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(also filibuster, buccaneer), a sea-going pirate who in the 17th century plundered mainly Spanish ships and colonies in the Americas.

In the 1620’s freebooters controlled the island of St. Christopher (St. Kitts), which became their first base of operations, and in the 1630’s they controlled part of Hispaniola. The freebooters were predominantly English, French, and Dutch. England and France made use of the freebooters in their rivalry with Spain for conquest in the colonies. In 1671, under the leadership of the Englishman H. Morgan, they captured the city of Panama and proceeded to attack the Spanish holdings along the entire Pacific coast. In the 1680’s freebooters captured and plundered Veracruz and several other cities in Mexico, as well as several cities in Peru. The depredations of the freebooters helped weaken the ties between Spain and her American colonies and seriously damaged her maritime power.

In the 19th century the term “filibusters” was applied to North American adventurers who attacked the countries of South and Central America—for example, W. Walker’s incursions in the 1850’s into Mexico and the countries of Central America.

References in periodicals archive ?
The dispersed nature of power during the medieval period rendered attempts to distinguish, through the issuance of letters of reprisal and marque, between authorized naval commerce warfare and freebooting piracy more theoretical than real.
Also, what party is going to accept these freebooting MPs?
Commercial fishing is a deeply troubled industry, caught between a freebooting past in which high seas fishing was a free-for-all among fishermen who behaved as if the fish in the sea were inexhaustible--and a future in which fish populations are known to be finite, with many threatened or even facing extinction.
The Federal Government played a key interventionist role in the midst of all this freebooting capitalism, following certain Whig traditions, to make Minnesota, as well as much of the West, ripe for development.
But freebooting voyages to the Caribbean by vessels from Philadelphia and other ports captured nearly 2,500 Spanish and French merchant ships and reaped enormous profits for both the buccaneers and the colonial seaboard merchants who exported manufactured goods to the Caribbean in exchange for sugar and molasses to supply colonial distilleries.
Most fatefully of all, in 1171, seizing the initiative from a group of freebooting Anglo-Norman adventurers summoned to the aid of Ireland's warring kings, he launched an expedition of his own across the Irish Sea: virtually the only time that a successful conquest of Ireland was initiated from the British mainland.
But regulars who broke the rules of war are not the primary concern here; rather, Ward focuses on marauding bands composed of little more than outlaws, members of freebooting gangs motivated by a combination of "revenge and greed" who roamed between the lines in a lawless no-man's land (x).
NAIROBI - Kenya's government is introducing tough new rules aimed at regulating the public transport sector, especially the freebooting ''matutu'' minibuses.
15, Kyodo - Kenya's government is introducing tough new rules aimed at regulating the public transport sector, especially the freebooting ''matutu'' minibuses.
London's trips to Polynesia and Mexico did prompt some cynical descriptions of whites as freebooting imperialists running roughshod over native cultures, and his Hawaiian stories in particular reveal a new admiration for non-Caucasians.
The editors of Fortune and BusinessWeek greeted the early success of Bernard Ebbers at WorldCom and Kenneth Lay at Enron with a similar fluttering of mindless awe--fearless CEOs, freebooting captains of commercial enterprise, tough-minded and resolute, driving up the stock price as if punching cows across the Missouri River into Marlboro Country and the California energy market.
The real thing (clockwise from top left)Welsh pirates Howell Davis,Black Bart Roberts (BartiDdu)and Captain Henry Morgan, whose exploits led to him becoming governor of Jamaica; When Black Bart was killed, the English captain was knighted; Terry Breverton; Without Morgan Jamaica would have been lost to the Spanish; Terry Breverton; The piratical image exploited by Hollywood in stars such as Errol Flynn owes much to the exploits of freebooting Welsh captains and crews