Olivier Levasser is a French pirate. Legend of the treasure and Levasser's cryptogram

About corsairs, pirates, filibusters, bukanierah and other "gentlemen of fortune" written not one adventure novel and made more than one film. Romantic shrouded in a halo, these charismatic marauding robbers often become models for imitation, as many of them allegedly joined the pirates not at the call of the heart, but because of the circumstances.

However, in real life everything looked far from attractive. Annals of history, since time immemorial, are filled with bloody pages of murders, extortions and robberies repaired by pirates. Amaro Pargo, Olivier Levasser, Henry Morgan and many others have acquired dubious fame, terrifying sailors and coastal towns.

The Ancient Fishery

Marine robbery appeared at the dawn of civilization, together with the development of trade. Merchant ships, laden with expensive goods, but poorly armed, became easy prey for pirates. The first written references to sea robbers refer to the times of the Egyptian pharaohs.

In the ancient era, the pirates freely plowed the expanses of the Adriatic, Aegean and Mediterranean seas. Ancient Greek politicians waged a periodic struggle with their dominance, but it did not bring tangible results. Pirates continued to rob merchant ships, and sell passengers and crew to slavery.

Later, the Roman Empire was able to effectively resist the sea robbery. Pompey in the I century BC, collecting 500 ships and an army of 120 thousand people, within three months cleared the Mediterranean of pirates. Only with the fall of Rome in the 5th century AD in this region, sea robbery began to revive again.

Age of geographical discoveries

By the end of the Middle Ages, Europeans had made great strides in shipbuilding and navigation. The Spaniards and Portuguese learned to build caravels - capacious, fast and light ships capable of sailing against the wind.

The development of cartography, along with the use of the compass, now allowed to swim in the open sea, and the hypothesis of the sphericity of the Earth gave hope to reach the rich East, going west. All this prepared the Great geographical discoveries.

For two hundred years, since the second half of the XV century. And ending with the middle of the XVII century., European explorers explored the previously unknown oceans, seas, continents and islands. On the one hand, geographical discoveries were a step forward, but, on the other hand, they gave impetus to colonial seizures and an unprecedented surge of sea robbery.

It was this era that prepared the conditions for the appearance of pirates, whose names are still not forgotten. Moreover, if they are related to the search for looted treasures. For example, the cryptogram of Levasser, the leader of the thugs, who first operated in the Caribbean Sea, and then in the Indian Ocean, remains unsolved even today.

Legalized piracy

At first glance, it may seem surprising that the European monarchies themselves, to a certain extent, caused the unprecedented activity of pirates, with which they subsequently fought hard. Nevertheless, this is so.

Holland, Portugal, Great Britain, Spain and France in the 16th-17th centuries. Vied for new colonies and superiority in world trade. The stakes in such a struggle were very high, so the states involved in it were scornful when it came to choosing the means.

Thus there was privateering - legalized piracy. At first, patents for robbery of merchant ships of the enemy were issued to private individuals only for the period of military operations. However, those who entered the taste did not hasten to leave a relatively easy way of gaining money after their termination.

According to some reports, the aforementioned Olivier Levasser began his career as a privateer, robbing Spanish ships in the Atlantic Ocean on behalf of the French government. True, he soon, like many of his fellow craftsmen, chose to "work" for himself.

Piracy in the Caribbean Sea

The sea robbery played an important role in the colonization of America and the process of the initial accumulation of capital in the countries of Western Europe. The vast majority of pirates and privateers were Dutch, French, Spanish, English and Portuguese.

In the middle of the XVII century. Began a period called by historians the Golden Age of sea robbery. It lasted about 80 years, and the main arena of pirate activity at that time was the Caribbean, where the ships that transported gold, tobacco, silver, indigo, sugar and other goods cruised.

Towards the end of the same century, when the colonial states finally divided the spheres of influence, they began to eradicate the sea robbery in the Caribbean basin by common forces. For this reason, many pirates, and among them Olivier Levasser, moved to other parts of the globe to continue their illegal fishing without hindrance.

A man without a past

Reliable information about the origin of Levasser was not preserved. Some researchers believe that he belonged to the same family as Paul Levasser - another French pirate from Calais. However, there is no documentary confirmation of this hypothesis.

There is also a suggestion that Olivier comes from Tortuga - an island in the Caribbean, where in the 40s of the 17th century François Levasser was the governor. If so, then he belonged to a noble family from the Conyera (Maine department).

The same applies to the year of Olivier Levasseur's birth. The exact date is unknown to us. Most likely, he was born between 1680 and 1690. The only source relating to the time when Olivier Levasser was fishing in the Caribbean Sea, and then in the Indian Ocean, is Charles Johnson's "History of the Most Famous Pirates", released in 1720.

