Aye matey! …. What are you doing? Get yer eyes of me gold or I’ll run ye up da plank! Ever imagine yourself as a cold, calculating pirate? I know I have — fantasies about ruling the seas and taking over all that travels across her. Hey, all guys have that hidden bad boy inside them. Here are 10 stories of pirates – both male and female – that are sure to shiver yer timbers.
1. Ali Bitchin, I’m not making that up; that was really his name, was a renegade – a Christian who converted to Islam and built a mosque in Casbah that bears his name still today. When he was 10, he was among a group of people captured in 1578 by the King of Algiers. He was then bought as a slave and learned privateering, and eventually took command of the Algerian Navy and reigned supreme over the Mediterranean. As a pirate, he was liked and admired, but he was also very much feared, attacking ships even bigger than his own and taunting his enemies in doing so. He and his crews would capture Christian slaves and he was said to have more than 500 all-white slaves. His many sea attacks landed him a great deal of wealth. Dude! That’s just bitchin’.
2. Edward Teach was better known as Blackbeard. He had a big image to uphold, so before each battle he would dress himself all in black and topped it off with a very large black captain’s hat. He strapped up many pistols to his chest and would even ignite slow-burning fuses in his hair and beard to give him an incredibly spooky look. The sputtering fuses gave off smoke and he looked like he was emerging from an eerie fog. Just by looking at him, most of his sea victims surrendered their cargo immediately, feeling that they were on the short end of the stick with the devil. Eventually, however, he was killed and left with five bullet wounds and 20 sword plunges on his body. His head was cut off and saved to collect a bounty and his body was tossed into the sea. Legend has it that his body swam around the ship three times before sinking.
3. Ching Shih was a Cantonese prostitute in Guangzhou before being captured by pirates and eventually marrying one of them. She quickly rose to leadership herself in the early 19th century and eventually was in command of between 20,000 and 40,000 pirates who were men, women and children. She made attacks on the British, Portuguese and the Qing dynasty, and if any of her crew gave her any crap, they were beheaded on the spot. And she had a rule on sex with female captives; if you were caught raping one, you were put to death; if it was discovered the sex was consensual, the pirate was beheaded and the woman would have cannonballs attached to her legs and was thrown overboard. You just didn’t screw around with THIS pirate chick. As it turns out, Ching Shih was one of the few pirates to actually retire from her occupation.
4. For 13 years, Jeanne de Clisson swashbuckled the seas in the 14th century. Before all that fun, she married a man named Olivier, but when his loyalties to King Phillip VI were questioned, he was captured and tried for treason. On Aug. 2, 1343, he was beheaded and his head was put atop a pole and displayed outside the castle of Bouffay. Needless to say, Jeanne was pissed and swore vengeance against the king and Charles de Blois, the man who spread the rumors about her husband. So she sold her properties and rounded up a small force of men and attacked French forces in Brittany. She then bought three warships and had everything on them painted black. She would attack and kill entire crews but leave one to go to the king and tell him she and the Black Fleet had struck again. With this, she became known as “The Lioness of Brittany.” Although she was not able to take out personal vengeance on the king and de Blois before both died, she caused substantial damage to their sea forces. She remarried in 1356 and retired from her pirate ways.
5. Jean Lafitte was a French-American pirate in the early 19th century in the Gulf of Mexico. He captured ships and smuggled stolen goods into New Orleans. And he was definitely a Billy Jean bad ass. Once, when the Louisiana governor offered $300 for his capture (hey, 300 bucks was a LOT back then) Lafitte himself offered $1,000 for the governor’s capture. King George III promised Lafitte citizenship if he joined the British forces, but, if not, he would shred his Louisiana island to pieces. Lafitte did what any good pirate would do and scoffed at the proposal, warning the Americans that the Brits were coming. But future president Andrew Jackson stepped in and solved the issue, stating that the authorities would release Lafitte’s captured men if he agreed to assist the U.S. Navy. As history goes, this probably helped America from being taken over.
