In the 17th century it was often raided by buccaneers, notably in 1606, when it was completely sacked.
At this period the power of the buccaneers was at its height.
The buccaneers or filibusters, who during the 17th century were drawn to the West Indies by the prospect of plundering the possessions of decadent Spain, often invaded Porto Rico, but that island escaped the conquest which Haiti experienced.
Matanzas is frequently mentioned in the annals of the 16th and 17th centuries, when its bay was frequented by buccaneers; but the city was not laid out until 1693.
But the buccaneers or pirates who had made their retreat here offered heavy opposition; in 1680 there was an attack by the Spaniards, and in July 1703 the French and Spaniards made a descent on New Providence, blew up the fort, spiked the guns, burnt the church and carried off the governor, with the principal inhabitants, to Havana.