Forced migration

During the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1714), the government of Louis XIV lavishly distributed patents to privateers who robbed vessels in the Atlantic Ocean. However, after its termination, France joined the coalition of European powers created to eradicate piracy in this region.

It is known that in 1716 Levasser named La Buz commanded a crew of 70 sea robbers. Cruising in the Caribbean, they successfully plundered Dutch, Spanish and English ships bound for Europe or America.

Around the same time in the Bahamas, a meeting of pirate leaders took place, where the majority spoke in favor of moving to more peaceful places, as the campaign against sea robbery was gaining momentum. Among those who decided to migrate, was the pirate Olivier Levasser.

In the waters of the Indian Ocean

West Africa was the place where he was plundering in 1718-1719. Along with captains Cocklin and Davis. Having seized at least 15 vessels at the mouth of the Sierra Leone River, they broke up. This time the French pirate went with his crew to the Indian Ocean through the Cape of Good Hope.

In the summer of 1720, at one of the Comoros, the ship of Levasser was wrecked. His team was picked up by Ingland and Taylor - captains of two pirate ships. Soon Ingland was displaced and landed on the island of Mauritius, and in his place was elected Levasser.

Together with Taylor, they captured first two Arab ships, and then the cargo of an English squadron belonging to the East India Company. The extraction was great, and the pirates profitably sold it to Dutch merchants in the Indian city of Cochin. From there they turned again towards Mauritius.

A fabulous trophy

Replenishing provisions and repairing ships, Taylor and Levasser set course for Madagascar. On the path of their journey lay the island of Reunion, which at the time was called Bourbon. The pirates approached him on April 8, 1721 and found a Portuguese ship, battered by a storm, in the roadstead.

Information on the subsequent events can be found in the archives of different European countries, because the mining captured by a gang of sea robbers is considered one of the largest in the history of piracy.

On board the Portuguese flagship was the archbishop and vice-king of Goa, but most importantly - the mountains of diamonds, jewelry, expensive fabrics, furniture, silver and gold bars, dishes, objects of worship, money, etc. According to historians, the cost of diamonds only Today's rate ranges from 3 to 4 million dollars.


The mining division took place in Madagascar. Each received 42 diamonds and 4 thousand pounds each. At the beginning of the XVIII century - it was unheard of wealth, which allowed to live comfortably in Europe.

Nevertheless, the pirates did not even think of abandoning profitable fishing. It is known that in 1722 they robbed an Arab ship that was carrying goods from China, and then moved from Madagascar to the bay of Delagoa (East Africa). The local Dutch garrison not only did not resist the sea robbers, but also joined their ranks in full force.

For several months, the pirates had to repair the ships and decide what to do next: to return to the Caribbean or stay in the Indian Ocean. In the end, Taylor sailed to the West Indies, and Levasser, with a crew of 250 people, continued to steal merchant ships off the coast of East Africa, while his ship, stranded, did not crash. Since that time, Levasser settled in Madagascar.

End of career

The island of Reunion in 1642 became a French colony. From Madagascar it is separated only 700 km. In 1724, the governor of the island promised to Levasser and his gang of amnesty if they broke with piracy and moved to Reunion. There were not enough people. Most, including La Buza, refused.

For the next six years, they continued to trade in the Indian Ocean, making their base a small island of Sainte-Marie. In 1730, the captain of the French ship "Medusa" deceived Levasseur into captivity and delivered him in chains to Reunion. Here the pirate appeared before the court, who sentenced him to hanging.

There were rumors that one of the members of the Council that ran the island, especially actively advocated the capture and execution of La Buza, as he intended to take possession of his wealth. If this is true, he was probably puzzled by what happened next.

The Secret of the Treasure

The execution took place in July 1730 on the main square of St. Paul, then the administrative center of the island. Before climbing the scaffold, the pirate threw a scrap of paper into the crowd of spectators, stating that his treasures would go to someone who could decipher the notes.

Skeptics consider this story a legend. Nevertheless, the cryptogram does exist. And for about three centuries the treasures of Olivier Levasser continue to stir the minds of treasure hunters of different countries. They can be understood, given the size of the booty seized by the pirates from the Portuguese in 1721. But this was only one of the episodes in the career of La Buza.

Be that as it may, Olivier Levasser's treasure continues to be found in the Indian Ocean islands not far from Madagascar these days. True, so far no one has correctly deciphered the cryptogram of a cunning pirate. Therefore, in the history of the treasures of La Buza, the point is still too early to set.

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