Golden Age of Piracy

Infamous Pirates

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Infamous Pirates

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Background

The infamous pirates are the most famous of all the sailors in the Golden Age of Piracy. Their names are common household names like Blackbeard and represent true defiance in the face of tyranny and oppression. Most of the greatest pirates were ex-privateers that fought previously before for the Crown but found themselves out of work after a peace treaty ended one of the many European wars. It should be known that the pirates and the privateers and their actions in the West Indies were merely an extension of the conflicts that were waged during the Age of Colonialism in Europe. While the wars were going on the pirates found work through pardons and privateers but once the wars were over the privateers were viewed as a nuisance.

The first infamous pirates were born out of the Pirate Round which is when they decided to venture around the Cape of Good Hope and enter the Indian Ocean to plunder the East Indies and the even larger riches that lay there. However, the War of the Spanish Succession quickly brought all the pirates back into the fold as legimate privateers, laying the framework that would eventually lead to the development of the next generation of outlaw pirates during the Post Spanish Succession Period.

Pirate Rounders

The pirate rounders were a group of English pirates that decided to try their hand in the Indian Ocean and made the voyage known as the Pirate Round. Operating out of their base on Madagascar these pirates were some of the most successful of all time. In fact, one of the pirate hunters sent to find these pirates was turned into a roundsman himself.

The largest single pirate heists were made in the Indian Ocean.

Post Spanish Succession Period

The pirates of the 18th century Post Spanish Succession Period were more like the romanticized versions portrayed in Hollywood films and video games. However Hollywood never got the real pirates right. As much as they tried, the real pirates were way crazier than anything Hollywood has depicted. Learn about the true lives of the 18th century pirates of lore. Real facts based on primary source documents details all of their infamous actions. Pirates of the 18th century should be split up in two separate groups, the Flying Gang and Bartholomew Roberts and Associates.

This is because these two groups operated independently from one another not only in terms of geography but also political climate at the time. Bartholomew Roberts and gang operated during a time when the Kings Pardon had already been in effect and any pirates knew the penalty for their actions. However they went on to do it bigger than even the ones popular in culture. Probably because they were much more violent.

The best primary source regarding the outlaw pirates of the 18th century is Captain Charles Johnson's book titled the A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the Most Notorious Pyrates. The four editions of this book helped cement the culture and mythology behind the pirates, and the anonymous author only lends even more mystique to an era shrouded in mystery.

Overall the 18th century pirates did it bigger, badder and crazier than their predecessors and while the buccaneers and privateers pirated to help cement their empires presence in the New World, these pirates legitimately threatened the entire colonial structure of all empires at the time and therefore had to be dealt with at all costs. The pirates were the true liberators of tyranny and while once were viewed as a beneficial nuisance were now viewed as public enemy number one and examples were made of them in order to attempt to retain the dying model of imperialism and colonialism.

The Flying Gang

The The Flying Gang was a group of ex-privateers in the Post Spanish Succession Period turned pirates that operated out of their haven at Nassau on the island of New Providence in the British controlled Bahamas. These are the famous pirates that are depicted in culture and movies. While extremely famous in culture, their total haul was never close to pirates of the later 1720's, with the exception of Samuel Bellamy.

The Flying Gang

Bartholomew Roberts & Gang

However, while the most popular in the eye of the public, the Flying Gang holds nothing to the legend that is Bartholomew Roberts. Operating at a time when most of the Flying Gang had accepted their pardon by Governor Woodes Rogers, or were executed for piracy by the Crown, Bartholomew Roberts was conscripted as a pirate and forced into the lifestyle.

After witnessing the death of his captain during an ambush, Roberts was elected captain and began by slaughtering the settlement of Principe. Going on to take more ships and more loot than any pirate ever in history, along with spawning the careers of many more pirates, Black Bart and his gang go down in history as the craziest group next to the buccaneers to ever roam this planet.

Edward Low & Associates

Misc. European Pirates

Pirates of the South China Coast

The Pirates of the South China Coast were an organized group of Chinese pirates at the turn of the 19th century who commanded fleets of hundreds and plundered colonial shipping between China and Europe long after the Post Spanish Succession Period had ended.

Post-Golden Age Pirates

Piracy would still continue long after the Golden Age had set.

Sources

Primary Sources

Defoe, D. (1720). The King of Pirates: Being an Account of the Famous Enterprises of Captain Henry Every. London:

Johnson, C. (1724). A General History of the Pyrates (2nd Edition, Volume I). London, Great Britain: T. Warner.

Secondary Sources

Ellms, C. (1837). The Pirates Own Book, or, Authentic Narratives of the Lives, Exploits and Executions of the Most Celebrated Sea Robbers. Maine: Sanborn & Carter.

Pyle, H. (1921). Book of Pirates. New York, Harper & Brothers.

Whymper, F. (1877). The Sea: Its Stirring Story of Adventure, Peril & Heroism. (Vol. 3). London: Cassell, Petter & Galpin.

Johnson, C., & Fraser, C. L. (1922). Pirates..the Lives and Adventures of Sundry Notorious Pirates. New York: R.M. McBride and Company.

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