Pirates’ life – nasty, brutish and short



The very existence of the piracy took its first breath when the first voyages occurred for the first time. The mystery and the terrifying role that the pirates occupied in people’s minds was almost poetic and was pliable by words of mouth, which were half-true, half-falsifications or just distant speculations.

For instance, many great leaders throughout the history tried to win the war against the piracy without much success, Alexander The Great made such an attempt to curb the piracy in the Mediterranean in 330 BC without avail. Moreover, in 78 BC the young Julius Caesar was captured in the island of Pharmacusa by pirates, just to be exchanged for ransom in a period of six weeks. In 67 BC, Pompey was strongly adamant not to tolerate such situation any more, he launched campaign against those ‘savages’ in which around ten thousand pirates were killed in the cost of Anatolia.

Until 17th century, pirates used only the galleys, but after the introduction of the sailing to them by Flemish renegade named Simon Danser , their straight and power intensified rapidly with high speed. The most dangerous and fearsome from them all, were the Algerian pirates, who were united by Khayr ad-Din widely known as Barbarossa. There were many attempts made by both Britain and France to stop those malice and to emancipate the seas from them, but in most of the time, the results were at least catastrophic and devastating.

On 29th May 1720, one ship named Samuel , in the waters of the North Atlantic, was leaving its port in London just to head to Boston. That ship was precious treasure indeed, with its a cargo of ironware,assorted goods in bales and trunks, and forty-five barrels of gunpowder. The crew was comprised only  of ten men, excluding the Captain Samuel Cary and another three passengers. On 13th July the ship was forty miles east of the Grand Banks of Newfoundland when another two ships were approaching from the distance. They were pirates, searching for new victim and a new object of plunder. As soon as they came up with the ship, they did not hesitate to rise fire and to wave the black flags.  Not only did the pirates were well-equipped with weapons to fight, but they outnumbered Samuel with the amount of men on each ship, Capitan Cary estimated that there were around hundred men on each of them.  Cary was told to abandon his ship and to come abroad the pirate ship where their captain Bartholomew Roberts had to meet him, and he did so as if he’d had another choice. After everything valuable was stolen from the ship and the rest was troweled overboard, it came down to the question of the ex-captain and his people. Eventually , as it was a long established tradition, all numbers of the crew were killed , but the captain and one Irish man was forced to join the pirates  in their new adventures. However, every rule has its own exception, during a heated discussion whether Samuel should be burned or sank, the pirates noticed a new ship coming out in the horizon and in that frenzy of events our Captain somehow managed to escape from the horrible hands of the pirates in order to reach Boston and to give report of his series of unfortunate events.

I could assure you that those circumstances were quite lucky for the poor captain as much more could have happened to him and to the ship, in short that was sheer happy ending .

However, the career and the life of pirate was not always the most foreseeable and predictable event, which might lie on the path of every men. That was the case of one Scottish man named William Kidd (1645 – 1701) whose passion for the sea voyages was inherited by his father who was a seaman. Kidd, at the very peak of his career, was responsible for protecting protect English ships in the Caribbean from French attacks during the war between them. In 1695, he returned to England in order to receive his payout for his duties as privateer, but the faith had another plans for him. He came up with a plant to attack the French ships and pirate vessels, after being financial backed by his new friend  Lord Bellomont. His voyage was granted with nothing, but failure due partly to the fact that almost half of the crew perished, another part was far from organized in order to accomplish such an action. In 1697, growing into the idea that his trip was merely a catastrophe, Kidd made a stopping point near Madagascar, famous shelter for many pirates across the Indian ocean. After that , he made his greatest mistake in his life, by attacking Indian company vessel, which was his passport to prison. From that point, he was pronounced a criminal and hanged on May 23, 1701. His body hung in a cage and left to rot as a warning against other pirates or men who might dare to do such thing. Some people said that the rope on which he was hanging broke twice and only on the third time Kidd died (such a shameful death).


What about the women?

While the men were slaughtered ruthlessly after the ship was attacked by pirates, the women did not reach better faith than being often thrown overboard like unwanted things. Sometimes, African women were given as a presents from someone else or they were captivated by the Captain of the ship by himself. Other women were even placed in much worse circumstances by being raped many times. For instance, one an American pirate Charles Gibbs recollected from his memory how once during an attack on one Dutch ship, everyone was killed, except on beautiful Dutch girl who was taken by force in one island near Cuba. She was their prisoner for two months, after which they decided to put her to death, poisoned her and throw her body in the ocean.

However, many European women were treated with respect, for example on board the Revenge there was long established rule which said that ‘If at any time we meet with a prudent woman, that man that offers to meddle with her, without her consent, shall suffer present death.’

Many people hold the opinion that a woman could not be a pirate and they sniffed in disbelief when someone rise that question as if it was equivalent to absurdity.

One of the most famous pirates in the history was a woman and her name is Anne Bonny. She was born from love affair between a maid and English lawyer , around 1700 in Cork,Ireland. As a result, her father and her mother fled to America in order to avoid some scandalous reputation. However, Anne was supposed to marry some deceint gentleman, but when she chose James Bonny, poor as a mouse sailor, her father did not make an attempt to conceal his discontent and immediately disinherited her. Anne and her future husband set up to New Providence, where little by little she lost respect for him and did not miss an opportunity to indulge herself in different pleasures. If she was not pregnant (probably around 1719), she might have persuaded her life as a pirate even much more earlier. After that she met two of people of her future crew (“Calico Jack” Rackham and Mary Read), which by 1720 came up from the world of obscurity, just to became famous for its savages and brutality. All across the Caribbeans , everyone knew their names and they were eventually captured and sentenced to death.

On November, before the executions to take place, Rackham was allowed to see Bonny and she said to him only this ‘”I’m sorry to see you here, but if you had fought like a man you need not have hanged like a dog.” However, Bonny and Mary were not killed, due to the fact that they, both were pregnant, but Mary died in prison five months later. What happened to Anne, nobody could verify with certainty as her story stopped there, and the tail got cold.







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