The heyday of the buccaneers was from circa 1650-1725 when working either individually or in great pirate fleets out of strongholds like Port Royal of Jamaica, they raided as far north as Canada and as far south as Brazil and equatorial Africa. Their targets of choice were not only Spanish treasure galleons and rich merchant vessels but also coastal towns and cities in Cuba, Mexico, Venezuela and the many small but valuable islands of the Greater and Lesser Antilles chains of the Caribbean Sea. Though mainly a 17th and 18th century phenomenon, piracy in the Caribbean did have a brief resurgence around 1820 before disappearing.
Some swashbucklers operated legally, by commission, in time of war such as the privateers (private vessels licensed by their government with a "letter of marque" to prey upon enemy commerce) which abounded during the naval wars of the 1600s, the American Revolution, the Napoleonic Wars and the War of 1812. Others were entirely outside the law. Still others moved in and out of legality with ease as the circumstances suited them.
They were Englishmen, Scotsmen, Welshmen, Dutchmen, Frenchmen, Spaniards, Portuguese, Danes, Americans, Indians and Africans. Some were loyal to their king, some to their fellow buccaneers and some only to themselves. Some had impeccable manners, some were implacable thugs. Now and again they would gather and celebrate the success of a great raid from which all returned laden with booty.