Imagine yourself in Saint-Jean-de-Luz in the 17th and 18th centuries : there’s a good chance that you saw a far amount of corsairs. Nowadays, some streets still carry their names.
Thus the city was known from the seventeenth century by the English who feared the formidable Basque fishermen converted into privateers. Indeed, their reputation was great and they were so gifted that catches were plentiful. Many of these luziens captains boarded frigates, brigs and schooners equipped with guns, and plied the seas to “fall upon” the enemy boats.
One of the most famous is Johannès de Suhigaraychipi, named Coursic.Terror of the Dutch, the Spanish and the English, he caught by himself more than 100 ships.
By the way, do you know the difference between a pirate and a corsair ?
The corsair was authorized to take over enemy boats. They share this wealth between the king, the admiralty, the shipowner and the crew. If anyone was captured, he was considered to be a prisoner of war.
The pirate, meanwhile, scoured the seas for his own account and could be hung.
But it is especially in the eighteenth century, during the wars of succession, that the race reached its peak. At that time, the city had forty shipowners, each with several armed ships, and one can still admire some of their houses in the historical district. The most fortunate was Jean Peritz Haraneder, Vicomte de Jolimont, descendant of a long line of navigaters and who alone had eighteen boats.
Other privateers and shipowners have marked the history of Saint-Jean-de-Luz such as Chibau, Hayet, Saint Martin, CPCE … Strolling through the city, you can find their names engraved on memorial slabs as well as on nameplates in certain streets that will remind you of the adventures of these brave sailors.
Saint Jean de Luz – A visit full of tradition
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