

I tried to explain here. Thanks for the prompt!