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Pirates of the New World
The sixteen hundreds were known as the “Golden Age of Piracy”. Many pirates ruled this era. The most famous of these pirates though, were Blackbeard and Anne Bonny. There were also several other famous female pirates that ruled the Golden Age. A short list of these include: Alfhild, the pirate princess; Grace O’Malley, the Irish sailor; Mary Read, a daring buccaneer; Jacquotte Delahaye, a vengeful French lady; Anne Dieu-Le-Vuet, a French criminal.
Blackbeard is one of the most well known pirates to this day. He was born in 1680, and died around November 22, 1718. His birthplace was Bristol, England. His true name was Edward Teach(or Thatch). Blackbeard was a very massive man. He was nicknamed Blackbeard, because of his wildly large beard. He had a fearsome reputation as a pirate. His reign of terror in the Caribbean lasted from 1716 to 1718. Before that, he had a career as a privateer. May of 1718, Blackbeard blockaded the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina. During this he used his flagship, Queen Anne’s Revenge, and two or more small water vessels. He was pardoned from this crime by Charles Eden, the governor of North Carolina, provided that Blackbeard gave him a cut of the booty (treasure). The pardon that the governor gave him did not stop him from harassing plantations along the Pamlico River.
Treasure Island is one of the most common places that Blackbeard was known to frequent. He was also commonly found off the coasts of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. It is widely known that Blackbeard was killed during a battle with Royal Navy. During this battle, his flagship, Queen Anne’s Revenge, was lost. Centuries later, Queen Anne’s Revenge was found near Beaufort Inlet, North Carolina. Blackbeard also commanded an entire fleet of ships; some of them included: Ranger, Revenge, and Adventure. There were also several undocumented ships.
Blackbeard was a legendary pirate. If rumors prove true, Blackbeard tended to braid his beard, and tie it with ribbons, and that during a battle, he would weave hemp in his beard, tie matches to the hemp, and light the matches. Blackbeard was shot and stabbed more than 25 times before he died, and was decapitated as well. As you can see, Blackbeard was a very well known pirate, and still very much is.
Throughout history, pirates have primarily been men. Women, though not as many, have also played a very important role in history, too. The first “lady” pirate to appear in history was Alfhild, the pirate princess. She was also known as Alvida, Alwilda, and Alvild. It is not known exactly when she was born, but somewhere between the 5th and 12th century. Mostly legend follows her around, but it is said that she was the daughter of Gothic King Siward. She eventually became Queen of Denmark, after her first refusal of Prince Alf’s proposal. During the end of her reign of piracy, Prince Alf raided her ship, whose crew consisted of many women, and she revealed herself to him. They ended up together in the end then married and she became Queen of Denmark.
Women played their part well as did Grace O’Malley, when the time came. When her country needed her, she was there, saving Galway, Ireland from its downfall. Though not in the most honorable way. When she was a young girl, she always wanted to be a sailor, but was constantly discouraged from it by her mother and father. When her father had refused to take her on a sailing trip, she butchered all her hair off, and dressed in boy’s clothes to make a point that she could handle the trip and handle a seafarer’s life. Through her persistence, her father allowed her to go on the trip with him and his fleet.
Mary Read was another of these “lady” pirates. She died in 1721 in a Jamaican prison. Born to the widow of a sea captain between 1680 to 1690. No long before Mary was born, her brother died, so her mother dressed Mary as a boy and Mary was raised as a boy to replace her dead brother. She ran away when she was a bit older, when she realized how hard sea life was she “jumped ship” and joined the British military disguised as a man. During this time she fell in love with a Flemish soldier. Upon marrying him, she dressed in women’s clothes for the first time. Due to her husband’s early death, she resumed wearing men’s clothes and reenlisted herself into the military. Seeing as she wasn’t going anywhere with the militia, she quit and boarded a ship going to the West Indies.
Even French women were pirates. Jacquotte Delahaye is said to have become a pirate after her father was killed. She fought alongside Anne Dieu-Le-Vuet. Anne is believed to be a French criminal that was deported from France. She was taken to Tortuga, where she married the pirate Pierre Length. After Pierre was murdered she married Laurens de Graff, the man who killed her husband. She was a very publicized pirate because she did not try to hide that she was a woman. It is not entirely certain what happened to Anne and her husband, but it is said that they settled in Mississippi while continuing their piracy.
Anne Bonny is one of the most well-known“lady” pirates of her time. She was a true pirate of the Caribbean. She was an active pirate there from 1713 to 1720. She and a male pirate named Calico pirated this area together. Anne was born in 1697 to parents, William Cormack, a lawyer, and Mary Brenner, a servant woman. When her father went through some bad business, he moved his daughter and himself from Ireland to South Carolina, and there, William made a new start for him and Bonny.
At sixteen, Anne fell in love with James Bonny, a small time pirate, who was really only interested in her estate. Against her father’s wishes, she married James. Because of this disapproving marriage, her father turned Anne out of his house. After being married to James for sometime, she fell in love with and ran away with pirate Calico Jack Rackham. Pregnant with Rackham's child, Anne was left alone in Cuba to give birth. It is unknown what happened to Anne and Calico’s child.
When Anne Bonny returned to Calico’s ship, Mary Read was on board. It is said they had a lesbian relationship. After a struggle with the Royal Navy, the crew was captured. The crew was trialed and executed in Port Royal. Both Anne and Mary claimed to be pregnant, so they were not executed. Mary died in capture while Anne's father paid for Anne’s bail. Anne then married Joseph Burleigh at her father’s urging. Soon after marrying Burleigh, she gave birth to her and Calico’s second child. She later had eight other children with Burleigh. She died April 25, 1782. She was one of the first women to fight for the equality between men and women.
Today, there are still pirates, and treasure is still being found under the waters of our vast oceans. Blackbeard still plays a very prominent role in history, as dose Anne Bonny, and many other pirates. They’re legendary; just recently, Disney is filming the fourth installment (starring Johnny Depp) of Pirates of the Caribbean, titled, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, in which Blackbeard (Ian McShane) plays a prominent role. There are several other movies featuring these famous pirates, such as, Pirates: The True Story of Blackbeard (2006); The Return of Captain Kidd (2011); Anne of the Indies (1951); Pirates of Treasure Island (2006). There are also many books about them too, most of which romanticize their stories. “Where there are seas, there are pirate”(Greek Proverb).
Hitchcock, Shannon. “A Pirate’s Life for Me”. Ask. November/December 2009: Power Search. Gale Learning.21 April, 2010. http://find.galegroup.com
Unknown. “Famous Pirate: Anne Bonny. Lady Pirate.” The Way of the Pirate. 2009: The Way of the Pirate. Google.22 April 2010. http://www.thewayofthepirate.com/famous_pirate/anne-bonny.php
Weatherly, Myra. Women Pirates, Eight Stories of Adventure. Morgan Reynolds Incorporated: Greensboro,1998
Woodard, Colin. “Quelling a Pirate Revolt: in 1718, a former British Privateer finally brought Blackbeard and his cronies to bay”. MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History. Spring 2009:8+. General One File. Web. 21 April 2010. http://find.galegroup.com/
Zepke, Terrance. Pirates of the Carolinas. Pineapple Press, Inc.: Sarasota Florida. 2000