Teaching Students About Port Royal
Port Royal, once known as the “Wickedest City on Earth,” has a rich and fascinating history that deserves to be explored by students of all ages. Nestled at the southeastern end of Jamaica, Port Royal was once a bustling hub of activity, boasting pirates, privateers, and a booming maritime economy. As educators, bringing this captivating piece of history to life in the classroom can spark students’ imaginations and help them better understand the world they live in today.
Introducing Port Royal to Students
Begin by giving your students an overview of Port Royal’s historical significance. Explain that during the 17th century, Port Royal was one of the largest and wealthiest cities in the Caribbean, thanks to its strategic location along popular trade routes. It quickly became a haven for pirates and privateers who would attack enemy ships passing by on their way to Europe.
It is important for students to grasp the difference between pirates and privateers. Pirates were outlaws who stole, plundered, and committed acts of violence without government sanction. Privateers, on the other hand, had government authorization to attack enemy ships during times of war.
Infamous persons such as Sir Henry Morgan made Port Royal their home. Morgan began as a privateer but went on to become one of history’s most notorious pirates.
Port Royal’s Wealth and Corruption
Discuss with your students how Port Royal’s wealth led to widespread corruption among its citizens. The city was infamous for its drinking establishments, brothels, and debauchery. Emphasize that while some sought great fortune, many others suffered from poverty and disease due to these excesses.
The Tragic Earthquake of 1692
Port Royal’s wickedness was said to be punished when a devastating earthquake struck in 1692, causing much of the city to sink beneath the sea. Discuss with students how natural disasters can have a long-lasting impact on communities, and consider holding a debate on whether the earthquake was truly divine retribution for Port Royal’s sins or simply an unfortunate event.
Archaeology and Preservation
For a hands-on element, introduce students to the field of archaeology and its role in uncovering Port Royal’s secrets. Share with them how underwater excavations continue to reveal artifacts that shed light on the daily lives of Port Royal’s inhabitants. Encourage students to explore careers in archaeology, history, and other related fields.