– PIRATES –
-> Pirates were people who attacked and robbed ships on all oceans of the world. They were sea robbers or bandits and have been called by many other names such as: buccaneers, corsairs, filibusters, freebooters, landrones, picaroons, and rovers. Pirates existed for about 200 years, from the 16th to the 18th century.
They used to attack and capture ships for the valuable cargo, leave their ships to break into homes in coastal towns, carry away valuables, take people to their ships by using force, and organize powerful groups to get large amounts of ransom, which was paid to free a captured person .
Probably most people have romantic ideas about pirates. The movies and some famous books such as Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson and Captain Blood by Rafael Sabatini have helped to create a romantic picture of pirates. The pirate in films and books is a cavalier, a good-looking gentleman, with a beard or moustache, gold earrings and a large hat or turban. He usually has a sword or a sharp dagger in his belt and a pistol or gun in his hand.
In reality, pirates were not romantic at all. Often they were desperate, violent and dangerous, people who drank a lot and dressed very badly in rags and wasted food and money. They were people who did not like the situation of their home society and, therefore, rebelled and fought against the government. The police looked for them everywhere because they were outlaws, i.e., people who committed crimes and hid from the authorities.
Most pirates did not live long.
A kind of democracy often existed among pirate groups. They elected, or chose their own captains and prepared rules and regulations to use when they were doing business.
During the 1600’s and 1700’s there was a lot of piracy along the American coasts and in the West Indies. The great treasure ships of Spain which carried gold and silver from Spanish colonies to Europe
were frequently attacked and the valuables were stolen by pirates.
But there were also times when the American government asked for the help of pirates. Many of the American pirates became privateers during the American War for independence. The pirate, Jean Lafitte, for instance, became a privateer and helped American military forces to protect New Orleans in the War of 1812.
Among the men, some famous pirate names in history are: Barbarossa, Ali Pichinin, Henry Morgan, Captain Kidd, “Black Bart” (Bartholomew Roberts), “Blackbeard” OSdward Teach) and among the women: Mary Read and Anne Bonney
Mary Read (left) and Anne Bonney (right)