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Thursday, 2 March 2017



Famed Frisian rebel leader and pirate Pier Gerlofs Donia (ca. 1480–1520) could behead multiple people with a single blow from his 7-ft (2.15 m) sword.

The pirate Hayreddin "Red beard" Barbarossa (1478-1546) was exiled from so many countries that he ended up starting his own country (Regency of Algiers) with the blessing of The Ottoman Empire.

The 16th-century Irish pirate Gráinne Mhaol was said to be so fiery that she once defended her ship from invaders a day after giving birth.

Captain Morgan was a real pirate, who made a name for himself looting Spanish settlements. Henry Morgan sacked and burned the city of Panama in 1671 – the second most important city in the Spanish New World at the time.

Notorious pirate William Kidd was hanged twice on May 23, 1701 (the rope having snapped the first time) and his body gibbeted in the Thames for three tides as a warning to would-be buccaneers. The stolen booty on his ship allegedly included jewels worth £30,000 — around £10 million ($15 million) today.

Captain Kidd in New York Harbor, ca. 1920 painting by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris

Edward Teach was born in Bristol in 1680. Known for his luxuriant beard, he was nicknamed Blackbeard. His flagship was known as Queen Anne's Revenge.

Blackbeard weaved hemp in his hair and beard and set fire to it to frighten enemies.

After notorious acts of piracy along the American coast, Blackbeard was killed in a sea battle off the coast of North Carolina with a boarding party led by Royal Navy Lieutenant Robert Maynard on November 22, 1718. His head was mounted on the bowsprit of the ship that defeated him.

Capture of the Pirate, Blackbeard, 1718, Jean Leon Gerome Ferris, painted in 1920

"Black Sam" Bellamy (1689-1717) is considered the most successful western pirate even, plundering an estimated $120 million in his career.

Mary Read from England (1685–1721), also known as Mark Read and Anne Bonny from Ireland (unknown, possibly 1697 – unknown, possibly April 1782) were two of the most famed female pirates of all time. They discovered each others' real genders (both were disguising themselves as men) when Bonny told Read that she was attracted to her, causing Read to reveal herself as a female as well.

When Louisiana governor William Claiborne offered in 1813 a $500 bounty for pirate Jean Lafitte, Lafitte offered $5,000 for the capture of the governor.

The most successful pirate of all time was a Chinese prostitute called Ching Shih (1775-1844). She commanded over 1,800 ships and around 20,000-40,000 other pirates. She fought off the Chinese, British, and Portuguese navies—and was never captured. Ching Shih was one of the few pirates to actually retire.

Ching Shih

The first Governor of the Bahamas was a former pirate named Woodes Rogers (ca. 1679 – July 15, 1732).

When a North Korean cargo vessel MV Dai Hong Dan was attacked by Somali pirates on October 29, 2007, an American destroyer came to their aid. This event led to rare pro US statements from the North Korean media.

Dai Hong Dan


The earliest documented instances of piracy were in the 14th century BC, when the Sea Peoples, a group of ocean raiders, attacked the ships of the Aegean and Mediterranean civilization

A "buccaneer" raided Spanish colonies and ships along the American coast in the 17th century, while a "pirate" is any seafaring criminal.

Centuries ago many pirates pierced their ears and wore earrings because they believed it improved their vision.

Pirates wore eye patches to have one eye adjusted for the top deck and the other already adjusted for the darkness when going below deck.

The black pirate flag known as the "Jolly Roger" was originally a bright red French "surrender-or-die" banner known as the "Jolie Rouge."

The traditional "Jolly Roger" of piracy.

In the 1700s, a pirate ship with a black flag meant that if a vessel surrendered its goods, the pirates were willing to spare its crew.

Pirates assessed another ship by looking at its jib—a sail on the boat’s forwardmost mast—hence the phrase "I like the cut of your jib."

Pirates spent their loot as soon as they got it, on account of their short lives—there are only a few documented cases of buried treasure.

The word "piracy" has been used for copyright breaking since 1700.

The actor Robert Newton is best remembered for his portrayal of Long John Silver in the 1950 film adaptation of Treasure Island, the film that became the standard for screen portrayals of historical pirates. Hailing from the West Country, his exaggeration of his West Country accent is credited with popularizing the stereotypical "pirate voice." Newton was the first actor to employ the phrase "Arrrrh, matey!"

Newton and Linda Darnell in Blackbeard the Pirate (1952).
There is little evidence that pirates ever made their enemies walk the plank.

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