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The French are the first to singe the Spanish beard in the New World. The English, under Queen Elizabeth, were to set the beard aflame. But it is the Dutch in the early seventeenth century who truly scourge the whiskered Spaniard from head to toe. Few indeed hate the Spanish as do the Dutch, and with a vengeance do they follow in the spirit of their Sea Beggar forebearers. It is not, however, the Dutch navy that first batters Spain in the Americas, but private enterprise. Although set up for trade, the Dutch West India Company can hardly expect Spanish cooperation in the quest to intrude on the acquisition of the riches of the Americas. Much of the WIC is therefore composed of privateers—even privateer fleets—in the first half of the seventeenth century. And with a vengeance do they harry the Spaniard and seize his wealth, including a plate fleet, and simultaneously establish colonies on both continents. But wars do not last forever, and as the Dutch seize ground in the Caribbean, North America, Brazil, and Surinam, honest trade with the Spaniard takes over, and the fierce Dutch fighting captains who might have otherwise served the WIC as privateers now serve among the French and English buccaneers in the second half of the century. Only in time of war will some of them abandon their buccaneer brethren and serve the Dutch.



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