Six fearsome facts about the real pirates of the Caribbean
Ahoy, matey! The hit history podcast You’re Dead To Me has been looking at the life of the infamous pirate Blackbeard, so we're celebrating by plundering the episode for all the best pirate facts. Dead men tell no tales, but we're going to tell you landlubbers a boatload of cool stuff about buccaneers.
Savvy? You will be soon...
1. There was a golden age of piracy
The heyday of piracy was in the 17th and 18th centuries, spanning from around 1650 to 1726.
2. Buried treasure is a myth
Gold and silver were too heavy and would weigh down a ship. Pirates were far more interested in items such as spices, alcohol and medicines, which they could use themselves or trade when back on dry land.
3. Most of what we know about pirates comes from one book...
Much of the information historians have about the “golden age” of pirates comes from A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the Most Notorious Pyrates, by Captain Charles Johnson. Published in 1724, A General History was a huge commercial success and ran four editions within two years of publication. Much of A General History remains uncorroborated and is likely to be highly embellished.
4. ...but our lasting perception of pirates comes from the novel Treasure Island
Robert Louis Stevenson himself used A General History of the Pyrates for research when writing his novel, but took quite a few artistic liberties. The result is that our enduring image of pirates is based on the fictional Long John Silver – complete with eye patch, wooden leg and pet parrot.
5. Privateering was pretty much legalised piracy
Privateers had a licence by their government to attack enemy ships and keep any loot as payment. Pirates were not loyal to any nation or government and were not as picky in the ships they targeted. Many pirates, including the infamous Blackbeard, were privateers before they decided that the pirate life was for them.
6. Pirates liked to party!
During the golden age of piracy, their party place of choice was an island called Nassau in the Bahamas. Rumour has it that there was one tavern for every 12 people. Drink up, me hearties!