7 Facts You Never Knew About Pirates
Pirates have captured the imaginations of children and storytellers for generations. The enduring personas of these swashbuckling scallywags have taken root in both fairytales and adult fiction.
Their cutlasses have slashed through epic novels and major motion pictures; their ships have sailed across theater stages and video games. Costume stores sell their clothes and sports teams proudly bear their name. There is even a day in September devoted to talking like a pirate.
Captain Jack Sparrow, Captain Hook, Long John Silver, these characters are all based on a romanticized rogue who is ruthless, cunning, and positively dashing in a toe-to-toe scrap. They can charm their way out of the noose, devise breathtaking rescues, and rob a victim with the finesse of a schooner sailing through water.
But, in reality the lives of most of these ocean marauders wasn’t nearly as pretty or audacious as the story books say.
- In truth the life of a pirate was arduous and short. They performed grueling labor, lived in damp and uncomfortable surroundings, and ate stale food most of the time.
- Many died from diseases like smallpox, scurvy, dysentery, and typhus.
- Some crews paid compensation for lost limbs and serious injuries. For example, on one ship a crew member could receive 600 silver pieces and a slave for a losing his right arm.
- Although piracy had been around for centuries, its Golden Age ranged from 1650 to 1720.
- For the most part women were forbidden on pirate ships but there were some who boldly took up the profession. Three well-known female pirates were Anne Bonny, Mary Read, Grace O’Malley, and Madame Cheng.
- Despite the safety hazards of being a pirate, many had very colorful names. A few of the most memorable pirate aliases include: Blackbeard, Calico Jack, Edward England, Black Bart and Long Ben.
- They also went out of their way to impress their victims and other pirates. It is believed Black Bart wore exotic feathers and silk. As a scare tactic, Blackbeard fashioned burning matches to the end of his beard and under his hat, so that a cloud of smoke encircled his face.
The rational person in me can say without hesitation I would never want to be a pirate; the writer thinks they make a wonderful addition to any epic sea saga.