The world back thenEdit

Setting the stageEdit

Early modern period, 1500-1800Edit

Early Modern Period: Time of exploration, colonization, and global trade. The Columbian Exchange greatly affected almost every society on Earth. Widespread exchange of animals, plants, culture, human populations (including slaves), communicable disease, and ideas between the Eastern and Western hemispheres. In the world, capitalist economies and institutions became more sophisticated and globally articulated. This process began in the medieval North Italian city-states, particularly Genoa, Venice, and Milan. The early modern period also saw the rise and beginning of the dominance of the economic theory of mercantilism (hoarding of wealth and colonization ---> stronger state). It also saw the European colonization during the 15th to 19th centuries which resulted in the spread of Christianity around the world.

The Commercial Revolution was a period of European economic expansion, colonialism, and mercantilism which lasted from approximately the 16th century until the early 18th century. It was succeeded in the mid-18th century by the Industrial Revolution. Beginning with the Crusades, Europeans rediscovered spices, silks, and other commodities rare in Europe. This development created a new desire for trade, and trade expanded in the second half of the Middle Ages. European nations, through voyages of discovery, were looking for new trade routes in the 15th and 16th centuries, which allowed the European powers to build vast, new international trade networks. Nations also sought new sources of wealth. To deal with this new-found wealth, new economic theories and practices were created. Because of competing national interest, nations had the desire for increased world power through their colonial empires. The Commercial Revolution is marked by an increase in general commerce, and in the growth of financial services such as banking, insurance, and investing.

Other notable trends of the early modern period include the development of experimental science, the shrinkage of relative distances through improvements in transportation and communications, increasingly rapid technological progress, secularized civic politics and the early authoritarian nation states in various regions of the world.

Proto-globalization distinguished itself from modern globalization on the basis of expansionism, the method of managing global trade, and the level of information exchange. The period of proto-globalization is marked by such trade arrangements as the East India Company, the shift of hegemony to Western Europe, the rise of larger-scale conflicts between powerful nations such as the Thirty Year War, and a rise of new commodities—most particularly slave trade. The Triangular Trade made it possible for Europe to take advantage of resources within the western hemisphere.

With the shift of expansionism by large nations to Western Europe, nations began competing in an effort to achieve world domination. The rise of larger-scale conflicts between these powerful nations over expanding their wealth led to nations taking control over one another’s territory and then moving products and the accumulated wealth of these conquered regions back to the sovereign country. Although conflicts occurred throughout the world between 1600 and 1800, European powers found themselves far more equipped to handle the pressures of war. A quote by Christopher Alan Bayly gives a better interpretation of these advantages by stating, "Europeans became much better at killing people. The savage European ideological wars of the 17th century had created links between war, finance, and commercial innovation which extended all these gains. It gave the Continent a brute advantage in world conflicts which broke out in the 18th century. Western European warfare was peculiarly complicated and expensive, partly because it was amphibious."

The Atlantic Slave TradeEdit

The vast majority of slaves involved in the Atlantic trade were Africans from the central and western parts of the continent, who were sold by Africans to European slave traders, who transported them across the ocean to the colonies in North and South America. There, the slaves were forced to labor on coffee, tobacco, cocoa, cotton and sugar plantations, toil in gold and silver mines, in rice fields, the construction industry, timber for ships, or in houses to work as servants.

The slave traders were, in order of scale: the Portuguese, the British, the French, the Spanish, the Dutch, and Americans. These traders had outposts on the African coast where they purchased people from local African tribal leaders. Current estimates are that about 12 million were shipped across the Atlantic, although the actual number of people taken from their homes is considerably higher.

Slavery was one element of a three-part economic cycle — the triangular trade and its Middle Passage — which ultimately involved four continents, four centuries and millions of people.

The first side of the triangle was the export of goods from Europe to Africa. A number of African kings and merchants took part in the trading of enslaved people from 1440 to about 1833. For each captive, the African rulers would receive a variety of goods from Europe. These included guns, ammunition and other factory made goods. The second leg of the triangle exported enslaved Africans across the Atlantic Ocean to the Americas and the Caribbean Islands. The third and final part of the triangle was the return of goods to Europe from the Americas. The goods were the products of slave-labour plantations and included cotton, sugar, tobacco, molasses and rum.

The first slaves to arrive as part of a labor force appeared in 1502 on the island of Hispaniola (now Haiti and the Dominican Republic). Cuba received its first four slaves in 1513. Slave exports to Honduras and Guatemala started in 1526. The first enslaved Africans to reach what would become the US arrived in January of 1526 as part of a Spanish attempt at colonizing South Carolina near Jamestown. By November the 300 Spanish colonists were reduced to a mere 100 accompanied by 70 of their original 100 slaves. The enslaved people revolted and joined a nearby native population while the Spanish abandoned the colony altogether. Colombia received its first enslaved people in 1533. El Salvador, Costa Rica and Florida began their stint in the slave trade in 1541, 1563 and 1581 respectively.

The 17th century saw an increase in shipments with enslaved people arriving in the English colony of Jamestown, Virginia in 1619, although these first kidnapped Africans were classed as indentured servants and freed after seven years; chattel slavery entered Virginia law in 1656. Irish immigrants brought slaves to Montserrat in 1651, and in 1655, slaves arrived in Belize.

The plantation economies of the New World were built on slave labor. Seventy percent of the enslaved people brought to the new world were used to produce sugar, the most labor-intensive crop. The rest were employed harvesting coffee, cotton, and tobacco, and in some cases in mining. The West Indian colonies of the European powers were some of their most important possessions, so they went to extremes to protect and retain them.

Early modern warfareEdit

Early modern warfare is associated with the start of the widespread use of gunpowder and the development of suitable weapons to use the explosive, including artillery and handguns such as the arquebus and later the musket, and for this reason the era is also summarized as the age of gunpowder warfare.

