Saturday, 16 May 2015


5 Fun Facts About Famous and Infamous Pirates

Image result for captain william kidd1. Captain William Kidd was a famous 17th century pirate. That's Captain William Kidd. Not to be confused with Billy The Kid, who was a cowboy, not a pirate. Although Captain William Kidd's level of piracy is very much disputed. Kidd was employed by the Governor of the Island of Nevis to sail his ship, Blessed William, with a small fleet of likeminded Captains, to protect the English settlement against the French. They were given permission and the authority to pillage the French ships of whatever plunder they wanted. He was later tasked with hunting enemy pirates and capturing or destroying their ships. So, far from being a pirate himself, he was actually hunting them down. He did this for a number of years and had a reputation for being a cruel Captain who didn't think twice about killing his crew or captives. He came unstuck when he captured an American flagged ship, carrying French papers. Normally, it would have been a good prize (at the time England was at war with France and an American ship carry French passes was basically a French ship). Unfortunately, the ship was actually captained by an Englishman. Word got around and his actions were considered to be piracy on the high seas. A fleet was sent after him, and he was captured and brought back to England to stand trial in front of Parliament itself. It didn't go well for him. He was tried, found guilty, and executed on the 23rd May 1701. His body was then gibbeted over the river Thames for three years, as a warning to anyone else that would dare to be a pirate. Out of all the pirates mentioned, and those who haven't been, Kidd is the only documented pirate who is confirmed as having hidden buried treasure. He hid it when he found out he was being hunted, and planned to use it as a bargaining tool at his trial. The loot has yet to be found.

2. Francois L'Olannais was a notorious French Pirate in the mid to late 17th Century. He began his life as an indentured servant, working on an American plantation. He mulled along for a while until he decided to turn to piracy. And when he put his mind to something, he butchered the carping carp out of the idea. L'Olannais was a vicious, sadistic pirate who was particularly good at land attacks. He raided a boat load of towns, including Maracaibo in Venezuela. He tore through the town killing whoever he came across and stole over 200,000 Spanish dollars. That was a heap of cash back then. During one of his attacks, he is known to have eaten a Spanish soldier's heart. Yeah, not one of the nice, cuddly pirates we've all come to know and love from Disney. Don't worry, though, he got his comeuppance. He sailed his ship, by accident, onto a sandbar off the coast of Panama. Unable to break free, he and his crew were forced to make an expedition onto land for food. They were captured and the locals took quite a taste to L'Olannais and his crew. They ate them.

Image result for francis drake3. Sir Francis Drake. He sailed under the Queen's protection (Elizabeth I), which meant he was called a privateer not a pirate. This is basically a pirate without the parrot, wooden leg, Yo-Ho-Ho and Shiver me Timbers. His voyages were legendary. He was second in command of the English fleet against the Spanish Armada in 1588, and was a national hero. To the Spanish, on the other hand, he was a right git. Drake plundered, pillaged or destroyed a rum-tum-tum of Spanish ships. In Spain he was a pirate of the worst kind. They called him El Draque, which means, well, err, probably The Drake. A totally fearsome pirate name. King Phillip II offered a handsome reward for Drake's capture or death by hedgehog implantation, a popular torture technique in the King's hometown of El Loserville.

Image result for captain henry morgan4. Captain Morgan. Nope, not the bottle of rum, but the pirate, Captain Sir Henry Morgan. Coincidentally, the brand of rum, Captain Morgan, is named after the pirate, Captain Sir Henry Morgan. How strange. Morgan was a Welsh pirate of the highest calibre. Or is that the rum? He was, in fact, one of the most successful pirates/privateers in history. He terrorised the Caribbean during the late 1600s, with full permission and protection of England. Well, he did, but it was a secret, so don't tell anyone. He was put in charge, and made an Admiral, oh wow, an Admiral of the Fleet, and tasked with pillaging, plundering and generally making a complete nuisance of himself in regards to the Spanish. He did this with gusto. But killed Mario and Dario. Captain Morgan is known to have pillaged, captured, or destroyed over four hundred ships. Now, that's a lot of plundering. He wasn't going to stop at ships, though. He captured Panama City with thirty ships and 1200 men and plundered the plunder right out of the place. It was this victory that brought his doom, though. He was arrested and returned to England to stand trial. However, England and Spain resumed their hostilities and King Charles II decided to set Morgan free, and knighted him as a reward. As a bonus, he was appointed deputy governor of Jamaica, as well. Which royally peeved the Spanish off.

Image result for blackbeard5. Blackbeard, also known as, Edward Teach. When we think of pirates, apart from Johnny Depp, we think of Edward Teach, the fearsome Blackbeard, an infamous English pirate who sailed the West Indies and the east coast of the American colonies. Edward Teach had been a pirate for years when he captured a French merchant vessel, renaming her Queen Anne's Revenge. He refitted the ship from head to toe, stern to bow, and installed 40 guns. Teach pirated the living daylights out of anything and everything he could. Movies, music, Game of Thrones. He didn't care what he pirated. His reputation for ruthlessness spread and soon every ship that sailed the seven seas, and some rivers, feared him. The guy was actually crazy. Nutso-Whacko-Jacko. To give an example, he tied lit fuses under his hat to frighten his enemies. "You were only supposed to blow the bloody hat off. Not my whole head." Teach hated using force and generally didn't. He let his reputation speak for itself. Most of his prey surrendered quickly once they found out who they were up against. In fact, there is no known record of him ever killing any of his captives. The guy was a pussycat. Although, seriously, lit fuses on your hat? Bonkers.

Near to the end, he formed an alliance with other pirates and they blockaded the port of Charleston, South Carolina. After the Pirate Group had ransomed the townsfolk for all they could get, Teach decided to call it a day. He sailed the Queen Anne's Revenge aground on a sandbar and retired with a royal pardon. The quiet life didn't agree with him, though. He returned to sea, as it's a pirate's life for me. Yo-Ho-Ho, and a bottle of rum, me matey. He was killed on the 22nd November 1718 after the ferocious battle of battles.

Cannons fired through the morning mist lighting up the fog with splashes of red fire. A deafening silence crossed the water as everyone held their breath. They knew the carnage that followed those flashes. They were dead. Every single one of them. A second later, the silence was broken. Thunder raged between the ships. Bang after bang. The enemy were relentless in their attack. The cannons kept firing. There was no time to get to their own guns. The cannonballs slammed into the ship. It lurched to the side with each impact. Timbers exploded sending wooden splinters cutting through the air, and anyone nearby. The crew cried out, screams of agony slicing the air with the sound of death. A moment later, they were muffled by the explosions and forgotten. Fight to the last, he said. Teach would. He was crazy. Batshit crazy. He fell amidships, a sword in his hand, another in his belly. The small forced had boarded in the chaos, hidden by the smoke and fog. Teach looked up at the blade protruding from his own amidships, and then beyond at Lieutenant Robert Maynard. "You have killed me, Sir." Maynard nodded. "You are relieved, Captain. To Davy Jones locker, you go."

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