Etymology of Pirates:
The English Pirate is newbed from the Latin term pirata, and ultimately from Greek peira (pe??a) "attempt, experience", implicitly "to find luck on the sea". The word is also cognate to peril. In 17th and 18th century sources the word is often rendered "pyrate". However, the term does not exclusively relate to robbery committed at sea, as other similar origins have a broader definition. Piracy is a robbery committed at sea, or sometimes on the shore, without a commission from a sovereign nation (robbery with sovereign commission is privateering, and distinct from piracy). Seaborne piracy against transport vessels remains a significant issue (with estimated worldwide losses of US $13 to $16 billion per year), particularly in the waters between the Pacific and Indian Oceans, off the Somali coast, and also in the Strait of Malacca and Singapore, which are used by over 50,000 commercial ships a year. Maritime piracy, according to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) of 1982, consists of any criminal acts of violence, detention, or depredation committed for private ends by the crew or the passengers of a private ship or aircraft that is directed on the high seas against another ship, aircraft, or against persons or property on board a ship or aircraft. Piracy can also be committed against a ship, aircraft, persons, or property in a place outside the jurisdiction of any state. The Jolly Roger is the traditional name for the flags of European and American pirates and a symbol for piracy that has been adopted by film-makers and toy manufacturers.
Ancient Pirates In History:
The earliest documented instances of piracy are the exploits of the Sea Peoples who threatened the Aegean and Mediterranean in the 13th century BC. In Classical Antiquity, the Tyrrhenians and Thracians were known as pirates. The island of Lemnos long resisted Greek influence and remained a haven for Thracian pirates. By the 1st century BC, there were pirate states along the Anatolian coast, threatening the commerce of the Roman Empire. On one voyage across the Aegean Sea in 75 BC, Julius Caesar was kidnapped by Cilician pirates and held prisoner in the Dodecanese islet of Pharmacusa. He maintained an attitude of superiority throughout his captivity. When the pirates thought to demand a ransom of twenty talents of gold, Caesar is said to have insisted that he was worth at least fifty, and the pirates indeed raised the ransom to fifty talents. After the ransom was paid, Caesar raised a fleet, pursued and captured the pirates, and imprisoned them in Pergamon. The governor of Asia refused to execute them as Caesar demanded, preferring to sell them as slaves, but Caesar returned to the coast and had them crucified on his own authority, as he had promised to when in captivity a promise the pirates had taken as a joke. The Senate finally invested Pompey with powers to deal with piracy in 67 BC (the Lex Gabinia), and Pompey after three months of naval warfare managed to suppress the threat. In the 3rd century, pirate attacks on Olympus (city in Anatolia) brought impoverishment. Among some of the most famous ancient pirateering peoples were the Illyrians, populating the western Balkan peninsula. Constantly raiding the Adriatic Sea, the Illyrians caused many conflicts with the Roman Republic. It was not until 68 BC that the Romans finally conquered Illyria and made it a province, ending their threat. In the Roman province of Britannia, Saint Patrick was captured and enslaved by Irish pirates. Early Polynesian warriors attacked seaside and riverside villages. They used the sea for their hit-and-run tactics - a safe place to retreat to if the battle turned against them.
