Once they had a ship, the pirates elected their captains, and made all their decisions collectively. They shared their bounty out in what Rediker calls “one of the most egalitarian plans for the disposition of resources to be found anywhere in the 18th century.”
They even took in escaped African slaves and lived with them as equals. The pirates showed “quite clearly – and subversively – that ships did not have to be run in the brutal and oppressive ways of the merchant service and the Royal navy.” This is why they were popular, despite being unproductive thieves.
Oops, turns out piracy is pretty much always a term like terrorist that gets slapped on whatever we don’t like despite being a general reaction to the status quo. And nothing’s really changed.
And when african pirates were captured by the British they were forced into the slave trade.
Horrible Histories taught me about pirates https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zwn5K89dE5c
They were generally democratic, disciplined, communal - they even had pensions! If you wanted out of the pirate life, you would be taken to a destination of your choice (anywhere in the world) and given a lump sum to help you with your new life.
Honor among thieves.
THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU YES i’ve spent like two years studying piracy (back when i had time to devote to reading and research) and yes pirates are actually all very interesting and democratic and great
Reblogging since someone recently sent me an ask on this topic (although now it appears to be lost somewhere in my inbox).
The thing that annoys me the most about conversations on piracy is the Eurocentrism. African pirates feature as ‘side characters’ on white western ships and that’s about it. This TOTALLY ignores the many other pirate communities out there. Like, why are there no documentaries, movies and novels about Chinese pirates? They outnumbered pirate ships of European origin by a large margin and were very succesful. They formed massive fleets and regularily kicked ass against European naval fleets.
Chinese ‘Pirate kings’ often had a fleet of over 200 ships and the Japanese-Chinese pirate king Cheng Chih-Lung had over a thousand. He fought wars against rival pirate kings and often saw the European fleets as minor nuances. After 1635 you couldn’t sail the Taiwan Strait without a permit issued by Cheng Chih-Lung. He then went on to become a navy commander of the Ming dynasty. He kicked the Dutch VOC out of Taiwan and might have become king of Taiwan if he hadn’t died shortly after.
How is he not the most famous pirate in the history of piracy? Oh yeah.. wait.. he wasn’t white.
Deadline is reporting that one of our favorite historical ladies may be coming to a television screen near you: Ching Shih, a pirate’s widow who, at the dawn of the 1800′s, began a career that would make her one of the most notorious pirates in the world, the terror of the Chinese, British, and Portugese navies, so unstoppable that the only way to end her naval empire wound up being to offer her complete amnesty and a nice retirement.
Maggie Q, late of Nikita, Mission: Impossible III, and Young Justice, is”set to headline a limited series from Steven Jensen’s Independent Television Group, Mike Medavoy & Benjamin Anderson of Phoenix Pictures (Black Swan), and Fred Fuchs (Transporter). Titled Red Flag, the series is set in the early 1800s and centers on Ching Shih (Maggie Q), a beautiful young Chinese prostitute who goes on to become one of history’s most powerful pirates and head of the most successful crime syndicate in China.”
Little is known of Ching Shih’s early life, so our accounts of her usually begin with pirate leader Zheng Yi taking a cantonese prostitute for his wife. During their marriage, Ching Shih was fully a part of her husband’s profession. After his death, she maneuvered and politicked her way into the lead position of his fleet, taking as a lover and new husband a man she could trust to take care of (and I might be reading a little too far into Wikipedia here) all the boring administrative stuff. Under Ching Shih, her fleet adopted a strict code of conduct governing loyalty and the distribution of loot and stolen goods, as well as personal conduct.
Ching Shih was also remarkable for being one of the only famous pirates to retire and die of natural causes. Giving up on defeating her, the Chinese government offered complete amnesty to all pirates, and she accepted, taking her ill-gotten gains and opening a gambling house, eventually dying at the age of 69.