The Truth About Pirates

Pirates are EVERYWHERE. From children’s TV shows to buttons, they pop up all the time, sometimes when you least expect them. But has the modern era twisted and stretched the truth about pirates too much?

Piracy is the practice of attacking and robbing ships at sea. The Golden Age of Piracy spanned from about the1650s to the 1730s. This was a time when pirates ruled the sea. They would plunder, steal, murder, and show no mercy. The Golden Age of Piracy was caused mostly by the rising quantities of valuable cargo shipped overseas to Europe. Then some genius thought “HEY! What if we took this unprotected, valuable stuff!“, and the age of piracy began.

Interestingly, pirates could come from all walks of life. Many Chinese people became pirates if they were shunned or disowned from their family after committing a crime. There were also many Europeans that became pirates, because they were poor and it was an easy living. Also, some very rich people wanted to be pirates so that they could enhance their dress sense by putting feathers in their hats and wearing velvet boots. Pirates were feared, and many Chinese pirates used that to their advantage: because they were foreign Europeans liked to stay away from them.

Regularly, if women wanted to be pirates, they would have to disguise themselves as men. But not Ching Shih. She was a Chinese pirate who is thought to be the most successful (and feared) pirate of the Eastern seas. She was kidnapped by pirates when very young, and ended up marrying a notorious pirate named Cheng I. She went on to have an entire fleet of pirate ships, and be the most rich and scary pirate in the world at that time.

Another infamous pirate was Blackbeard. His real name was Edward Thatch, or Edward Teach. He captured a French merchant’s vessel, named it the Queen Anne’s Revenge, and equipped her with 40 guns. He was a very famous pirate, and he is still feared today. He, as his name suggests, had a thick black beard, and a fearsome, strong stature.

The thing about a-good-pirate-never-takes-another-persons-propertypirates, however, is that their story has been twisted and turned into something ridiculous. This is a picture from a book by Disney, and as you can see, that is exactly what a BAD pirate does. Pirates have been turned into something silly for the media, when in actuality, they were terrifying in their time.

Every pirate stole. Every pirate plundered. Almost every pirate killed, and for this, their deaths were gruesome. Some of the deaths that caught pirates had to face were:

  • Public hanging – pretty much what it sounds like
  • Gibbets – chained up vertically, hanging from a board, killed, and displayed
  • Tortured to death – again, exactly what is sounds like
  • Being left in a cage to die of thirst – the idea is in the name

Summed up, pirates were ruthless, dirty, killing machines. Society has warped them, but some of us still know the truth. The Golden Age Of Piracy is over, but the remnants of pirates have been turned into children’s TV show characters, not the terrifying scourge of the seas they once were.