Middle Ages Pirates In History:
The most famous and far reaching pirates in medieval Europe were the Vikings, warriors and looters from Scandinavia. They raided the coasts, rivers and inland cities of all Western Europe as far as Seville, attacked by the Norse in 844. Vikings even attacked coasts of North Africa and Italy. They also plundered all the coasts of the Baltic Sea, ascending the rivers of Eastern Europe as far as the Black Sea and Persia. The lack of centralized powers all over Europe during the Middle Ages favoured pirates all over the continent. After the Slavic invasions of the Balkan peninsula in the 5th and 6th centuries, a Slavic tribe settled the land of Pagania between Dalmatia and Zachlumia in the first half of the 7th century. These Slavs revived the old Illyrian piratical habits and often raided the Adriatic Sea. By 642 they invaded southern Italy and assaulted Siponte in Benevento. Their raids in the Adriatic increased rapidly, until the whole Sea was no longer safe for travel. The "Narentines," as they were called, took more liberties in their raiding quests while the Venetian Navy was abroad, as when it was campaigning in Sicilian waters in 827-82. As soon as the Venetian fleet would return to the Adriatic, the Narentines temporarily abandoned their habits again, even signing a Treaty in Venice and baptising their Slavic pagan leader into Christianity. In 834 or 835 they broke the treaty and again raided Venetian traders returning from Benevento, and all of Venice's military attempts to punish the Marians in 839 and 840 utterly failed. Later, they raided the Venetians more often, together with the Arabs. In 846 the Narentines broke through to Venice itself and raided its lagoon city of Kaorle. In the middle of March of 870 they kidnapped the Roman Bishop's emissaries that were returning from the Ecclesiastical Council in Constantinople. This caused a Byzantine military action against them that finally brought Christianity to them. After the Arab raids on the Adriatic coast c. 872 and the retreat of the Imperial Navy, the Narentines restored their raids of Venetian waters, causing new conflicts with the Italians in 887-888. The Narentine piracy traditions were cherished even while they were in Serbia, serving as the finest Serb warriors. The Venetians futilely continued to fight them throughout the 10th-11th centuries. In 937, Irish pirates sided with the Scots, Vikings, Picts, and Welsh in their invasion of England. Athelstan drove them back. In 12th century the coasts of west Scandinavia were plundered by Slavic pirates from the southwest coast of Baltic Sea. H Thomas Milhorn mentions a certain Englishman named William Maurice, convicted of piracy in 1241, as the first person known to have been hanged, drawn and quartered, which would indicate that the then-ruling King Henry III took an especially severe view of this crime. The ushkuiniks were Novgorodian pirates who looted the cities on the Volga and Kama Rivers in the 14th century. As early as Byzantine times, the Maniots - one of Greece's toughest populations - were known as pirates. The Maniots considered piracy as a legitimate response to the fact that their land was poor and it became their main source of income. The main victims of Maniot pirates were the Ottomans but the Maniots also targeted ships of European countries.
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Pirates In History on the Indian coast:
Since the 14th century the Deccan (Southern Peninsular region of India) was divided into two entities: on the one side stood the Muslim-ruled Bahmani Sultanate, and on the other stood the Hindu kings rallied around the Vijayanagara Empire. Continuous wars demanded frequent resupplies of fresh horses, which were imported through sea routes from Persia and Africa. This trade was subjected to frequent raids by thriving bands of pirates based in the coastal cities of Western India. During the sixteenth century there was frequent European piracy against Mughal Indian vessels, especially those en route to Mecca for hajj. The situation came to a head, when Portuguese attacked and captured the vessel Rahimi which belonged to Mariam Zamani the Mughal queen.
Pirates In History in East Asia:
From the 13th century, Japan based Wokou made their debut in East Asia, initiating invasions that would persist for 300 years. Piracy in South East Asia began with the retreating Mongol Yuan fleet after the betrayal by their Sri Vijayan allies in the war with Majapahit. They preferred the junk, a ship using a more robust sail layout. Marooned navy officers, consisting mostly of Cantonese and Hokkien tribesmen, set up their small gangs near river estuaries, mainly to protect themselves. They recruited locals as common foot-soldiers known as 'lang' (lanun) to set up their fortresses. They survived by utilizing their well trained pugilists, as well as marine and navigation skills, mostly along Sumatran and Javanese estuaries. Their strength and ferocity coincided with the impending trade growth of the maritime silk and spice routes. However, the most powerful pirate fleets of East Asia were those of Chinese pirates during the mid-Qing dynasty. Pirate fleets grew increasingly powerful throughout the early 19th century. The effects large-scale piracy had on the Chinese economy were immense. They preyed voraciously on China’s junk trade, which flourished in Fujian and Guangdong and was a vital artery of Chinese commerce. Pirate fleets exercised hegemony over villages on the coast, collecting revenue by exacting tribute and running extortion rackets. In 1802, the menacing Zheng Yi inherited the fleet of his cousin, captain Zheng Qi, whose death provided Zheng Yi with considerably more influence in the world of piracy. Zheng Yi and his wife, Zheng Yi Sao (who would eventually inherit the leadership of his pirate confederacy) then formed a pirate coalition that, by 1804, consisted of over ten thousand men. Their military might alone was sufficient to combat the Qing navy. However, a combination of famine, Qing naval opposition, and internal rifts crippled piracy in China around the 1820s, and it has never again reached the same status. The Bugi sailors of South Sulawesi were infamous as pirates who used to range as far west as Singapore and as far north as the Philippines in search of targets for piracy. The Orang laut pirates controlled shipping in the Straits of Malacca and the waters around Singapore.
