Portal:Piracy

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The Piracy Portal

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Piracy is a robbery committed at sea, or sometimes on the shore, by an agent without a commission from a sovereign nation. The Golden Age of Piracy occurred mostly in the Caribbean, the American coast, the Indian Ocean, and the western coast of Africa. As British imperialism spread across Europe it brought about many drastic structural changes due to which many sailors and privateers found themselves unemployed. Factors contributing to piracy included the rise in quantities of valuable cargoes being shipped to Europe over vast ocean areas, the weakness of European navies in peacetime, the training and experience that many sailors had gained as conscripts in European navies (particularly the Royal Navy), and the weakness of European government in overseas colonies.

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 in the Strait of Malacca and Singapore, which are used by over 50,000 commercial ships a year. A recent surge in piracy off the Somali coast spurred a multi-national effort led by the United States to patrol the waters near the Horn of Africa to combat piracy. While boats off the coasts of North Africa and the Mediterranean Sea are still assailed by pirates, the Royal Navy and the U.S. Coast Guard have nearly eradicated piracy in U.S. waters and the Caribbean Sea.


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1734 engraving of Blackbeard
Edward Teach (/ˈtɛ/; c. 1680 – November 22, 1718), better known as Blackbeard, was a notorious English pirate in the Caribbean Sea and western Atlantic during the early 18th century, a period referred to as the Golden Age of Piracy. His best known vessel was the Queen Anne's Revenge, which is believed to have run aground near Beaufort Inlet, North Carolina in 1718.

Blackbeard often fought, or simply showed himself, wearing a big feathered tricorn, and having multiple swords, knives, and pistols at his disposal. It was reported in the A General Historie of the Robberies and Murders of the Most Notorious Pyrates that he had hemp and lit matches woven into his enormous black beard during battle to intimidate his enemies. Blackbeard is often regarded as the archetypal image of the seafaring pirate.

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Wikinger.jpg

Viking refers to a member of the Scandinavian seafaring traders, warriors and pirates who raided and colonized wide areas of Europe from the late 8th to the 11th century. These Norsemen (literally, men from the north) used their famed longships to travel as far east as Constantinople and the Volga River in Russia, and as far west as Newfoundland. This period of Viking expansion is often referred to as the Viking Age of Scandinavian History.

The period from the earliest recorded raids in the 790s until the Norman Conquest of England in 1066 is commonly known as the Viking Age of Scandinavian History. The Normans, however, were descended from Danes, Norwegian (in Norwegian they are still to date referred to as jeg er en Normann), Orkney, Hiberno-Norse, and Danelaw Vikings who were given feudal overlordship of areas in northern France — the Duchy of Normandy — in the 8th century. In that respect, the Vikings continued to have an influence in northern Europe. Likewise, King Harold Godwinson, the last Anglo-Saxon king of England who was killed during the Norman invasion in 1066, was descended from Danish Vikings. (more...)

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Did you know...

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  • ...that English pirate Henry Every, who was sometimes known as Long Ben, was one of the few major pirate captains to retire with his loot without being arrested or killed in battle?
  • ...that red Jolly Roger flags were the most feared of all; all prayed they never encountered the "Bloody Red," which boldly declared that no mercy would be shown and all victims would be killed?
  • ...that, while it is unknown if pirates actually kept parrots as pets, it is thought that at least some captains kept cats aboard to keep populations of rats and other vermin down?
  • ...that, unlike traditional Western societies of the time, many pirate clans operated as limited democracies, demanding the right to elect and replace their leaders?

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Pyle pirate relaxing2.jpg
Image credit: Howard Pyle's Book of Pirates

Howard Pyle's fanciful painting of Captain Kidd and his ship, the Adventure Galley, in a New York City harbor. The Adventure Galley was a three-mast square-rigged ship, which weighed 287 tons, had 34 cannons, and a crew of about 150. When it was badly leaking it was lost in San Maria, a formable pirate base. It was stripped and the rest burned. It still remains in the shallow bay of the island.

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Skull and swords
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