Warning: Please be advised that the following post contains descriptions of graphic, historical violence, and may not be suitable for some readers.
With his newly renewed hatred for the Spanish people, L’Ollonais began to increase the severity of his raids against both Spanish ships and towns along the coast. He forged a partnership with another Caribbean seaman named Michel de Basco, with whom he was able to amass a large army of pirates: a total of 600 men and 8 ships were under the control of these two buccaneers.
In 1667, L’Ollonais and Basco sailed for the Gulf of Venezuela, where they organized a land attack against a town at Lake Maracaibo. Although the town was defended by an “impregnable” fort with sixteen guns, L’Ollonais was able to approach the town from its undefended landward angle, pillaging the city and devastating its resources… however, L’Ollonais realized that many of the townspeople had somehow escaped, taking their most valuable items with them! Enraged, L’Ollonais and his men tracked down the townsfolk, torturing anyone they found until the person would reveal where he or she had hidden their possessions.
Unfortunately for the people, L’Ollonais was an expert at torture, and was able to find out all the information he wanted – he often sliced off portions of a person’s flesh with his sword, burned others alive, or in other cases, simply tied knotted rope around a person’s head until their eyes literally popped out.
For the next several months, L’Ollonais and his crew continued to rape, pillage, and burn the area around Maracaibo, before eventually moving onto Gibraltar, a city along the southern shore of the lake. Although they were clearly outnumbered, the pirates were able to slaughter all 500 of Gibraltar’s soldiers, holding the city for random. Without mercy, he tortured, raped, and murdered many of the inhabitants – however, when the ransom was finally paid, L’Ollonais refused to leave. Instead, he plundered all of the city’s valuables, enslaved whoever was left, and burned the rest of the place to the ground.
Later that same year, L’Ollonais mounted another expedition, this time with 700 men at his disposal. He planned to make attacks in the Caribbean, first capturing the port of Puerto Cabellos with a follow-up at San Pedro… but before he could make it to San Pedro, the fleet was ambushed by the Spaniards, where L’Ollonais was barely able to escape with his life. The historian who wrote The History of the Buccaneers in America in 1684 explains L’Ollonais’ reaction after capturing some of the attacking Spaniards:
“[L’Ollonais] drew his cutless, and with it cut open the breast of one of those poor Spaniards, and pulling out his heart with his sacrilegious hands, began to bite and gnaw it with his teeth, like a ravenous wolf, saying to the rest: I will serve you all alike, if you show me not another way [to San Pedro].”
The rest of the captured Spaniards showed L’Ollonais how to get to San Pedro, but unfortunately, there was barely any treasure left once they arrived. Angry, many of the surviving members of L’Ollonais’ crew abandoned him, diminishing his army to only one ship. Believing that the small force could still conquer their next stop – Nicaragua – L’Ollonais sailed out… only to be wrecked along the way to the Gulf of Darien. As the men came ashore to find food, they were promptly captured by the Native Americans in the area, who were also known allies of the Spanish. In The History of the Buccaneers, it was written that, in an ironic twist of fate, the natives “tore him in pieces alive, throwing his body limb by limb into the fire, and his ashes into the air.”
L’Ollonais was defeated at last.
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