In 1721, the pirate Olivier Levasseur, nicknamed “La Buse” made the most beautiful catch in the entire History of Piracy.
Bibliography: “Mon Trésor à qui saura le prendre” by Emmanuel Mezino;
“Histoire de la Piraterie” by Robert de la Croix.
Pictures of the video taken from: Assassin’s Creed III, Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, artworks and game pictures.
Music: Soundtracks from the videogame “Sea Dogs”
Wikipedia French article with the full cryptogram’s text:
An original feature of the actual flag of Levasseur: it is one of the very few “Jolly Roger” showing a black pattern on a white background.
For three centuries, the adventurous life of Levasseur has been an inspiration for the most famous authors, like Robert Louis Stevenson who reused the story of the cannons of La Nossa Senhora in “Treasure Island”.
Mangaka Eiichiro Oda took inspiration from La Buse in his great series “One Piece”: the story starts with the execution of Gol D. Roger, Lord of the Pirates, who throws an incomplete treasure map to the crowd, and whose last words are practically the same than those said by Levasseur.
The captain of Bird Galley, William Snelgrave, was spared by Levasseur and his men, because his crew described him as an officer of great value and above all human. Snelgrave was kept captive during a month, and wrote later about the extravagant feasts which followed the capture of his ship. Besides, he noted that most of the sailors who turned to piracy justified it because of the very harsh discipline in the national navies.
In his book “A General History of the Pyrates”, Daniel Defoe wrote that Levasseur progressively lost the use of one eye, and often hid it behind a headband. The eyepatch is today considered as a stereotype of pirates in collective imagination.
A pirate of legend, Levasseur belongs today to the folklore in the Indian Ocean. His tomb –located in the marine cemetery of Saint-Paul, Réunion- is a true tourist attraction. However, it is now acknowledged that it does not keep the pirate’s remains. Indeed, Levasseur’s body was shown to the public for several days, then thrown into a common grave, as it was the custom of this time for all executed pirates.
Contrary to La Buse, Blackbeard chose to stay in the Americas in 1716. But his career ended as soon as 1718, killed by Lieutenant Robert Maynard of the Royal Navy, during the combat of Ocracoke.
Contrary to his legend, Blackbeard was not the cruellest pirate. He preferred ruse and intimidation rather than violent actions. Moreover, his career was relatively short and not so profitable, compared to other pirates, including La Buse.
The grandfather of the French author Jean-Marie Le Clézio spent twenty years of his life in search of La Buse’s treasure, raking the beaches of Rodrigues island, in the Mascarenhas Archipelago.
The Englishman Reginald Cruise-Wilkins searched La Buse’s treasure from 1947 to 1970. He thought that it was hidden in Mahé, Seychelles. He did find a pirate’s cache but this one only contained a few golden coins and some pistols.
The main plot of the Android videogame “Assassin’s Creed: Pirates” made by Ubisoft is the search of La Buse’s treasure.
A French pirate, named Captain Levasseur” appears in the American movie “Captain Blood” (released in 1935). He is loosely related to La Buse, with his French accent and his slash. Yet, as it should be in any good Anglo-Saxon movie, he is killed during a duel with the English hero.
Did you know ? At the turn of the 18th century, France, England and Holland managed to take many territories from Spain in the Caribbean. With the growing might of these states, the era of the flibustery ended and the era of piracy started.
Famous English pirates (Edward Teach “Blackbeard”, Stede Bonnet, Jack Rackham...) did not hesitate to attack the ships of the English navy.
Because of the massive British immigration, the French were a minority in the region but they remained active.
It’s the case of Emanuel Wynne who started his career attacking English ships along the coast of Carolina.
Then he sailed to the Caribbean and after to the Gulf of Guinea.
On July 18, 1700, off the Sao Joao island (current Brava, Cape Verde), Wynne only just managed to lose HMS Poole, led by Captain John Cranby. In his report, the British officer described the flag of Wynne’s ship L’Aventure (The Adventure): “A black flag with a skull above two crossbones and an hourglass”.
It is the first description close to the famous “Black Flag” (or Jolly Roger). Today, historians agree to say that Wynne is the indisputable inspirer of Jolly Roger.