Henry Morgan is today remembered as one of the most ruthless and notorious pirates and buccaneers who devastated Spanish ships and colonies in the area of Central America. During his active career between 1663 and 1674 he gathered substantial wealth and political standing in England and after the end of the hostilities toward Spain he retired and spent the remainder of his life as a governor of Jamaica.
Henry was born around 1635 as a son of the f Robert Morgan, a squire of Llanrumney in the Welsh county of Monmouthshire. There is not much information about his early life, until he reached Jamaica in 1658 and when he left his school in 1665. Some historical records claim that he was a part of an English force that managed to conquer Jamaica (although he was too young to be a soldier then, and was most likely just a passenger to the lands of the Indies). With the help of his uncle who was Edward Morgan was Lieutenant-Governor of Jamaica, Henry married his cousin Mary and joined English military fleet that was under the command of Christopher Myngs in 1663. Under a supervision of John Morris he successfully raided Spanish settlements of Vildemos, Trujillo and Granada. Toward the end of 1665 Morgan commanded a ship that was a part of Edward Mansfield privateer fleet. After the Mansfield became captured and executed by the Spanish, privateers elected Morgan to be the admiral of their fleet (this was later confirmed by his official rank of vice-admiral of the Jamaican fleet).
His first great challenge happened in 1668 when increased Spanish presence in Cuba became a threat to the England. Morgan and his fleet of 10 ships and 500 sailors were commanded to attack Spanish, and they did so with great success. However, plunder that was collected in those raids was not impressive, and large portions of Henry's army became demoralized. In an attempt to secure treasure for his troops, Morgan devised a plant to attack Spanish port of Puerto Bello. This well-guarded town proved to be tough battlefield for English buccaneers. After securing two of the three fort towers, Morgan devised a plant of using captured Spanish nuns and priests as a human shield in his final attack. This tactics proved to be successful, and he managed to collect impressive 250,000 pieces of eight from that raid.
This marked only the beginning of his notorious career. In 1669 he commanded fleet of 8 ships and 650 sailors who successfully raided and massacred the citizens of Spanish city of Marcaibo. A year later he launched his most ambitious plan - raid of the Panama with the impressive force of 30 ships and 1200 buccaneers. After conquering the fort at San Lorenzo he and his army traveled on foot through the tough jungle terrain that surrounded Panama. Although exhausted from hard journey, Henry Morgan managed to defeat Spanish forces that waited for his arrival. After his raid, city was left destroyed and ruined.
Unknowingly to Henry Morgan, Spain and England managed to secure peace between each other, and English military promptly arrested Morgan and returned him to London. Because of his high standings and reputation he was not punished in any way, but was commanded to retire from naval career. He then went to Jamaica where he lived peacefully and served as a Governor until 1688.