Pirates have been around for hundreds and even thousands of years, but there was a moment in time where pirate activity was at its peak. During the early 18th century, the highest number ever of pirates freely sailed the open seas and threatened any vessel they happen to come across. This period of time was known as the Golden Age of Piracy, and many ships traveling the popular trade routes of the day were attacked by pirates.
The Advent of the Golden Age of Piracy
Many historians believe that the beginnings of the Golden Age of Piracy started during the mid-1680s when the last buccaneers disappeared from the Caribbean. A kind of privateer or sailor, buccaneers traveled in the Caribbean Sea during the 17th and 18th centuries. Unfortunately, as a result of ongoing wars and a shortage of naval employment opportunities, many of these out of work sailors and privateers turned to piracy out of necessity. With solid experience sailing the open seas, piracy was an easy transition for many sailors and privateers. In addition to having on the job experience, the absence of a strong government presence in the Caribbean and American colonies made the pirate life even more desirable for individuals looking to make a living for themselves and provide for their families back home. The unlikely event of serious punishment made many men feel it was worth the risk to take a chance on living the pirate life.
Caribbean – The Geographical Center of Piracy
The Golden Age of Piracy mainly occurred in the Caribbean, although the Atlantic coast of the United States, the West Coast of Africa, the Indian Ocean and South China Sea were also affected by the threat of piracy as well. Some of the most famous pirates in history lived during the Golden Age of Piracy. Well known pirate legends such as Blackbeard and Bartholomew Roberts were responsible for attacking many ships during the Golden Age of Piracy, and subsequently killed numerous victims during the early 1700’s. Pirate legends such as Blackbeard and Bartholomew Roberts were also behind the inspiration for novelists that wrote stories about pirates. Novelists during the 17th and 18th century were responsible for creating the popular image of a pirate with a wooden leg and parrot on his shoulder.
Government Intervention: The End of The Golden Age of Piracy
Do you want to know how the Golden Age of Piracy ended? After many years of turmoil and violence, a governor in Bahamas by the name of Woodes Rogers was one of the principal catalysts for change who did his best to eradicate pirate activity. Under the direction of Woodes Rogers, he was able to finally put a stop to the unchecked behavior of the savage pirates. Rogers was able to bring order to the rest of the Caribbean as well as the Bahamas. Many pirates met their fate by being hanged to death, and others willingly retired from the pirate life to save their lives. Other pirates abandoned the Caribbean, but subsequently headed to the Atlantic Ocean to try their luck in a new spot. Around the year 1730, the increased military presence and international anti-piracy law enforcement signaled an end of the Golden Age of Piracy.
Although pirates still exist today, the Golden Age of Piracy was the height of pirate activity that has never been seen since for several hundred years.