When yesterday I began to talk about Skull & Bones and began to dig up memories of my childhood and adolescence, fascinated by the world of piratesthere was a memory that came back to my mind with the power of a galleon.
The name of an unknown pirate who became the perfect excuse to mount one of the craziest marketing maneuvers that the video game industry in Spain has given us: when Ubisoft exhumed the remains of a Spanish pirate to promote Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag.
A game of Anglo-Saxon pirates
We are in 2013, the new installment of the Assassin’s Creed of Ubisoft is just around the corner and, how could it be otherwise, the creators of the game have cemented the plot between English-speaking heroes and villains despite the fact that the Latin branch of assaults on the high seas was equally or more important.
Although they are aware that their collections would not reach the game in any way, since Ubisoft Spain they begin to investigate possible actions they could take to bring black-flag to our lands with something more than the typical promotional actions. And searching through the available information, they come up with a name that leaves them surprised: Amaro Snapper.
As in the history of the game, the one who was a pirate first and then a corsair under the protection of Felipe V, is one of those names that have remained in the shadow of the Anglo-Saxon story despite rubbing shoulders in fame, fortune and terror with others famous pirates like blackbeard either Sir Francis Drake (yes, the one from Uncharted).
If no one knew his name despite being one of the most famous pirates of the time, recovering Pargo’s story and telling the world about his legend seemed like the perfect excuse to promote the game with more than just commercial actions. Ubisoft was willing to place the mythical Tenerife pirate in his rightful place.
The history of Amaro Pargo
Born in 1678, Amaro Snapper he was more merchant than piratebut his good skills as a strategist and courage as a captain in the Carrera de Indias soon placed him in a prominent position among the king’s men.
Although no documents have been found that certify that he received the Patent of corsothe document that granted the necessary authority to attack enemy ships and towns to non-military vessels, it is known that he acted as a corsair capturing enemy ships and their cargo.
Devoted and rooted in his land, the great fortune he reaped from trade and the sale of stolen ships was dedicated to improving living conditions. Tenerife through farms, housing for the most needy and religious donations for the education and maintenance of the most disadvantaged children.
From his humble but brave reality he passed to the legend caused by those who took advantage of his fame to tell stories and, from there, to be considered one of the most emblematic characters of Canarian culture.
The exhumation of Amaro Pargo
In November 2013, just a few weeks after the launch of the game, a team of archaeologists and forensic scientists from the Autonomous University of Madrid arrived in San Cristóbal de la Laguna with a mission: to exhume the remains of Amaro Snapperperform DNA tests and find out as much as possible about their history.
sponsored by Ubisoftthe experts open the tomb of Pargo and find inside not only the remains of the pirate, but also close relatives, his servant and several bodies of unrelated newborns who were probably placed there under the belief that the baptized Christians buried in the same sepulcher could save them from limbo by guiding them to heaven.
Becoming a kind of Robin Hood for his community in Tenerife, the story of Amaro Snapper and the legend of the loot that he buried on the island is still better known there than in the rest of the world -which is why the remains of what was his home have been looted to the point of leaving it in ruins-, but at least this action allowed his name carried a little further.
We will probably continue to hear much more the name of blackbeard that of Amaro Snapperbut surely the next time corsairs and buccaneers are discussed, you will fondly remember the man from Tenerife who managed to stand up to the most mythical of pirates.