The power of aristocracies fell throughout Western Europe during this period in relation to the state. Their 200-400 year old ancestral castles were no longer useful defences against artillery. The nobility's role in warfare was also eroded as the Medieval heavy cavalry lost its central role in battle. The heavy cavalry made up of armored knights had been fading in importance in the Late Middle Ages. The English longbow and the Swiss pike had both proven their ability to devastate larger armed forces of mounted knights. However, the proper use of the longbow required a lifetime of training, making it impossible to amass very large forces.

The proper use of the pike required complex operations in formation and a great deal of fortitude and cohesion by the pikemen, again making amassing large forces difficult. Starting in the early 14th century, plate armour pieces were added to the traditional protective linked mail armour of knights and men-at-arms to guard against the arrows of the longbow and crossbow. By 1415 the first "hand cannons" were deployed by some infantrymen, and the earliest small bore arquebuses, with burning "match locks" appeared on the battlefield in the later 15th century

The flintlock musket, carried by most infantrymen other than pikemen after 1650, fired a heavier charge and ball than the matchlock arquebus. A recruit could be trained to use a musket in a matter of weeks. Since the early muskets themselves were very inaccurate, training in marksmanship was of little benefit. A musket did not require the great physical strength of a pikeman, or the fairly rare skills of a horseman. Unlike their arquebus predecessors, flintlock muskets could neutralize even the most heavily armoured cavalry forces. Since a firearm requires little training to operate, the order and respect maintained by mounted cavalry in Europe and their Eastern equivalents could now be undermined by a peasant with a gun. Though well-smithed plate armour could still prevent the penetration of gunpowder-weapons, by 1690 it had become no match for massed firearms in a frontal attack and its use ended, even among the cavalry. By the end of the 17th century, soldiers in the infantry and most cavalry units alike preferred the higher mobility to be had from a completely unarmoured state to the slight protection but greatly lessened mobility offered by wearing plate armour.

The Age of SailEdit

The Age of Sail was the period in which international trade and naval warfare were dominated by sailing ships, lasting from the 16th to the mid 19th century. This is a significant period during which square-rigged sailing ships carried European settlers to many parts of the world in one of the most expansive human migrations in recorded history.

Naval tactics in the Age of Sail were used from the early 17th century onward when sailing ships replaced oared galleys.

The line of battle tactic that allowed efficient use of broadside fire was not put into general use until the late 17th century. The interim solution was to make sailing ships fire backwards from the stern, as a defensive measure, or forward from the bow, as an offensive measure. The latter was only partially achieved either by canting (angling) the side guns towards the bow or stern as far as the ship structure would allow, or to place guns on the sterncastle and fire them in an arc on either side of the forecastle. Both solutions were problematic since they created a blind spot dead ahead and made it especially difficult to hit low-lying targets, like galleys. The method that was deemed most effective by contemporaries was to simply counter the threat of galleys with other galleys.

Despite the technical innovations, naval cannon gunfire also remained grossly inaccurate except at very close ranges. Difficulties in achieving standardization in metallurgy meant that all guns allowed for considerable "windage", meaning that bore diameters were about 10 percent larger than the ammunition. Combined with inefficient gunpowder and the difficulties inherent in firing accurately from moving platforms meant that naval tactics for sailing ships throughout the 16th century remained focused on boarding as a means of decisive victory.[6]

Naval tactics in the Age of Sail were primarily determined by the sailing and fighting qualities of the sailing warships of the time. Three factors, in particular, constrained what a sailing admiral could order his fleet to do.

  • The first constraint was that, like all sailing vessels, sailing warships cannot sail directly into the wind. Most could sail not much closer than 70 degrees off the wind. This limited the maneuverability of a fleet during battles at close quarters. Holding the weather gage, i.e. being upwind of one's opponent, conferred considerable tactical advantage.
  • The second constraint was that the ships of the time carried their guns in two large batteries, one on each broadside, with only a few mounted to fire directly ahead or astern. The sailing warship was immensely powerful on its sides, but very weak on its bow and stern. The sides of the ship were built with strong timbers, but the stern, in particular, was fragile with a flimsy structure round the large windows of the officers’ cabins. The bows and, particularly, the sterns of the ship were vulnerable to raking fire. Raking another ship by firing the length of a ship from either the bow or stern caused tremendous damage, because a single shot would fly down the length of the decks, while the ship being raked could not return fire with her broadsides.
  • The third constraint was the difficulty of communicating at sea. Written communication was almost impossible in a moving fleet, while hailing was extremely difficult above the noise of wind and weather. So admirals were forced to rely on a pre-arranged set of signal flags hoisted aboard the admiral's flagship. In the smoke of battle, these were often hard or impossible to see.

The 16th century saw the development of the man-of-war, a truly ocean-going warship, carrying square-rigged sails that permitted tacking into the wind, and heavily armed with cannon. The adoption of heavy guns necessitated their being mounted lower down than on top of the fore and after castles as previously where anti-personnel weapons had been positioned through the later Middle Ages, due to the possibility of capsizing. This meant that what had earlier been the hold of a ship that could be used either as a merchant ship or warship was now full with cannon and ammunition. Hence ships became specialised as warships, which would lead to a standing fleet instead of one based on placing temporary contracts.

The man-of-war eventually rendered the galley obsolete except for operations close to shore in calm weather. With the development of the sailing man-of-war, and the beginning of the great sailing fleets capable of keeping the sea for long periods together, came the need for a new adaptation of old principles of naval tactics.

Holding the weather, or windward, gage conferred several important tactical advantages. The admiral holding the weather gage held the tactical initiative, able to accept battle by bearing down on his opponent or to refuse it, by remaining upwind. The fleet with the lee gage could avoid battle by withdrawing to leeward, but could not force action. Even retreating downwind could be difficult once two fleets were at close quarters because the ships risked being raked as they turned downwind. A second disadvantage of the leeward gage was that in anything more than a light wind, a sailing ship that is sailing close hauled (or beating) will heel to leeward under the pressure of the wind on its sails. The ships of a fleet on the leeward gage heel away from their opponents, exposing part of their bottoms to shot. If a ship is penetrated in an area of the hull that is normally under water, she is then in danger of taking on water or even sinking when on the other tack. This is known as "hulled between wind and water". Finally, smoke from the gunfire of the ships to windward would blow down on the fleet on the leeward gage. So it was common for battles to involve days of manoeuvring as one admiral strove to take the weather gage from his opponent in order to force him to actionOnly in heavy weather could the windward gage become a disadvantage, because the lower gun ports on the leeward side of a ship would be awash, preventing her from opening her lower-deck ports to use the guns – or risking being swamped if she did. So, in strong winds, a ship attacking from windward would not be able to bring her heavy lower-deck guns into action, while the enemy ship to leeward would have no such problem as the guns on her windward side would be raised by the heel.