Pirates In History in Eastern Europe:
One example of a pirate republic in Europe from the 16th through the 18th century was Zaporizhian Sich. Situated in the remote Steppe, it was populated with Ukrainian peasants that had run away from their feudal masters, outlaws of every sort, destitute gentry, run-away slaves from Turkish galleys, etc. The remoteness of the place and the rapids at the Dnepr river effectively guarded the place from invasions of vengeful powers. The main target of the inhabitants of Zaporizhian Sich who called themselves Cossacks were rich settlements at the Black Sea shores of Ottoman Empire and Crimean Khanate. By 1615 and 1625, Zaporozhian Cossacks had even managed to raze townships on the outskirts of Istanbul, forcing the Ottoman Sultan to flee his palace. Don Cossacks under Stenka Razin even ravaged the Persian coasts.
Pirates In History in North Africa:
The Barbary pirates were pirates and privateers that operated from North African (the "Barbary coast") ports of Tunis, Tripoli, Algiers, Salé and ports in Morocco, preying on shipping in the western Mediterranean Sea from the time of the Crusades as well as on ships on their way to Asia around Africa until the early 19th century. The coastal villages and towns of Italy, Spain and Mediterranean islands were frequently attacked by them and long stretches of the Italian and Spanish coasts were almost completely abandoned by their inhabitants; after 1600 Barbary pirates occasionally entered the Atlantic and struck as far north as Iceland . According to recent legal analysis by the U.S. Supreme Court, the United States treated captured Barbary corsairs as prisoners of war, indicating that they were considered as legitimate privateers by at least some of their opponents, as well as by their home countries.
Pirates In History in the Caribbean:
The great or classic era of piracy in the Caribbean extends from around 1560 up until the mid 1720s. The period during which pirates were most successful was from 1700 until the 1730s. Many pirates came to the Caribbean after the end of the War of the Spanish Succession. Many people stayed in the Caribbean and became pirates shortly after that. Others, the buccaneers, arrived in the mid-to-late 17th century and made attempts at earning a living by farming and hunting on Hispaniola and nearby islands; pressed by Spanish raids and possibly failure of their means of making a living, they turned to a more lucrative occupation (not to mention more active and conducive to revenge). Caribbean piracy arose out of, and mirrored on a smaller scale, the conflicts over trade and colonization among the rival European powers of the time, including England, Spain, Dutch United Provinces, Portuguese Empire and France. Most of these pirates were of English, Dutch and French origin. Because Spain controlled most of the Caribbean, many of the attacked cities and ships belonged to the Spanish Empire and along the East coast of America and the West coast of Africa. Some of the best-known pirate bases were New Providence, in the Bahamas from 1715 to 1725, Tortuga established in the 1640s and Port Royal after 1655. Among the most famous Caribbean pirates are Edward Teach or "Blackbeard" and Henry Morgan.
