Saturday, April 4, 2009

A beginner's guide to Medieval and Renaissance piracy, part 1

Most think of pirates from the Golden age of Pirates, a time form 1692 to 1725.  This covers pirates we know like Black beard, and Captain Kidd.  Pirates where known form the time of the Egyptians to modern day.  I like to study the pirates of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.  Here's the first part of what I've learned in my research.

Who were the pirates?  The average pirate was someone who was looking for a better life at sea.  Others had no choice in going to sea; they were rounded up in press gangs and forced into the navy.  Normally they were form the lower classes and found themselves on a boat.  The pressed men would revolt and/or run away and find themselves outlaws.  They had to turn to piracy to make a living.  Some of them were from inland and never learned to swim before their new "occupation."  Even after the joined, they would never learn the one thing that could save their lives.  It showed you had no faith in your ship if you did.

In the late sixteenth century, there was the rise of the "gentleman pirate."  These were lords who turned to piracy for military glory and wealth.  They always led the crew as captain.  In contrast, Golden Age pirates voted for their leaders.

Next time, clothing and food!

(Note: This work comes from my SCA class called "So you want to be a Pirate.")

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