Things you oughta knowEdit

*Mariners and explorers for most of history struggled to determine precise longitude. (Navigation quite imperfect)

Accurate time-keeping is necessary for the determination of longitude.[24] As early as 1530, precursors to modern techniques were being explored.[24] However, the most accurate clocks available to these early navigators were water clocks and sand clocks, such as hourglass.[24] Hourglasses were still in use by the Royal Navy of Britain until 1839 for the timing of watches

  • Navigation in the 1600's was very primitive compared to modern day. Sailors depended on the compass and their knowledge of the stars to pinpoint locations. Until the compass, a device with a magnetic needle that always points north, was perfected in the late 15th century, ships stayed pretty close to home except for the very brave or foolhardy. They used very primitive tools such as a jackstaff to help compute their position. With a jackstaff, sailors could measure the Pole Star's distance from the horizon and find their position at sea. Another device was the lead and line. A sailor held a lead weighted with lead over the side on the ship to measure the depth of the water. The navigator would point the straight edge of a quadrant at the pole star or midday sun to measure its height in the sky. This would tell him how far to the North or South the ship was. A divider was used to measure distances on charts and could determine how much farther it was to the ship's destination, and how far the ship had already traveled. A traverse board was used together with a compass and sand glass. Every half-hour the pegs were moved to show the direction and distance traveled by the ship. Another device was the astrolabe which was suspended for a ring, and the naviagator moved the alidade, or central rod, until it lined up with the North Star or the sun. Practical experience was as important as instruments. A good navigator could judge the depth of the water by its color and he would watch the sky for birds and and sea for floating debris or twigs. Both might be signs of land.
  • Golden Age pirate ships didn't have bathrooms. Instead, they had seats of easement in the beakhead, a platform at the fore of the ship. Ships without a beakhead used pipes to carry waste from the seats to the ocean.
  • Most pirates used fast, maneuverable ships called sloops. Sloops could carry around 75 men and around 14 small cannons. They had shallow draughts, so they could travel into shallow water to evade or pursue other ships. Pirates in the 17th and 18th centuries also used schooners, which were American versions of sloops, and brigantines, which could hold about twice as many men as sloops.
  • Pirates' plunder consisted mainly of tobacco, rum, sugar and ordinary supplies.
  • Many codes of conduct listed death as the punishment for crimes like stealing or smuggling women on board. Another punishment was keelhauling, in which the offending pirate was tied to a rope and dragged under the keel of the boat. Keelhauling usually resulted in death by drowning, and the barnacles attached to the hull of the ship could rip the offending pirate's skin and clothing to shreds. Walking the plank, however, is a literary invention, not an actual pirating practice.
  • A number of factors can affect a ship's speed, including:
  • The smoothness of the hull and its size and shape
  • The weight of the cargo
  • The number and size of the sails and how they're rigged

Pirates and sailors had some control over all of these factors. They could periodically beach their ship and careen the hull by scraping the barnacles from it. They could also abandon, sell or store unneeded cargo. Skilled sailors knew how to get the most power from their sails as well.

  • When bored of their other offshore activities, “pirates held mock trials, mimicking what would happen to them if they were captured and came up before an admiralty court,” says historian Nigel Cawthorne. One pirate was the judge. The Captain and his officers carried handspikes as a display of their authority and a hangman stood nearby with a noose. The accused was then brought before the mock court. Sometimes the pirates’ theatrical proceedings became so heated that the accused actually believed he was going to be hanged.

After rum's development in the Caribbean, the drink's popularity spread to Colonial North America. To support the demand for the drink, the first rum distillery in the British colonies of North America was set up in 1664 on present-day Staten Island. Boston, Massachusetts had a distillery three years later.[11] The manufacture of rum became early Colonial New England's largest and most prosperous industry.[12] New England became a distilling center due to the technical, metalworking and cooperage skills and abundant lumber; the rum produced there was lighter, more like whiskey. Rhode Island rum even joined gold as an accepted currency in Europe for a period of time.[13] Estimates of rum consumption in the American colonies before the American Revolutionary War had every man, woman, or child drinking an average of 3 imperial gallons (14 l) of rum each year.[14]

To support this demand for the molasses to produce rum, along with the increasing demand for sugar in Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries, a labor source to work the sugar plantations in the Caribbean was needed. A triangular trade was established between Africa, the Caribbean, and the colonies to help support this need.[15] The exchange of slaves, molasses, and rum was quite profitable, and the disruption to the trade caused by the Sugar Act in 1764 may have even helped cause the American Revolution.[14]

The popularity of rum continued after the American Revolution, with George Washington insisting on a barrel of Barbados rum at his 1789 inauguration.[16]

Rum started to play an important role in the political system; candidates attempted to influence the outcome of an election through their generosity with rum. The people would attend the hustings to see which candidate appeared more generous. The candidate was expected to drink with the people to show that he was independent and truly a republican. In the 1833 Mississippi state senate election, one candidate, Judge Edward Turner, poured his drinks and socialized with the people. He was more personal and it appeared as if he was going to win. The other candidate, a Methodist parson named Dick Stewart, announced that he would not be pouring their drinks and they could have as much as they wanted; Dick Stewart won.[17][18]

Eventually the restrictions on rum from the British islands of the Caribbean, combined with the development of American whiskey, led to a decline in the drink's popularity.

