Pirates: Real Life Tidbits

Piracy and privateering dates back to the 14th Century BC. A group of ocean raiders known as the Sea Peoples were the first known pirates that attacked ships from the Aegean and Mediterranean civilizations. Privateering uses similar methods to piracy. However, the main difference is that the captain is operating under orders from the state in order to capture ships belonging to an enemy nation. The government’s backing made privateering a legitimate form of war-like activity when compared with piracy. Keep reading more below to learn about piracy and privateering.

Piracy and Privateering

Later, piracy and privateering became more common during the Age of Piracy in the 16th and 17th century. Did you know that narrow channels that allowed shipping to follow predictable routes also created opportunities for piracy, privateering and commerce raiding? Examples of narrow channels that were popular havens for pirates include the waters of Gibraltar, the Strait of Malacca, Madagascar, the Gulf of Aden, and the English Channel. As you know, privateering was essentially government sanctioned raiding. Privateers were hired as sea raiders to capture commercial vessels that flew the flag of declared enemies. While piracy was illegal, privateering utilized a letter of marque and reprisal that was signed by an official. It could be issued by a monarch, local governor or another official, too. As payment for the letter of marque, government officials would receive a portion of whatever booty was obtained. Some of the most famous privateers were Francis Drake, Henry Morgan, and William Kidd.

Noteworthy Pirates

During the early 18th century, many famous pirates began to make the mark by capturing vessels at sea. For example, some of the most popular famous pirates were Blackbeard, Anne Bonny, and Bartholomew Roberts. Did you know that the stereotypical image of a pirate was inaccurate? Many people envision a pirate as a man with a peg leg, an eyepatch, and parrot on his shoulder. However, this iconic image of a cheery, adventurous, and charmingly-accented sailor was not based in reality. The truth is, a real pirate was most often a ruthless, desperate thief who would use any means of violence in order to steal from others.  

Gibbeting: How to Punish a Pirate

When piracy became a criminal act after the mid-18th century, the punishment for the crime was death. As a result, the incidence of pirate acts declined for a time. However, later in the18th century and early 19th century, more pirates began operating again. The British navy worked quickly to capture pirates and would later hang them in gibbets. These cage-like devices were shaped like the human body in order to hold the body together. Gibbeting was designed to punish the criminal even after death. Later, the bodies of the pirates would hang in the gibbets until they decomposed into a skeleton. Piracy was an act of high treason that no longer was accepted in society. This terrible practice of gibbeting showed the general public the consequences of piracy. That way, more people obeyed the law and avoided piracy themselves. 

We hope you enjoyed this article about piracy and privateering. Are you interested in becoming a pirate for a day? If you are, book a tour on the Marigalante pirate ship in Puerto Vallarta. One of Puerto Vallarta’s most popular tours, the Marigalante pirate ship offers visitors a fun-filled day of fun cruising through Banderas Bay.  Marigalante pirate ship tours include incredible acrobatics, live music, a delicious gourmet meal and premium open bar. In addition, they have stringent health and safety protocols in place to keep visitors safe. The Marigalante pirate ship adventure is one of Puerto Vallarta’s most popular tours, so make sure to book ahead of time to reserve your place!