Who doesn’t want a pirate’s life? I am not talking about the rogue Somalians who rob cargo and fishing vessels at gunpoint, like it was shown in the movie Captain Phillips. I am talking about the real pirates of the 16th century we all fell in love with after watching the Pirates of the Caribbean movies.
It might be misleading to talk about pirates in a good light, as if they were the Queen’s Guard. We all know pirates were ruthless criminals who preyed on the weak and killed anyone who got in their way. Some folklores even suggest that they were so evil that the devil himself spat them out!
Still, there is something exciting about pirates and their life. It could be their atypical appearance—the eye-patch, peg leg, hook hand, and tricorne—that has become the hallmark of Halloween parties today. Or it could be the way they lived life: by the code of brethren, without any fear, and inviting mysterious stories in their wake. No wonder many wish to be like Captain Jack Sparrow, the pirate who led a life of adventure. To feed your fascination, Soulveda brings you the stories of the five most notorious pirates who lived glorious lives at sea.
Blackbeard, a legend among outlaws
Blackbeard was an English pirate who was hailed as the strongest and most feared of all time. He was popular for his unusual appearances during raids: he used smoke fuses in his long beard and his hair made him look like a demon from hell. His spooky appearance made winning fights rather easy for him.
Blackbeard had a fleet of three sloops, commanded by the flagship Queen Anne’s Revenge, and over 100 pirates, ready to kill anyone on their captain’s command.
To some, Blackbeard was a merciless pirate who would send sloops to the bottom of the sea, even when the enemies have yielded. ‘Scourge of the seven seas’, he was called. But, the ordinary people of Britain saw Blackbeard as a hero who fought against a corrupt and tyrannical government. According to historians, even his enemies respected him for his just nature. In several eye-witness accounts, there is not a single mention of him killing any pirate who yielded to him. Rather, it is said he would add them to his crew for a fat pay.
Anne Bonny, the woman pirate on the sly
Anne Bonny was born in a modest Irish family that owned a small plantation business. She grew up learning the business from her father, but she wasn’t happy. She craved adventure, thrill and uncertainty. So, when James Bonny, a young pirate asked for her hand in marriage, she saw it as an opportunity to escape her mundane life.
Anne married James Bonny and moved to a pirate haven called Nassau in the Bahamas. Her dream of living an adventurous life, without any fear of tomorrow, became a reality. But her whole world came crashing down when she found out that James was a ‘bilge rat’, a traitor who passed information about the whereabouts and the raid plans of the pirates to the governor.
Anne left James and joined the crew of a famous pirate called Calico Jack, disguised as a man—women were prohibited aboard a sloop. There, she became a fierce fencer who never shied away from a fight; no matter how big the opponent was. Later, she fell in love with Jack’s lieutenant, who turned out to be Mary Read, another courageous woman impersonating a man to live the pirate life.
In his first two years as a pirate captain, Roberts captured around 400 vessels off the coast of West Africa, Canada and the Caribbean.