The Golden Pirate AgeEdit

A pirate's life for meEdit

Life aboard pirate ships was more democratic than elsewhere, as the captain was not a draconian or arbitrary figure, and was elected and replaced often enough. Articles of agreement would be drafted for pirate ships, with majority rule. In fact, pirate ships were heavenly compared to naval ships, especially those of Mother England, which would pressgang innocent saps into essential slavery (chains and all), and every mariner was treated like a dog while the admiral enjoyed all the spoils. Corrupt officers would often "tax" their crews' wage to supplement their own and the Royal Navy of the day was infamous for its reluctance to pay

Both the captain and the quartermaster were elected by the crew; they, in turn, appointed the other ship's officers. The captain of a pirate ship was often a fierce fighter in whom the men could place their trust, rather than a more traditional authority figure sanctioned by an elite. However, when not in battle, the quartermaster usually had the real authority. Many groups of pirates shared in whatever they seized; pirates injured in battle might be afforded special compensation similar to medical or disability insurance.

That being said, while the pirate's life was full of adventure, but it was far from a carefree jaunt. Apart from mortal peril, the typical occupational hazards included isolation, stress, and fatigue. Working in damp and cold conditions often was inevitable, despite best efforts to avoid severe storms while at sea. The pirate diet often included spoiled meat, bitter water tainted with algae, and hard tack, which was like a very hard cracker that didn't spoil as quickly as ordinary bread. Even so, a ship's store of hard tack was often infested with small bugs called weevils.

The pirate code: Ships imposed their ideas of justice upon the crew of the ship that they captured. After capture, the crew would be questioned as to whether they had suffered cruel or unjust treatment from the commander of the ship. Any commanders "against whom Complaint was made" would be punished or even executed. This punishment was not indiscriminately given to all ship's commanders. An "honest Fellow that never abused any Sailors" would be rewarded, and sometimes freed. This distribution of justice was seen as of profound importance by pirates.

Each crew member was asked to sign or make his mark on the articles, then swear an oath of allegiance or honor. The oath was sometimes taken on a Bible, but John Phillips' men, lacking a Bible, swore on an axe.[1] Legend suggests that other pirates swore on crossed pistols, swords, or on a human skull, or astride a cannon. This act formally inducted the signer into the pirate crew, generally entitling him to vote for officers and on other "affairs of moment," to bear arms, and to his share of the plunder. The articles having been signed, they were then posted in a prominent place, often the door of the grand cabin.

After a piratical cruise began, new recruits from captured ships would sometimes sign the articles, in some cases voluntarily, in other cases under threat of torture or death. Valuable sea artists, such as carpenters and navigators, were especially likely to be forced to sign articles under duress, and would rarely be released regardless of their decision to sign or not. In some cases, even willing recruits would ask the pirates to pretend to force them to sign, so that they could plead they were forced should they ever be captured by the law. Generally, men who had not signed the articles had a much better chance of acquittal at trial if captured by the law.

Few pirate articles have survived, because pirates on the verge of capture or surrender usually burned their articles or threw them overboard, to prevent the papers being used against them at trial.

1650-1680 buccaneeringEdit

Some historians mark the beginning of the Golden Age of Piracy at around 1650, when the end of the Wars of Religion allowed European countries to resume the development of their colonial empires. This involved considerable seaborne trade, and a general economic improvement: there was money to be made—or stolen—and much of it traveled by ship.

French buccaneers had established themselves on northern Hispaniola as early as 1625,[15] but lived at first mostly as hunters rather than robbers; their transition to full-time piracy was gradual and motivated in part by Spanish efforts to wipe out both the buccaneers and the prey animals on which they depended. The buccaneers' migration from Hispaniola's mainland to the more defensible offshore island of Tortuga limited their resources and accelerated their piratical raids. According to Alexandre Exquemelin, a buccaneer and historian who remains a major source on this period, the Tortuga buccaneer Pierre Le Grand pioneered the settlers' attacks on galleons making the return voyage to Spain.

The growth of buccaneering on Tortuga was augmented by the English capture of Jamaica from Spain in 1655. The early English governors of Jamaica freely granted letters of marque to Tortuga buccaneers and to their own countrymen, while the growth of Port Royal provided these raiders with a far more profitable and enjoyable place to sell their booty. In the 1660s, the new French governor of Tortuga, Bertrand d'Ogeron, similarly provided privateering commissions both to his own colonists and to English cutthroats from Port Royal. These conditions brought Caribbean buccaneering to its zenith.

The Pirate Round of the 1690sEdit

A number of factors caused Anglo-American pirates, some of whom had cut their teeth during the buccaneering period, to look beyond the Caribbean for treasure as the 1690s began. The fall of Britain's Stuart kings had restored the traditional enmity between Britain and France, thus ending the profitable collaboration between English Jamaica and French Tortuga. The devastation of Port Royal by an earthquake in 1692 further reduced the Caribbean's attractions by destroying the pirates' chief market for fenced plunder.[16] Caribbean colonial governors began to discard the traditional policy of "no peace beyond the Line," under which it was understood that war would continue (and thus letters of marque would be granted) in the Caribbean regardless of peace treaties signed in Europe; henceforth, commissions would be granted only in wartime, and their limitations would be strictly enforced. Furthermore, much of the Spanish Main had simply been exhausted; Maracaibo alone had been sacked three times between 1667 and 1678,[17] while Río de la Hacha had been raided five times and Tolú eight.[18]

At the same time, England's less favored colonies, including Bermuda, New York, and Rhode Island, had become cash-starved by the Navigation Acts. Merchants and governors eager for coin were willing to overlook and even underwrite pirate voyages; one colonial official defended a pirate because he thought it "very harsh to hang people that brings in gold to these provinces."[19] Although some of these pirates operating out of New England and the Middle Colonies targeted Spain's remoter Pacific coast colonies well into the 1690s and beyond, the Indian Ocean was a richer and more tempting target. India's economic output dwarfed Europe's during this time, especially in high-value luxury goods like silk and calico which made ideal pirate booty;[20] at the same time, no powerful navies plied the Indian Ocean, leaving both local shipping and the various East India companies' vessels vulnerable to attack. This set the stage for the famous piracies of Thomas Tew, Henry Every, Robert Culliford and (although his guilt remains controversial) William Kidd.

