But for an English trade, which sprang up out of the halfsmuggling, half-buccaneering enterprise of the Bristol merchants, the island would have fared badly, for during the whole of the 15th century their trade with England, exporting sulphur, eiderdown (of which the English taught them the value), wool, and salt stock-fish, and importing as before wood, iron, honey, wine, grain and flax goods, was their only link with the outer world.
England at any rate would have had no valid ground of complaint if the leaders of a buccaneering force had been summarily dealt with by the Transvaal authorities.
For buccaneering had now become a most profitable employment, operations were extended, and a storehouse secure from the attacks of the Spaniards was required.
Norse pirates having made the islands the headquarters of their buccaneering expeditions indifferently against their own Norway and the coasts and isles of Scotland; Harold Haarfager ("Fair Hair") subdued the rovers in 875 and both the Orkneys and Shetlands to Norway.
From this point of vantage he began depredations on the Red Sea (1182), building a fleet, and seeking to attack Medina and Mecca - a policy which may be interpreted either as mere buccaneering, or as a calculated attempt to deal a blow at Mahommedanism in its very centre.