Life as a Pirate in History:
In the popular modern imagination, pirates of the classical period were rebellious, clever teams who operated outside the restricting bureaucracy of modern life. In reality, many pirates ate poorly, did not become fabulously wealthy, and died young. Unlike traditional Western societies of the time, many pirate clans operated as limited democracies, demanding the right to elect and replace their leaders. The captain of a pirate ship was often a fierce fighter in whom the men could place their trust, rather than a more traditional authority figure sanctioned by an elite. However, when not in battle, the ship's quartermaster usually had the real authority. Many groups of pirates shared in whatever they seized; pirates injured in battle might be afforded special compensation. Often all of these terms were agreed upon and written down by the pirates, but these articles could also be used as incriminating proof that they were outlaws. Pirates readily accepted outcasts from traditional societies, perhaps easily recognizing kindred spirits, and they were known to welcome them into the pirate fold. Such practices within a pirate crew were tenuous, however, and did little to mitigate the brutality of the pirate's way of life. Even though pirates raided many ships, most did not bury their treasure, or booty. Often times, the "treasure" that was stolen was food, water, alcohol, weapons, or clothing. For this reason, there was no need for the pirates to bury these goods. The classical age of piracy coexisted with a rise in British imperialism which required merchant vessels to transport goods and warships to protect the trade ships from pirates and privateers. Living conditions on the warships were horrible even by 17th-century standards; sailors were often fed rotten, maggot-infested food, frequently suffered from scurvy or other nutritional disorders, and could be counted lucky to escape their service without a crippling injury. British captains were known to have been extremely brutal; the captain held a nearly sovereign power aboard his ship and many were unafraid to abuse that power. To fill the warships, officers would forcibly pressgang boys and young men to replace lost crew. The horrid living conditions, constant threat to life, and brutality of the captain and his officers pushed many men over the edge. Possessing seafaring skill, a learned intolerance for absolute authority, and a disdain for the motherland they might have believed abandoned them, many crews would simply mutiny during an attack and offer themselves and their ship as a new pirate vessel and crew.
Privateers In History:
A privateer or corsair used similar methods to a pirate, but acted while in possession of a commission or letter of marque from a government or monarch authorizing the capture of merchant ships belonging to an enemy nation. For example, the United States Constitution of 1787 specifically authorized Congress to issue letters of marque and reprisal. The letter of marque was recognized by international convention and meant that a privateer could not technically be charged with piracy while attacking the targets named in his commission. This nicety of law did not always save the individuals concerned, however, as whether one was considered a pirate or a legally operating privateer often depended on whose custody the individual found himself in--that of the country that had issued the commission, or that of the object of attack. Spanish authorities were known to execute foreign privateers with their letters of marque hung around their necks to emphasize Spain's rejection of such defenses. Furthermore, many privateers exceeded the bounds of their letters of marque by attacking nations with which their sovereign was at peace (Thomas Tew and William Kidd are notable examples), and thus made themselves liable to conviction for piracy. However, a letter of marque did provide some cover for such pirates, as plunder seized from neutral or friendly shipping could be passed off later as taken from enemy merchants. The famous Barbary Corsairs of the Mediterranean were privateers, as were the Maltese Corsairs, who were authorized by the Knights of St. John, and the Dunkirkers in the service of the Spanish Empire. One famous privateer was Sir Francis Drake. His patron was Queen Elizabeth I, and their relationship ultimately proved to be quite profitable for England. Privateering lost international sanction under the Declaration of Paris in 1856.
Commerce raiders in History:
A wartime activity similar to piracy involves disguised warships called commerce raiders or merchant raiders, which attack enemy shipping commerce, approaching by stealth and then opening fire. Commerce raiders operated successfully during the American Revolution. During the American Civil War, the Confederacy sent out several commerce raiders, the most famous of which was the CSS Alabama. During World War I and World War II, Germany also made use of these tactics, both in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. Since commissioned naval vessels were openly used, these commerce raiders should not be considered even privateers, much less pirates - although the opposing combatants were vocal in denouncing them as such.