Early 18th Century piracy after the War of Spanish SuccessionEdit

Between 1713 and 1714, a succession of peace treaties was signed which ended the War of the Spanish Succession (also called 'Queen Anne's War'). With the end of this conflict, thousands of seamen, including Britain's paramilitary privateers, were relieved of military duty. The result was a large number of trained, idle sailors at a time when the cross-Atlantic colonial shipping trade was beginning to boom. In addition, Europeans who had been pushed by unemployment to become sailors and soldiers involved in slaving were often enthusiastic to abandon that profession and turn to pirating, giving pirate captains for many years a constant pool of trained European recruits to be found in west African waters and coasts.

In 1715, pirates launched a major raid on Spanish divers trying to recover gold from a sunken treasure galleon near Florida. The nucleus of the pirate force was a group of English ex-privateers, all of whom would soon be enshrined in infamy: Henry Jennings, Charles Vane, Samuel Bellamy, and Edward England. The attack was successful, but contrary to their expectations, the governor of Jamaica refused to allow Jennings and their cohorts to spend their loot on his island. With Kingston and the declining Port Royal closed to them, Jennings and his comrades founded a new pirate base at Nassau, on the island of New Providence in the Bahamas, which had been abandoned during the war. Until the arrival of governor Woodes Rogers three years later, Nassau would be home for these pirates and their many recruits.

Shipping traffic between Africa, the Caribbean, and Europe began to soar in the 18th century, a model that was known as triangular trade, and was a rich target for piracy. Trade ships sailed from Europe to the African coast, trading manufactured goods and weapons for slaves. The traders would then sail to the Caribbean to sell the slaves, and return to Europe with goods such as sugar, tobacco and cocoa. Another triangular trade saw ships carry raw materials, preserved cod, and rum to Europe, where a portion of the cargo would be sold for manufactured goods, which (along with the remainder of the original load) were transported to the Caribbean, where they were exchanged for sugar and molasses, which (with some manufactured articles) were borne to New England. Ships in the triangular trade made money at each stop.[21]

As part of the war's settlement, Britain obtained the asiento, a Spanish government contract, to supply slaves to Spain's new world colonies, providing British traders and smugglers more access to the traditionally closed Spanish markets in America. This arrangement also contributed heavily to the spread of piracy across the western Atlantic at this time. Shipping to the colonies boomed simultaneously with the flood of skilled mariners after the war. Merchant shippers used the surplus of sailors' labor to drive wages down, cutting corners to maximize their profits, and creating unsavory conditions aboard their vessels. Merchant sailors suffered from mortality rates as high or higher than the slaves being transported (Rediker, 2004). Living conditions were so poor that many sailors began to prefer a freer existence as a pirate. The increased volume of shipping traffic also could sustain a large body of brigands preying upon it.

Famous pirates (jumping off point)Edit


Edward Teach (c. 1680 – 22 November 1718), better known as Blackbeard, was a notorious English pirate who operated around the West Indies and the eastern coast of the American colonies.

He settled on the Caribbean island of New Providence, a base for Captain Benjamin Hornigold, whose crew Teach joined sometime around 1716. Hornigold placed him in command of a sloop he had captured, and the two engaged in numerous acts of piracy. Their numbers were boosted by the addition to their fleet of two more ships, one of which was commanded by Stede Bonnet, but toward the end of 1717 Hornigold retired from piracy, taking two vessels with him.

Teach captured a French merchant vessel, renamed her Queen Anne's Revenge, and equipped her with 40 guns. He became a renowned pirate, his cognomen derived from his thick black beard and fearsome appearance; he was reported to have tied lit fuses under his hat to frighten his enemies. He formed an alliance of pirates and blockaded the port of Charleston, South Carolina. After successfully ransoming its inhabitants, he ran Queen Anne's Revenge aground on a sandbar near Beaufort, North Carolina. He parted company with Bonnet, settling in Bath Town, where he accepted a royal pardon. But he was soon back at sea and attracted the attention of Alexander Spotswood, the Governor of Virginia. Spotswood arranged for a party of soldiers and sailors to try to capture the pirate, which they did on 22 November 1718. During a ferocious battle, Teach and several of his crew were killed by a small force of sailors led by Lieutenant Robert Maynard.

A shrewd and calculating leader, Teach spurned the use of force, relying instead on his fearsome image to elicit the response he desired from those he robbed. Contrary to the modern-day picture of the traditional tyrannical pirate, he commanded his vessels with the permission of their crews and there is no known account of his ever having harmed or murdered those he held captive. He was romanticised after his death and became the inspiration for a number of pirate-themed works of fiction across a range of genres.

Black BartEdit

Bartholomew Roberts (17 May 1682 – 10 February 1722), born John Roberts, was a Welsh pirate who raided ships off America and West Africa between 1719 and 1722. He was the most successful pirate of the Golden Age of Piracy.[1] He is estimated to have captured over 470 vessels.[2] He is also known as Black Bart (Welsh: Barti Ddu), but this name was never used in his lifetime,[3] and also risks confusion with Black Bart of the American West. He also had "Sunday services" on his first vessel.

After his exploits in Newfoundland the Governor of New England commented that "one cannot with-hold admiration for his bravery and courage".[41] He hated cowardice, and when the crews of 22 ships in Trepassey harbour fled without firing a shot he was angry at their failure to defend their ships.[42]

Roberts was the archetypal pirate captain in his love of fine clothing and jewelry, but had some traits unusual in a pirate, notably a preference for drinking tea rather than rum. He is often described as a teetotaler and a Sabbatarian, but there is no proof of this. He certainly disliked drunkenness while at sea, but Johnson does not state that he was a teetotaller and implies that he drank beer.[43] The claim that he was a Sabbatarian is based on the article stating that the musicians were not obliged to play on Sundays, but this may merely have been intended to ensure the musicians a day's rest, as they were obliged to play music whenever the crew demanded it of them on other days. Ironically, Roberts' final defeat was facilitated by the drunkenness of his crew.