6. Stephen Decatur. If you don’t recognize that name as one would associate with a scoundrel pirate, it’s probably for good reason. Decatur was actually a highly respected U.S. Navy officer and the youngest ever to reach the rank of captain back in the early 1800s. When the USS Philadelphia was captured by pirates, Decatur gathered a group of men and attacked them with swords. They captured the crew and set the ship on fire so the pirates couldn’t use it. Admiral Horatio Nelson called it “the most bold and daring act of the age.” While returning from seizing another ship, Decatur learned his brother had been shot while fighting pirates. He immediately turned and chased the enemy ship. He boarded the vessel in an attack and went straight for the man who shot his brother, killing him. The rest of the crew quickly surrendered. Decatur and his crew had killed 33 pirates that day. Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum.
7.William Kidd was hired by European royals to attack foreign ships in the Indian Ocean. In 1698, the Scottish-born Kidd spotted the Quedagh Merchant ship rounding the tip of India. It was too good to be true, as the ship carried an incredible amount of gold, silk, spices and other riches, most of which were owned by a minister of the Indian Grand Moghul. The minister was incensed and demanded retribution. With the help of the East India Company, which was an influential English trading firm, and other governments, Kidd became a wanted criminal. He was captured and convicted of his crimes. On May 23, he was hanged. It was a very grisly affair as the noose broke twice before the third hanging killed him. His body was then covered in tar and he was hung by chains and displayed near the Thames River.
8.In the mid-1600s, Henry Morgan, an admiral of the Royal Navy, became well known as a ruthless pirate and privateer, launching attacks in the Caribbean. In 1669, he raided wealthy Spanish settlements on the Venezuelan coast. The next year, armed with 36 ships and 2,000 buccaneers, he captured Panama and burned the city to the ground while his men looted it. On the return trip, however, he ducked out on the rest of his crew, taking most of the booty. He was captured but in 1674 King Charles II knighted him and sent him out as deputy governor of Jamaica. He retired there and lived as a wealthy man until his death in 1688. In 1944, the Seagram Company used his name to manufacture the rum we all know as “Captain Morgan.”
9.I know we’ve discussed a couple of them already, but Anne Bonney and Mary Read were two of the most ferocious female pirates in history. Anne was disgusted with her first husband turned informant on pirates after the King offered pardons to those who did. She then fell in love with the swagger of pirate Captain Jack Rackham. She disguised herself as a male and sailed with him, attacking Spanish treasure ships near Cuba. She retired from piracy only long enough to have a baby and leave it with friends before rejoining Capt. Jack and her sea adventures.
Mary Read used to disguise herself as a man for many years to make financial ends meet. She realized life was much easier for men and went to sea as one on a Dutch merchant ship on its way to the Carribean. When her ship was taken over by Capt. Jack Rackham, she joined them and resorted to piracy. She fell in love with man and saved him in a duel when she intervened and shot the other man to death.
Both Anne and Mary were known for sharing violent tempers and ferocious fighting skills. They were called “fierce hell cats” and their crews described them as ruthless and blood thirsty.
10.Bartholomew Roberts, more recognizably known as Black Bart, was a tremendous threat to ships sailing off the Americas and West Africa in the early and mid-1700s, which has been deemed the Golden Age of Piracy. Black Bart once quietly came up to and boarded a ship in a Portuguese fleet and humbly asked the master which of the ships was carrying the most loot. After the master told him, Bart retreated to his own ship and attacked the loot-filled vessel before anyone knew what was going on. From 1719 to 1722, Black Bart captured and looted more than 400 ships, terrorizing all ships from Newfoundland to Brazil and the Caribbean and African coast. His fleet was always between two and four ships and his victims almost always surrendered quickly.
That’s all for today. Who was your favorite pirate? Let us know in the comments section below. Don’t forget to like us and be sure to subscribe for more stories like this. Aye… ye scallywag. Get addicted to the good stuff.