Modern Pirates In History:
Modern pirates favor small boats and taking advantage of the small crew numbers on modern cargo vessels. Modern pirates can be successful because a large amount of international commerce occurs via shipping. For commercial reasons, many cargo ships move through narrow bodies of water (such as the Suez Canal, the Panama Canal, and the Strait of Malacca) making them vulnerable to be overtaken and boarded by small motorboats. As usage increases, many of these ships have to lower cruising speeds to allow for navigation and traffic control, making them prime targets for piracy. Small ships are also capable of disguising themselves as fishing vessels or cargo vessels when not carrying out piracy in order to avoid or deceive inspectors.[citations needed] Also, pirates often operate in regions of developing or struggling countries with smaller navies and large trade routes. Pirates sometimes evade capture by sailing into waters controlled by their pursuer's enemies. With the end of the Cold War, navies have decreased size and patrol, and trade has increased, making organized piracy far easier. Modern pirates are sometimes linked with organized-crime syndicates, but often are parts of small individual groups. Pirate attack crews may consist of 4 to 10 sailors for going after a ship's safe (raiding) or up to 70 (depending entirely on the ships and the ships crew size) if the plan is to seize the whole vessel. The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) maintains statistics regarding pirate attacks dating back to 1995. Their records indicate hostage-taking overwhelmingly dominates the types of violence against seafarers. In some cases, modern pirates are not interested in the cargo and are mainly interested in taking the personal belongings of the crew and the contents of the ship's safe, which might contain large amounts of cash needed for payroll and port fees. In other cases, the pirates force the crew off the ship and then sail it to a port to be repainted and given a new identity through false papers often purchased from corrupt or complicit officials. Modern piracy can also take place in conditions of political unrest. For example, following the US withdrawal from Vietnam, Thai piracy was aimed at the many Vietnamese who took to boats to escape. Further, following the disintegration of the government of Somalia, warlords in the region have attacked ships delivering UN food aid. Environmental action groups such as Sea Shepherd have been accused of engaging in piracy and terrorism when they sink ships with mines, scuttle them, or ram them and throw butyric acid on their crews; although they carry firearms, they are not known to have fired them during attacks. Many nations forbid ships to enter their territorial waters or ports if the crew of the ships are armed in an effort to restrict possible piracy. Shipping companies sometimes hire private security guards. Modern definitions of piracy include the following acts:
Kidnapping of people for ransom
Seizure of items or the ship
Sabotage resulting in the ship subsequently sinking
In modern times, ships and airplanes are hijacked for political reasons as well. The perpetrators of these acts could be described as pirates (for instance, the French for "plane hijacker" is pirate de l'air, literally "air pirate"), but in English are usually termed "hijackers". An example is the hijacking of the Italian civilian passenger ship Achille Lauro, which is generally regarded as an act of piracy. Modern pirates also use a great deal of technology.
Buccaneer in History:
The buccaneers were pirates or privateers who attacked Spanish, and later French, shipping in the Caribbean Islands during the 17th century. The term buccaneer is now used generally as a synonym for pirate. Originally, buccaneer crews were larger, more apt to attack coastal cities, and more localized to the Caribbean than later pirate crews who sailed to the Indian Ocean on the Pirate Round in the late 17th century. The term buccaneer derives from the Arawak word buccan, a wooden frame for smoking the meat of sea cows, hence the French word boucan and the name boucanier for French hunters who used such frames to smoke meat from feral cattle and pigs on Hispaniola (now Haiti and the Dominican Republic). British colonists anglicised the word boucanier to buccaneer. About 1630, some Frenchmen who were driven away from the island of Hispaniola fled to nearby Tortuga. The Spaniards tried to drive them out of Tortuga, but the buccaneers were joined by many other French, Dutch and English and turned to piracy against Spanish shipping, generally using small craft to attack galleons in the vicinity of the Windward Passage. Finally they became so strong that they even sailed to the mainland of Spanish America and sacked cities. English settlers occupying Jamaica began to spread the name buccaneers with the meaning of pirates or privateers. The name became universally adopted later in 1684 when the first English translation of Alexandre Exquemelin's book The Buccaneers of America was published. Viewed from London, buccaneering was a low-budget way to wage war on Britain's rival, Spain. So, the English crown licensed buccaneers as "privateers", legalizing their operations in return for a share of their profits. The buccaneers were invited by Jamaica's Governor Thomas Modyford to base ships at Port Royal. The buccaneers robbed French, Dutch and Spanish shipping and colonies, and returned to Port Royal with their plunder, making the city the most prosperous in the West Indies. There even were navy officers sent to lead the buccaneers, such as Christopher Myngs. Their activities went on irrespective of whether England happened to be at war with Spain, the United Provinces or France. Among the leaders of the buccaneers was a Frenchman named Daniel Montbars, who