On a clear day, below the blue skies, deep into the waters of the Caribbean sea, a military ship was seen sailing towards the southeast coast of Jamaica. Trinity Royal was an English ship moving fast, creating a pattern of gigantic waves as it sailed through the sea currents. The hull-shaped ship was one of the best English navy warships. It was an 80-gun ship-of-line with ornate stern carvings.
On the wooden deck of Trinity Royal, an English soldier was standing alone and looking at the far land seen at the end of the Caribbean.
“Captain, what are you doing here alone?” a lieutenant commander came up to him, bowed his head and asked.
“Murphy!” the captain accepted his greetings and replied, “looking at that wicked city out there: Port Royal.”
Lieutenant Commander Jake Murphy looked at the far land his captain was pointing at in confusion.
“What about it, sir?”
Captain Connor Byrne smiled. Today, he was sailing toward the city as the captain of the Trinity Royal and the 600 navy men on board. But it wasn’t always the same.
“I once travelled as a Lieutenant to take over that city”, Connor replied.
Connor understood Jake’s confusion and explained, “You see, Murphy, Port Royal was not always an English city. The Spanish first colonized the region. They found the city in the 1500s while sailing through the Caribbean and thought it was an ideal place to repair their boats in the middle of a sea journey. They converted a mere fishing port into a harbour when they colonized the city. They built a few timber houses near the seashore to refit the boats and ships. But they were stupid to leave the rest of the city unattended.”
“Why did we think about taking over the city then?”
“It was Commander Smith who realized the importance of the city and its location back then in the 1630s. The city’s location was a strategic jewel in the Caribbean – an important sea route for us. Commander Smith proposed to take over the region and covert it into a mercantile and navy hub.”
“How did we take over then?” Jake was now interested in knowing more about the city; how it was built to what it is today.
We attacked the city and took it over in 1655. But it wasn’t an easy job building the city. The city was surrounded by the Spanish fleet and had many Spanish colonies. Commander Smith invited the Buccaneers to the city. They protected the new English colonies and used them as a base to plunder the Spanish colonies.
The ship was now only a few metres away from the harbour. Everyone on board was preparing to get off the ship.
“Come, I will show you around”, Connor said.
Once the ship was anchored in the harbour, the two men got down and started moving towards the city. Jake saw a massive fortification wall surrounding the entire city. There were multiple stone forts built at intervals to protect the city. The British Royal flag was hoisted in glory on the fort’s walls.
“How many forts protect the city?” Jake asked.
“Six armed forts within which the city grows: a total of 51 acres of land. The city is the headquarters of the British Royal Navy in the Caribbean, hence the protection and amenities. We even have a naval hospital and a dockyard beside the harbour”, Connor replied.
Jake turned around to take a look at the harbour. The day had just begun, but it was already busy on the harbour. Ships and boats were coming, and goods were either loaded into them or unloaded. The day’s trading had already begun, and men were already at work. He had heard Port Royal was a formidable city; the main export hub for expensive goods, supplies and raw materials. This was the first time he was seeing it work.
At some distance, he saw a vast dockyard. Prominent royal and commercial ships were being refitted; parts of the ships were being changed. Just beside it was an old Georgian building, the naval hospital. Some naval officers were going into the hospital for their regular checkups.
“After we took over Port Royal and transformed it into a commercial centre, cash started flowing in. Due to its prime location, the harbour and dockyard of Port Royal are important stops for refitting ships and for trading commodities like sugar, logwood and slaves. The city’s development has put it in the middle of a lucrative trade system”, Connor said.
The two men now walked towards the huge fort gate that marked the city’s entrance. The iron gates of the fort were opened, and they walked in through a big stone archway into the city.
The main street that connected the fort to the city centre was a paved limestone street. The street was lined with buildings on both sides. Most of them were multi-storied brick or timber structures with plastered floors. Even though they were compact and not luxuriously built, they were well built, with multiple rooms in each building.
“Watch out”, Connor pulled Jae out of the way. A drunk pirate was walking directly towards him with a knife in his hand.
This was when Jake noticed that though the streets were lined with houses and shops, every one of the four buildings surrounding them was either a bar or a brothel. Drunk men with weapons and prostitutes were moving freely on the street. It took some time for Jake to understand that this was how the entire city was.
Connor motioned him to keep moving towards the city centre. As they walked on the lime street, between the archways, every once in a while, they reached the city centre. It was a vibrant and colourful place in the centre of the city. Jake was in awe with what he saw.
The city centre was lined with multiple markets. Some sold raw sea fishes and had numerous inns and pubs around them where people could dit the entire day. Other streets and markets sold artefacts and luxurious items. The city had multicultural occupants, and the citizens consumed a large number of luxurious items. Everything from books, silver, spices, porcelain and fine cloth could be found in Port Royal’s markets.
“It is a true consumerist world brought to life after we took it over from the Spanish. This city is now the centre of English life – the Pompeii of the Caribbean”, Connor said.
“Why did you call it the wickedest city in the world then, captain?”
“If you don’t have control over your head, wickedness is a product of richness. Look around you, Murphy! Every street in the city is filled with bars and brothels. The rich and the pirates come here to live luxuriously. Wine and women consume a large amount of wealth. The city’s economy partially runs on alcohol, slave trades and prostitution. While the city has bought a good amount of trade and economy to the British Kingdom, it is also the most corrupt city of the kingdom. The city is famous for its torture and horrific incidents. Though the city has a cathedral and a few churches, people barely visit them. Port Royal has now become a refuge for rebellion”, Connor replied.
Jake pondered upon what his captain had just said. He now understood what his captain meant when he said richness out of control led to wickedness. When the British took over the city and developed it, they thought of bringing glory to their kingdom. Unfortunately, it was this glory that was eating away the city. There was no control in the city; it was madmen’s rule. And a city without control will definitely meet its end at some point!