The Armies and Wars of the Sun King 1643-1715

Volume 5: Buccaneers and Soldiers in the Americas

René Chartrand

Louis XIVs French soldiers and buccaneers fought and created a vast overseas domain in the West Indies and Latin America thanks to his discreet and effective support. This study presents hitherto unpublished data on the strategic impacts, actions, organization, weapons, uniforms, costumes and lifestyles of these extraordinary soldiers.
Date Published :
November 2022
Publisher :
Helion and Company
Series :
Century of the Soldier
Illustration :
102 b/w illustrations, 24 b/w photos, 50 color illustrations, 2 color photos, 58 maps, 2 tables
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Paperback
ISBN : 9781915070357
Pages : 340
Dimensions : 9.75 X 7 inches
Stock Status : Not Yet Published. Available for Pre-Order


Louis XIV, France’s Sun King, had global Overseas Grand Visions for his nation. In America. His transformation of struggling small Caribbean settlements into an extensive and very prosperous French domain amidst many challenges and battles are mostly unknown. Thanks to research mostly in France’s overseas archives, we offer this study. In its first narrative nine chapter, covering the 16th to the early 18th century, the West Indies and much of coastal Latin America were in near-perpetual hostilities largely caused by the fantastic riches found in America. Spain claimed the continent with its gold and silver, often eliminating foreigners by the sword. French and British corsairs and later settlers and soldiers nevertheless occupied small islands; in 1655, a British expedition occupied much larger Jamaica. Meanwhile, mostly French adventurers were roaming in the wilderness of western Haiti (then called saint-Domingue). When caught by Spaniards, they were given no quarter. They became the buccaneers or Brethren's of the Coast, amongst of the most redoubtable warriors in History, bent upon revenge upon any Spaniards. Trough them, the Sun King saw the opportunity to secure his small islands and Guyana by sending troops, ships, weapons while, more discreetly providing much officious support to buccaneers in Saint-Domingue. Regular French troops, buccaneers and the navy often united their efforts in expeditions such as the capture of Cartagena de Indias and Rio de Janeiro. They also fought in the Pacific and, after 1700, even escorted Spanish treasure fleets. Louis XIVs efforts were successful and, by 1715, the French domain was sizeable and amongst the most lucrative anywhere.

The remaining chapters and appendices outlay the organization of regular troops, notably the hitherto largely unknown establishments of Compagnies franches de la Marine (independent companies of the navy) of the Islands as permanent garrisons in the West Indies and Guyana, their services, lifestyles, weapons, uniforms and colors. The buccaneers will also be similarly presented and readers may expect huge differences with cinema buccaneers, the real one being in dirty linen clothes armed with distinctive “buccaneers muskets” of renowned accuracy and their own standards and colors.

Militiamen were also very important and often fighting. Their organization, which included Afro-Caribbeans, as well as weapons, costumes and known uniforms are presented. Fortifications, especially their West Indian peculiarities, are further discussed. A chronology of most battles, appendices and annotated bibliography round out the work.

About The Author

René Chartrand was born in Montreal and educated in Canada, the United States and the Bahamas. A senior curator with Canada’s National Historic Sites of Parks Canada for nearly three decades and he was also attached to Canada’s Department of National Defence as an historian. He went on as a free lance writer and historical consultant for media productions and historical restorations of military sites in North America and the West Indies. As a curator, he initially specialized in military material culture and later researched organization, tactics, policy and geo-strategy. He has authored some 50 books and hundreds of articles and research notes published in England, France, the United States and Canada. He lives in Gatineau (Quebec).

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