destroyed so many Spanish ships and killed so many Spaniards that he was called "the Exterminator". Another noted leader was a Welshman named Henry Morgan, who sacked Maracaibo, Portobello, and Panama City, stealing a huge amount from the Spanish. Morgan became rich and went back to England, where he was knighted by Charles II. In the 1690s, the old buccaneering ways began to die out, as European governments began to discard the policy of "no peace beyond the Line." Buccaneers were hard to control and might embroil their colonies in unwanted wars. Notably, at the 1697 joint French-buccaneer siege of Cartagena, the buccaneers and the French regulars parted on extremely bitter terms. Less tolerated by local Caribbean officials, buccaneers increasingly turned to legal work or else joined regular pirate crews who sought plunder in the Indian Ocean, the east coast of North America, or West Africa as well as in the Caribbean. The status of buccaneers as pirates or privateers was ambiguous. As a rule, the buccaneers called themselves privateers, and many sailed under the protection of a letter of marque granted by British or French authorities. Henry Morgan in particular had some form of legal cover for all of his attacks. Nevertheless, these rough men had little concern for legal niceties, and exploited every opportunity to pillage Spanish targets, whether or not a letter of marque were available. Many of the letters of marque used by buccaneers were legally invalid, and any form of legal paper in that illiterate age might be passed off as a letter of marque. Furthermore, even those buccaneers that had valid letters of marque often failed to observe their terms; Morgan's 1671 attack on Panama, for instance, was not at all authorized by his commission from the governor of Jamaica. The legal status of buccaneers was still further obscured by the practice of the Spanish authorities, who regarded them as heretics and interlopers, and thus hanged or garrotted captured buccaneers entirely without regard to whether their attacks were licensed by French or English monarchs. Simultaneously, French and English governors tended to turn a blind eye to the buccaneers' depredations against the Spanish, even when unlicensed. But as Spanish power waned toward the end of the 17th century, the buccaneers' attacks began to disrupt France and England's merchant traffic with Spanish America. Merchants who had previously regarded the buccaneers as a defense against Spain now saw them as a threat to commerce, and colonial authorities grew hostile. This change in political atmosphere, more than anything else, put an end to buccaneering. A hundred years before the French Revolution, the buccaneer companies were run on lines in which liberty, equality and brotherhood were the rule, although only for white members of the crew. In a buccaneer ship, the captain was elected and could be deposed by the votes of the crew. The crew, and not the captain, decided the destination of each voyage and whether to attack a particular ship. The buccaneers' democratic model was adopted by many later pirate crews. Spoils were evenly divided into shares; the captain received an agreed amount for the ship, plus a portion of the share of the prize money, usually five or six shares. Crews generally had no regular wages, being paid only from their shares of the plunder, a system called "no purchase, no pay" by Modyford or "no prey, no pay" by Exquemelin. There was a strong esprit de corps among buccaneers. This, combined with overwhelming numbers, allowed them to win sea battles and shore raids. There was also, for some time, a social insurance system guaranteeing compensation for battle wounds at a worked-out scale. A common myth about buccaneers is that they were racially egalitarian and liberated slaves when capturing slave ships. In fact, buccaneers fully participated in the slave society of their time, selling slaves as captured booty and even giving slaves to wounded buccaneers as compensation. Nevertheless, it is quite true that the relationship between officers and men among the buccaneers was much more egalitarian than that aboard merchant or naval vessels of the time. Buccaneers initially used small boats to attack Spanish galleons surreptitiously, often at night, and climb aboard before the alarm could be raised. Buccaneers were expert marksmen and would quickly kill the helmsman and any officers aboard Buccaneers' reputation as cruel pirates grew until most victims would surrender, hoping they would not be killed. When buccaneers raided towns, they did not sail into port and bombard the defenses, as naval forces typically did. Instead, they secretly beached their ships out of sight of their target, marched overland, and attacked the towns from the landward side, which was usually less fortified. Their raids relied on mainly two things: surprise and speed. One such example is of Sir Henry Morgan's raid on Portobello.
Corsairs in History:
Corsairs were French privateers from the north-western French port of St-Malo, located on the northern coast of Brittany. Since the corsairs gained, to some, a swashbuckling reputation, the word corsair is also used generically as a more romantic or flamboyant version of the word privateer, or even of the word pirate. The barbary pirates of north Africa were sometimes called "Turkish corsairs". The name "corsair" derives from the commissioning document received from the king, the Lettre de Course ("racing letter" or "racing commission"). The "race", la course, was a euphemism for chasing down foreign merchant shipping. The Lettre de Course was known in other countries as a letter of marque and reprisal (in French Lettre de Marque); the French often preferred the different term of Lettre de Course but the document was the same in substance.
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