Black Bart was not as cruel to prisoners as some pirates, such as Edward Low, but did not treat them as well as did Howell Davis or Edward England. Johnson says that he would sometimes ill-use prisoners if he felt that the crew demanded it, but:

When he found that rigour was not expected from his people (for he often practised it to appease them), then he would give strangers to understand that it was pure inclination that induced him to a good treatment of them, and not any love or partiality to their persons; "For", says he, "there is none of you but will hang me, I know, whenever you can clinch me within your power."[44]

Roberts sometimes gave cooperative captains and crew of captured ships gifts, such as pieces of jewelry or items of captured cargo.

In 1997, the claim was put forward in Women Pirates and the Politics of the Jolly Roger, edited by Gabriel Kuhn and Tyler Austin, that Bartholomew Roberts was a female transvestite. It was argued that Roberts' corpse was thrown overboard to conceal this fact. The book did not explain why, if Roberts were a woman, "she" would draw up articles that provided the death penalty for bringing a woman aboard in disguise, which would have led to "her" own death had "she" been discovered. Other than the disposal of Roberts' body, no evidence was produced to support the thesis, and it has not been accepted by the majority of nautical historians. Whatever the truth of Roberts' gender, he could not possibly have been Anne Bonny in disguise, as some supporters of the thesis have claimed. Bonny was aboard Calico Jack Rackham's sloop, cruising off Jamaica in October 1720, at the same time that Roberts, on the Royal Fortune, was in the mid-Atlantic trying to reach the Cape Verde islands.

Calico Jack and his merry maidsEdit

John Rackham (21 December 1682 – 18 November 1720[1]), commonly known as Calico Jack, was an English pirate captain operating in the Bahamas during the early 18th century (Rackham is often spelled as Rackam or Rackum in historical documentation). His nickname was derived from the calico clothing he wore.[3]

Active towards the end (1717–1720) of the "golden age of piracy" (1690–1730) Rackham is most remembered for two things: the design of his Jolly Roger flag, a skull with crossed swords, which contributed to the popularization of the design, and for having two female crew members (Mary Read and Rackham's lover Anne Bonny).

After deposing Charles Vane from his captaincy, Rackham cruised the Leeward Islands, Jamaica Channel and Windward Passage. He accepted a pardon some time in 1719 and moved to New Providence where he met and married Anne Bonny. When Rackham returned to piracy in 1720, by stealing a British sloop, she joined him. Their new crew included Mary Read, disguised as a man. After a short run he was captured by pirate hunter Jonathan Barnet in 1720, before being hanged in November of the same year in Spanish Town, Jamaica.


Whilst in port Rackham began an affair with Anne Bonny, wife of James Bonny, a former pirate turned informant for the British government. After finding out about the relationship, James Bonny brought Anne to Governor Rogers, a close friend, who ordered her whipped on charges of adultery. Rackham offered to buy Anne in a "divorce by purchase," but she refused to be sold like an animal.[7] The pair (with a new crew) escaped to sea together, voiding Rackham's pardon, by tricking guards on the British ship "Curlew." They sailed the Caribbean for several months, overtaking other pirate ships. Often Rackham would invite the crew of ships he attacked to join his own.

The majority of Rackham’s crew is believed to not have known Bonny’s true sex. According to most accounts, Anne soon became pregnant with Rackham’s child, variously stating that there are no records of the birth or that Anne gave birth in Cuba but the baby was premature and died of a tumor. Some time after the pregnancy Rackham happened upon a Dutch merchant vessel, upon which Mary Read was a sailor. Mary "Mark" Read was an illegitimate child from England born sometime around 1690. Read's mother would dress her like a boy to pass her off as her older deceased brother, as well as to obtain financial support from Mary’s paternal grandmother. As a teenager Read ran away and joined the army, there she fell in love with another soldier, married and opened an inn in Holland. A few years later her husband met an untimely death. Mary decided to dress like a man and go to sea.

Not originally realizing her gender, Rackham welcomed Mary Read aboard his ship to join his crew. Anne Bonny started to have feelings for Read, and after flirting with Read, Mary revealed her sex to Anne by exposing her breasts. Rackham, becoming jealous of the amount of attention Bonny was giving Mary Read, threatened to kill Read. Rackham reportedly burst in upon them in a cabin, finding them partially undressed. Despite learning the secret of her sex, Rackham nevertheless welcomed Mary into his crew. Others hold that Mary fell in love with a different male crew member.

During the autumn of 1720 Rackham cruised near Jamaica, capturing numerous small fishing vessels, and terrorizing fishermen and women along the northern coastline. During November 1720, he came across a small vessel filled with nine English pirates. Soon after, Rackham's ship was attacked by an armed sloop sent by Governor Nicholas Lawes, and was captured. Rackham and his crew were brought to Jamaica, where he and nearly all of his crew members were sentenced to be hanged.

Thomas TewEdit

Thomas Tew (died 1695), also known as the Rhode Island Pirate, was a 17th century English privateer-turned-pirate. Although he embarked on only two major piratical voyages, and met a bloody death on the latter journey, Tew pioneered the route which became known as the Pirate Round. Many other famous pirates, including Henry Every and William Kidd, would follow in Tew’s path.

Henry EveryEdit

Henry Every, also Avery or Avary, (c. 1653/59 – after 1696), sometimes given as John Avery,[n 1] was an English pirate who operated in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans in the mid-1690s. He likely used several aliases throughout his career, including Benjamin Bridgeman, and was known as Long Ben to his crewmen and associates.[n 2] The most notorious pirate of his time, Every is most famous for being one of the few major pirate captains to retire with his loot without being arrested or killed in battle, and also for being the perpetrator of what has been called the most profitable pirate raid in history.[6]

Every is thought to have been born sometime between c. 1653 and c. 1659 in Devon, England, or the surrounding area. Little is known about his early life, but he likely began his career as a slave trader active along the West African coast in the early 1690s. In May 1694, Every was serving as first mate aboard the privateer Charles II, hired by the Spanish to prey on French vessels in Martinique. Following repeated payment delays most of the crew mutinied while the ship was docked in Corunna, renaming the ship to Fancy and electing Every as the new captain. With a course set for Madagascar, the Fancy captured three English merchantmen at the Cape Verde islands, later robbing two Danish vessels near São Tomé and Príncipe in October, the first acts of piracy by Every and his crew.

