Piracy and Trade of The English

The Portugese habit of enlisting foreigners to evict the infidels continued for many years, and raiding visits from the North European Crusaders became a regular occurence to the extent that some didn’t bother going any further than Portugal and Spain. As Rose Macaulay continues:

“The sight of these large and odious armed men… sailing in fleets up the rivers and disembarking with barbarian northern cries, only too ready for anything, became familiar to the Galicians and the Portugese. So familiar and so disconcerting that the crusaders who landed to perform their Lenten duties at Santiago in 1189 were driven off by an exasperated populace which too well knew their habits, and had to retreat with their duties unfulfilled. Many of this particular band were Danes, even larger and more odious than the Germans, Dutcha and English who formed the rest of the armada. ..”

They met up with King Sancho, and joined him in conquering the Algarve. But the locals knew of their approach, so fled when they landed at Portimao, hid in the castle of Alvor which wa easily ransacked.

“One raid by northern barbarians is very like anohter; the Saracens of Algarve experienced now what the Britons had suffered from the invading Saxon hordes long ago, and wheat the Saxons had endured from Norse Vikings, what Roman Europe had from Goths, Visigoths and Huns. Satiated fdo the moment with infidel blood and loot, the crusaders tarried no more, but continud their voyage to the Holy Land. ”

The folowing year, “like migratory sea birds” another fleet arrived, en route to join Richard the Lion Heart in the Mediteranean.

“they fell on Lisbon, as a Portugese historian puts it, like a pack of wild beasts got loose, running through the city and attacking the citizens with violence, more particularly the Saracens and Jews, but not sparing the Portugese, their persons, their property, or their female relations. For several days the violence, sacking and burning went on int he city, the suburbs, and the country round. The king, hearing of these distressing scenes, hurried down from Santarem to stop themp a tactful man, he did not return violence in kind, but requested the commanders of the marauders to meke them desist and observe the rules made for crusaders by King Richard, who knew their temptations and habits. The commanders failed to cnfine the unruly mob to their ships; violent Anglo-Portuese fighting broke out; the king sent his troops to arrest and endungeon all the seven hundred English in the town they were locked up until pledges had been given for their good conduct and the restitution of plunder; this arranged,  the English fleet, to Portugese relief, sailed off to he Mediterranean. ”

 Of course they returned, to Tagus in 1217, and 100 of the fleet decided to stay, to besiege Alcacer do Sol, in anticipation of huge spoils. they believed they would win as they saw a gre cross in the stars and whent he sun rose on the day fo battle they saw an army of Templars in aerial combat with the Mussalmen.

“It is a relief not to have to record subsequent excesses on the art of our ancestors and their colleagues who seem on this occasion to have behaved with no more impropriety than the situation warranted. ”

The Portugese asked the pope if the mercenaries could stay another year,but wsa refused. The Pope seeing the forces being distracted from the main event in the Holy Land.

 “Besides memories, there remained in Portugal a few English settlements up the Tagus, some Portugese versions of some English names, and some English blood – large frames and blue eyes scattered about among a small dark people up and down the country, where the adventurers of the Cross had roved and pleasured.

It would be interesting to have more light on the confused darkness which obscures the numbers and careers of the English crusading settlers. Most, presumably, lived by cultivating their lands; some may habe taken to trading, and formed the core of the Anglo-Portugese commercial relations that were, a little later, so rapidly and strongly to develop and thirve. If the behaviour of the crusaders in general fails to suggest suitability or taste for a steady business career, it must be remembered that piracy and trade have traditionally been twin activities of the English seafaring adventurer, and those who have landed sword in hand have often stayed to buy and sell. “

5 thoughts on “Piracy and Trade of The English

  1. There is a book that I am unable to remember the name of which has the Islamic view point on the Crusaders. The Crusaders were worse than beasts.


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