Ubisoft is going into one well-mined territory of history with Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, but infusing a centuries-old feud into the Caribbean Sea circa 1715 could offer a genuinely new take on the ‘Golden Age of Piracy.’

While scholars debate the actual beginning and end of this ‘golden age,’ a rough estimate would place it from 1690-1725 – putting Assassin’s Creed 4 smack in the middle. Why did this time period become the most lucrative for maritime bandits, and produce some of history’s most infamous pirates? To understand the circumstances, and just how many plot lines could be utilized by Ubisoft to expand on the Templar/Assassin rivalry, a bit of context is needed.

Starting around 1650, an increase in shipping in and around Bermuda, and the constant struggle for power in the area between Spain, France and England made Jamaica and Tortuga, Haiti particular hot spots of pirate activity. Tortuga (familiar to any Pirates of the Caribbean fan) became a haven for buccaneers as the nations fought for control over the island’s fortifications. With their respective navies too busy with one another to worry about plundering or theft, pirates had a relative free ride, aided by the French governor’s importing of over 1,600 prostitutes in an effort to calm the notorious rogues (it didn’t work).

Assassins Creed 4 Island Setting

With the ability to operate among the warring nations, and a freedom from larger political clashes, piracy thrived, as did Tortuga. It’s highly likely that Edward Kenway will be frequenting the pirate port at some point, and if the developers recreate the settlement with accuracy in mind, players are in for quite a sight.

While all of this was taking place through the latter half of the 17th Century, the North American settlements being constructed by France, England, Spain and the Netherlands meant that sooner or later, something was going to give. So when King Charles II of Spain died in 1700, and his successor was left in question – along with the vast territories owned by Spain in and around the Gulf of Mexico – the world’s superpowers made their move.

Spain divided itself in alliances with England on one side and France on the other, thus beginning the War of Spanish Succession, which raged on for over a decade. Ultimately, the war was ended and the assets divided between each side; the first signs of a ‘balance of power’ being judged necessary for world governance. But after thousands of privateers and sailors were relieved of military duty, the stage was set for an era of a completely different nature.

Assassins Creed 4 Black Flag Concept Art

When British participation in the war ended in 1713, a sudden influx of professionally-trained (and unemployed) English and American seamen met the increase in trade agreements that turned the Caribbean into one of the busiest shipping routes in the world – kicking off the undisputed years of the ‘golden age of piracy.’ And the exact time in which Black Flag is set, with one such English sailor as its protagonist.

As can be guessed, it was this period of time that gave rise to some of history’s most infamous pirates; unemployed sailors and former officers whose names (and nicknames) would soon become the stuff of legend. A few of these men and women are confirmed to appear in Black Flag, and a quick glance proves just how easy it would be to tell a single story containing each.

Much of the story will likely focus on one of history’s most underrated and overlooked pirates, Captain Benjamin Hornigold. His name may not be a household one, but his second-in-command Edward ‘Blackbeard’ Teach certainly is.

Next: The Famous Men (and Women) Edward Kenway will likely be meeting…

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