By September 1695 the Fancy had reached the Arabian Sea, where the treasure-laden Grand Mughal ship Ganj-i-Sawai and its escort, the Fateh Muhammed, were making their annual pilgrimage from Mecca. Joining forces with several nearby pirate vessels, Every found himself in command of a small pirate squadron, including a sloop captained by English pirate Thomas Tew. As the pirates gave chase, the smaller pirate vessels gradually fell behind, and at some point Tew was killed in an engagement with a Mughal vessel.[7] Every had more success, however, overtaking the Ganj-i-Sawai and snapping its mainmast in a cannonball volley. Following several hours of ferocious hand-to-hand combat on deck, the pirates emerged victorious. Although "many" pirates were reportedly killed,[8] the payoff was astonishing—Every had captured up to £600,000 in precious metals and jewels, making him the richest pirate in the world.

In response to Every's attack on the Mughal convoy, a combined bounty of £1,000 (considered massive by the standards of the time) was offered for his capture by the Privy Council and East India Company, leading to the first worldwide manhunt in recorded history.[9] Nevertheless, Every eluded capture. He briefly sheltered in New Providence, a known pirate haven, before sailing to Ireland and disappearing from all records in 1696; his whereabouts and activities after this period are unknown. Unconfirmed accounts state he may have changed his name and retired, quietly lived out the rest of his life in either Britain or an unidentified tropical island, dying sometime after 1696. While Every's career as a pirate lasted only a few years, his exploits captured the public's imagination and were written about by many contemporary authors, including Daniel Defoe.

William KiddEdit

William "Captain" Kidd (c. 1645 – May 23, 1701)[1] was a Scottish sailor remembered for his trial and execution for piracy after returning from a voyage to the Indian Ocean. Some modern historians deem his piratical reputation unjust, as there is evidence that Kidd acted only as a privateer. Kidd's fame springs largely from the sensational circumstances of his questioning before the English Parliament and the ensuing trial. His actual depredations on the high seas, whether piratical or not, were both less destructive and less lucrative than those of many other contemporary pirates and privateers.

Francois L'OllonaisEdit

L'Olonnais first arrived in the Caribbean as an indentured servant during the 1650s. By 1660, his servitude was complete and he began to wander the various islands, before finally arriving in Saint-Domingue and becoming a buccaneer, preying on shipping from the Spanish West Indies and Spanish Main.

A year or two (dates regarding l'Olonnais are unclear) into his piratical career, l'Olonnais was shipwrecked near Campeche, in Mexico. A party of Spanish soldiers attacked l'Olonnais and his crew, killing almost the entire party. L'Olonnais himself survived by covering himself in the blood of others and hiding amongst the dead. After the Spanish departed, l'Olonnais, with the assistance of some slaves, escaped and made his way to Tortuga. A short time later, he and his crew held a town hostage, demanding a ransom from its Spanish rulers. The governor of Havana[who?] sent a ship to kill l'Olonnais' party, but l'Olonnais captured and beheaded the entire raiding crew save one, whom he spared so that a message could be delivered to Havana: "I shall never henceforward give quarter to any Spaniard whatsoever."

In 1667, l'Olonnais sailed from Tortuga with a fleet of eight ships and a crew of six hundred pirates to sack Maracaibo. En route, l'Olonnais crossed paths with a Spanish treasure ship, which he captured, along with its rich cargo of cacao, gemstones and more than 260,000 pieces of eight.

At the time, the entrance to Lake Maracaibo (and thus the city itself) was defended by a fort of sixteen guns that was thought to be impregnable. L'Olonnais approached it from its undefended landward side and took it. He then proceeded to pillage the city, but found that most of the residents had fled and that their gold had been hidden. L'Olonnais' men tracked down the residents and tortured them until they revealed the location of their possessions. They also seized the fort's cannon and demolished most of the town's defence walls to ensure that a hasty retreat was possible.

L'Olonnais himself was an expert torturer, and his techniques included slicing portions of flesh off the victim with a sword, burning them alive, or "woolding", which involved tying knotted rope around the victim's head until their eyes were forced out.

Over the following two months, l'Olonnais and his men raped, pillaged and eventually burned much of Maracaibo before moving south to Gibraltar, on the southern shore of Lake Maracaibo. Despite being outnumbered, the pirates slaughtered 500 soldiers of Gibraltar's garrison and held the city for ransom. Despite the payment of the ransom (20,000 pieces of eight and five hundred cows), l'Olonnais continued to ransack the city, acquiring a total of 260,000 pieces of eight, gems, silverware, silks as well as a number of slaves. The damage l'Olonnais inflicted upon Gibraltar was so great that the city, formerly a major centre for the exportation of cacao, nearly ceased to exist by 1680.

Word of his attack on Maracaibo and Gibraltar reached Tortuga, and l'Olonnais earned a reputation for his ferocity and cruelty and he was given the nickname "Bane of the Spanish" (French: Fléau des Espagnols). Seven hundred pirates enlisted with him when he mounted his next expedition, this time to the Central American mainland, later that year. After pillaging Puerto Cabello, l'Olonnais was ambushed by a large force of Spanish soldiers en route to San Pedro. Only narrowly escaping with his life, l'Olonnais captured two Spanish. Exquemelin wrote:

"He drew his cutlass, and with it cut open the breast of one of those poor Spanish, and pulling out his heart with his sacrilegious hands, began to bite and gnaw it with his teeth, like a ravenous wolf, saying to the rest: I will serve you all alike, if you show me not another way."

Horrified, the surviving Spanish showed l'Olonnais a clear route. However, l'Olonnais and the few men still surviving were repelled, and retreated back to their ship. They ran aground on a sandbar on the coast of Darien, the province of Panama. Unable to dislodge their craft, they headed inland to find food, but were captured by the Kuna tribe in Darién. He was eaten by the natives. Exquemelin wrote that the natives:

"tore him in pieces alive, throwing his body limb by limb into the fire and his ashes into the air; to the intent no trace nor memory might remain of such an infamous, inhuman creature."

