Monday, 23 May 2016

History Fact May 23rd

Historical Fun Fact - May 23rd
On this day in history in 1701, Captain William Kidd was executed for Piracy on the High Seas.
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.
Kidd 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.
Kidd 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 carrying 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 Captain William Kidd.
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.
Fun Pirate Fact
Out of all the pirates you know and don't know, 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.

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