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French sea rovers were the first to singe the Spanish beard in the New World, and France has no intention of letting up. French adventurers showed up on Tortuga Island off the north coast of Hispaniola early in the seventeenth century. French hunters of cattle and swine soon came to be known as boucaniers, and just as soon were allied with French sea rovers, themselves soon to be known as flibustiers. These allies began with small forays against the Spanish, first from dugout canoes and piraguas, then later from larger vessels. Like the English, the French in the Caribbean, and especially on Saint-Domingue, as the French western part was known, came to rely on the flibustiers and boucaniers for defense, and almost thirty years longer. Although France at times agreed to reign in its Caribbean sea rovers, seldom did it stop supporting their plundering, whether by outright commission or via a “wink of the eye.”



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