Henry MorganEdit

Admiral Sir Henry Morgan (Harri Morgan in Welsh; ca. 1635 – 25 August 1688) was an Admiral of the Royal Navy, a privateer, and a pirate[1][2][3] who made a name for himself during activities in the Caribbean, primarily raiding Spanish settlements. He was one of the most notorious and successful privateers of all time, and one of the most ruthless who worked in the Spanish Main.

An example of a story (of dubious quality)Edit

"...In fact, Zeb Peters would eventually square off against an equally pensive but more philosophically-inclined pirate captain, Trini the Wise, for control over the same small island (which scholarly conjecture locates off the western coast of St. Lucia)--but for very different reasons. Peters had it fixated in his mind that he'd finally seen the womanly apparition after which he'd pined since childhood, ragged robes billowing like a tragic specter in the wee hours, near the outcropping. Trini, on the other hand, thought the island an earthly approximation of her philosophical ideal of paradise (though, reading through her notes on the subject, he never explains why--perhaps he was just getting a bit senile by this point). In any case, both of the captain's ships would sink after their clash, killing both captains and marooning the rest of their crews on the island over which they fought for quite some time. With nothing else to do, it seems that the two sides, after roasting and eating their dead comrades, argued the finer points of their respective captains' philosophical conclusions, though quite imperfectly since they were working off notes in logbooks that they could barely read. No evidence on any of the islands they visited could be found for this narrative (e.g., skeletons), recounted in the journal of one of Trini's men, but he had a ready excuse--he was eventually able to make out Trini's notes in full and was thus able to convince everyone he'd been right all along, compelling everyone to remove every trace of their having set foot on paradise on earth."

The spoken word intro segmentEdit


Rules of improvEdit

1) Say Yes-and!

For a story to be built, whether it is short form or long form, the players have to agree to the basic situation and set-up. The who, what, and where have to be developed for a scene to work.

2) After the `and` add new information.

An improvised scene can't move forward or advance unless we add new information. That is why new information is added after the Yes of Yes-and!

3) Don't Block.

The opposite of saying yes-and is blocking or denial.

4) Avoid Questions.

A form of blocking (in its more subtle form) is asking questions. Questions force our partners to fill in the information or do the work. It is a way of avoiding committing to a choice or a detail. It is playing it safe. However, on more advanced levels, questions can be used to add information or tell your partner the direction to go in.

5) Focus on the Here and Now.

Another useful rule is to keep the focus on the here and now. A scene is about the people in the scene. The change, the struggle, the win or loss will happen to the characters on the stage. Focus on what is going on right this at this moment.

6) Establish the Location!

Good scenes take place somewhere and at sometime. They do not take place on an empty stage. A location can easily be established in one or two lines without breaking the scene.

7) Be Specific- Provide Details!

Details are the lifeblood of moving a scene forward. Each detail provides clues to what is important. Details help provide beat objectives and flesh out characters.

8) Change, Change, Change!

Improv is about character change. The characters in a scene must experience some type of change for the scene to be interesting. Characters need to go on journeys, be altered by revelations, experience the ramifications of their choices and be moved by emotional moments.

1) Give information to your partner

All too often people in an improv scene will start speaking about their favorite topic- themselves and their character. While something is better than nothing- stronger scenes are built on team work.

12) Listen to your partner

Listen to what your partner says, doesn’t say and the way he says it. Each word, gesture or pause provides tons of offers and information. Listening takes us outside of our focus on self and the worry about trying to think of something to say.

13) Respond to your partner

Improv is about what is happening right now and the changes that occur. We need to respond to what is said, unsaid, done and undone by our partner. Building a scene is a joint process and if we don’t respond we make our partner’s efforts meaningless.

14) See the impact of your response

Give your partner a chance to respond to what you said and did. We expect responses and reactions in real life. We should do the same in improv.

20) Have Fun and Relax

Improv should be fun. An audience loves to watch someone having fun. By letting go of fear of failure we commit more, focus more and become more fully.

1) Don't Deny

Denial is the number one reason most scenes go bad. Any time you refuse an Offer made by your partner your scene will almost instantly come to a grinding halt. Example: Player A) "Hi, my name is Jim. Welcome to my store." Player B) "This isn't a store, it's an airplane. And you're not Jim, you're an antelope."

2) Don't ask open ended Questions

Open ended questions (like "Who are you?") are scene killers because they force your partner to stop whatever they are doing and come up with an answer. When you ask your partner and open ended question, you put the burden of coming up with something "interesting" on your partner - so you are no longer doing a scene together but forcing one person has to do more work than you are willing to do.

3) You don't have to be funny.

The hidden riddle of improv is that the harder you try not to be funny the more funny your scene is going to be. Why? Because it's the very best kind of improv scene you can do is an "interesting" scene, not necessarily a "funny" one. When you do an interesting scene, a very surprising thing happens… the funny comes out all by it's self.

The best ways to go are to stick to your character, stick to the story that is being told, and to stay within the reality of the scene you are playing.

4) You can look good if you make your partner look good.

When you are in a scene, the better you make your partner look the better the scene is going to be and, as a direct result, the better you are going to look. All too often, I've seen players enter a scene and I can just tell they have some really great idea about the character they are going to play or an idea they want to do. This is wonderful, but guess what? Your partner probably has absolutely no idea what's cooking in your evil little mind, and so has no idea how to react. And no matter how brilliant your idea might be, it's practically worthless if the scene as a whole goes bad.

5) Tell a story.

Storytelling is probably the easiest rule to remember but the hardest one to do. The real magic of improv is when we see the players take totally random suggestions (like a plumber and a cab driver selling shoes in a leper colony ) and somehow "make it work". If all these unrelated elements are going to come together then it's going to happen in the course of an interesting tale. So that's just what the players are going to try and do, tell us all a story.

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