Charlotte de Berry
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|Charlotte de Berry|
|— Pirate —|
|Place of birth||England|
|Base of operations||Caribbean Sea|
In her mid to late teens, she fell in love with a sailor and, against her parents' will, married him. Disguised as a man, she followed him on board his ship and fought alongside him. Her true identity was discovered by a officer who kept this knowledge to himself, wanting de Berry. He assigned her husband to the most dangerous jobs, which he survived thanks to his wife's help. The officer finally accused Charlotte's husband of mutiny, of which he was found guilty based on an officer's word against that of a common sailor. He was punished and killed by flogging. The officer then made advances towards Charlotte, which she refused. The next time they were in port she killed the officer and snuck away, dressing again as a woman and working on the docks.
While de Berry worked on the docks, a captain of a merchant ship saw her and kidnapped her. He forced de Berry to marry him and took her away on his trip to Africa. To escape her new husband who was a brutal rapist and tyrant, de Berry gained the respect of the crew and persuaded them to mutiny. In revenge, she decapitated her husband and became captain of the ship. After years of pirating, she fell in love with a Spaniard, Armelio Gonzalez. However, they were shipwrecked and after days of hunger they turned to cannibalism. The survivors of her crew were rescued by a Dutch ship, and when that ship was attacked by pirates, they bravely defended their rescuers. While the others celebrated victory, Charlotte jumped overboard in order to join her dead husband. No one knows if she survived.
The earliest known reference to Charlotte de Berry comes from 1836, two centuries after her birth, when she appeared in Edward Lloyd's History of the Pirates, a "penny dreadful" or "penny blood" - cheap stories with a fairly gory or shocking theme written to entertain the masses.
Although Lloyd intended his readers to take the story of de Berry seriously, it is difficult to believe that any part of it is true, many of the incidents and events mentioned strain credulity. Many of the incidents included in the story have similar parallels with other events and stories floating around in the early 19th century, and it is the lack of credibility of Lloyd's story, together with the total and utter lack of any evidence whatsoever prior to 1836, which can lead to the conclusion that Charlotte de Berry is entirely fictional. Since 1836, de Berry's story has appeared in print in a number of books, but in every case it is a re-telling of the 1836 yarn.
- Platt, Richard (1995). Pirate. Eyewitness Guides. London: Dorling Kindersley. ISBN 0-7513-6035-X
- Lloyd, Edward. History of the Pirates, April 30, 1836.