Francis L'Ollonais

1635–1668

Francis L’Olonnais was a famous French pirate who plundered the Caribbean during the late 1600s. Nicknamed "Bane of the Spaniards," L’Olonnais terrorized Spanish island settlements until his death by cannibals.

Lolonois
LOLONOIS, WITH THOSE THAT REMAINED, HAD MUCH ADO TO ESCAPE ABOARD THEIR BOATS
L’Olonnais first arrived in the Caribbean as an indentured servant, but by 1660 he was free of his debts, and he took to wandering the islands before settling in Saint-Dominigue and becoming a buccaneer. A year or two later, he was shipwrecked off the coast of Mexico and attacked by a horde of Spanish soldiers. They killed almost his entire crew, but he managed to escape a similar fate by hiding among the dead. After the Spaniards departed, he escaped and sailed for Tortuga, where he held the town hostage, demanding a ransom from its Spanish leaders. The governor of Havana sent a ship to kill the pirate’s party, but L’Olonnais murdered the entire Spanish crew save one.

In 1667, L’Olonnais left Tortuga to sack Maracaibo. Arriving several weeks later, he attacked the heavily guarded city’s undefended landward side and pillaged its homes, but he soon found that the citizens had fled and hidden their treasure. The pirate tracked down the residents and tortured them until they revealed the location of their gold, resorting to such techniques as burning them alive or slicing off portions of their flesh. After spending two months in Maracaibo, L’Olonnais moved south to Gibraltar, where he ransacked the city even after being paid a ransom. On a later expedition of similar nature, he was ambushed by Spanish forces but managed a narrow escape. After surviving the attack, however, he met his end when his ship ran aground on the Panamanian coast and he was eaten by the resident natives.


Key events during the life of Francis L'Olonnais:


Year
Event
1635
Born in France
1650s
Came to the Caribbean as an indentured servant
1660
Moved to Saint-Dominigue and became a buccaneer
1662
Shipwrecked and left for dead by Spanish, sailed to Tortuga and held the city ransom
1667
Left Tortuga to sack Maracaibo
  Raided Gibraltar
  Pillaged Puerto Cabello
  Ambushed by Spanish but escaped
1668
Eaten by natives in Panama

Other Resources


Story Links
Book Links
The Origin of Francis Lolonois  in  The Buccaneers of America  by  John Esquemeling
Story of L'Olonnois the Cruel  in  Buccaneers and Pirates of Our Coasts  by  Frank R. Stockton


Contemporary
Short Biography
John Esquemeling Nobleman who became a pirate, then returned to Europe and penned a famous book on the subject.
Bartholemy Portuguez Famous South American Pirate of the Caribbean during the mid-17th century.
Henry Morgan English privateer who became one of the most notorious pirates of the Spanish Main.