The definition of piracy is the act of robbery or criminal violence by ship or boat-borne attackers upon another ship or a coastal area, typically in an attempt to steal cargo and other valuable items or properties. Pirates are those individuals who engage in acts of piracy and have earned a legendary reputation over the years. The first reports of pirates date back to the 14th century, when a group of pirates known as the Sea Peoples attacked ships from the Aegean and Mediterranean civilizations. Here are five of the most famous pirates in history:
William Kidd (Scottish, 1645 – 1701)
William Kidd was a debonair Scottish pirate who initially began his career as a privateer trying to rid the seas of pirates. In a surprising turn of events, he became a pirate himself when he was elected pirate captain by his crew. He attacked an East India Company Vessel that ultimately led to his downfall as he was later captured in Boston along with his wife. William Kidd was then sentenced to death by hanging, but suffered an especially excruciating execution as the noose broke twice! After the third attempt his body was doused in tar and hung by chains along the Thames River. What a way to go!
Edward Teach “Blackbeard” (English, 1680- 1718)
One of the best-known and widely-feared pirates of his time, Blackbeard commanded four ships and had a pirate army of over 300 men at the peak of his career. Capturing over forty merchant ships in the Caribbean sea, Blackbeard was merciless and murdered his victims without a moment’s pause. Off the coast of North Carolina, he was confronted by the Royal Navy and perished after a vicious battle. As a warning to other pirates in the area, Blackbeard was beheaded and his severed head was raised upon a stake in Virginia’s Hampton River. Sounds like an effective scare tactic to me!
Bartholomew Roberts “Black Bart” (Welsh, 1682 – 1722)
Well admired for his courageous demeanor, Black Bart’s crew fiercely respected his authority in all matters. Originally a navy officer, Roberts was on board a ship that was captured by the pirate Howell Davis and overtook Davis and took charge of the ship himself. With his exceptional navigational skills and charisma, Roberts ransacked over 400 well-armored ships during his escapades. After a brutal battle with the British Captain Chaloner Ogle, Black Bart died, but his legendary pirate status remains forever in history books.
Henry Every “Long Ben” (English, 1653-unknown)
Long Ben served in the British Royal Navy before joining a venture known as the Spanish Expedition Shipping in 1693. He became a pirate captain through mutiny, which earned him a reputation as the most feared and successful Red Sea pirate. Truth be known, he did not actually steal many ships, but the two ships that he did capture were among the finest in the Indian Ocean and were filled with gold and jewels. As a result of these extravagant and expensive escapades, Long Ben was the wealthiest pirate in the world when he retired. No one really knows when or how he died after he retired, but it must have been in style with all that money!
Anne Bonny (Irish, 1700-1782)
Anne fell in loved and married a poor sailor named James Bonny shortly after arriving in the New World with her family. She quickly grew disappointed by her husband’s lack of ambition and drive, and began spending time with a variety of more powerful men in Nassau. One particular man she befriended was the famous pirate ship captain “Calico Jack” Rackham. Posing as a man, she joined his crew and even fought under his command along with fellow female pirate Mary Read. Bonny thrived on the excitement of bloodshed, violence and drama and became a respected pirate in her own right. She ultimately disappeared from history, many believing she returned back to her husband or family after she had tired of the wild pirate life.
These pirates have long since passed, but their escapades and adventures live on. Which pirate do you think was the most interesting and noteworthy?