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Martin Frobisher: The Pirate-Explorer


Sir Martin Frobisher
Born 1535 or 1539, died 1594

Portrait: Martin Frobisher

Martin Frobisher was the first Englishman since the Cabots to look for the Northwest Passage, and was the first European to sail into what later became known as Hudson Strait. In his time, he was most famous as a privateer and pirate. Indeed, it was partly his greed for gold that sent him on three voyages to Canada's northern waters.

Pirate or Privateer?
A pirate was someone who steals at sea. A privateer was given permission by a king or queen to steal from enemy ships, under certain circumstances. In exchange, the privateers were supposed to share their booty with the Crown.

Pirate Hide-and-Seek
"Spanish treasure ships were most vulnerable to attack in the early stages of their return voyages. Privateers knew the ships had to head north from the Caribbean to find favorable wind before returning to Spain. So, waiting off the North American coast, the privateers could take the Spanish by surprise."

Platt, Richard. Pirate. Toronto: Stoddart, 1991, p. 22.


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