François l'Ollonois

Pirates in Panama History

François l'Ollonois, aka. Jean-David Nau was from Sables d'Ollone, France, He is known as one of the cruelest pirate that ever sailed the Spanish Main. He is reported to once, beheading 70 Spaniards with his sword, and sending the heads to the governor of Nombre de Diós, in a natives cayuca. He tortured and butchered both men and women, with no regard for who he killed. It is said that at one time, while in Panama, he sliced open a woman's chest, cut our her heart, while she was still alive, and ate it while it was still beating. He then washed it down with a cup of her blood.

He was very much unlike most of the buccaneers that visited Tierra Firme, and the coast of Panama, that befriended the Indians and the escaped Cimarron slaves. l'Ollonois attacked the Indians and stole food and gold from them. He would torture the natives and kill some of them, with the expectation that the next time, they would fear him, and submit to all of his demands. He so antagonized the natives, that they would not help him, and avoided him.

In 1667, he attacked a Spanish Galleon, as it was leaving Porto Bello, that unknown to him, was loaded with veteran soldiers, returning home. In the battle, most of the pirates were killed or wounded. L'Ollonois was also wounded in the battle, and was able to escape, with some of his men, when they retreated in their ships pinnace. The Spanish Captain, put some men on board l'Ollonois' ship, and they sailed her back to Porto Bello, while he continued on to Spain.

L'Ollonois and the few survivors landed on the coast of Darien, and again threaten the Indians, if the would not feed and house the pirates. Realizing the predicament the pirates were in, and that they did not have any weapons, the Indians turn on them. All of the pirates were killed and l'Ollonois, who was really hated by the natives, was hacked into pieces, put on the spit, roasted, and eaten.

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Bruce C. Ruiz
September 20, 2002