Pirates are more popular than ever, with new movies and books being released all the time. However, is the famous image of a pirate on his peg with a treasure map and parrot on his shoulders accurate? Facts About Pirates
Do you enjoy reading about the lives, ships, and expeditions of pirates from before and want to know more about them? If you answered yes, you’ve come to the right place! We’ve listed some of the most fun facts and myths about them.
If you’re ready to start rummaging through a treasure box full of information about pirates, let’s get started! Let’s separate the facts from the myths regarding pirates during the Golden Age of piracy which lasted between 1700 and 1725.
Myths About Pirates
- All pirates look like Jack Sparrow.
Although many would wish for all pirates to look like Johnny Depp, that was sadly not possible. Johnny Depp, when he acted as Jack Sparrow, actually wore a more costly outfit. The real pirates back then, on the other hand, wore the most recent maritime clothing from that time period. Some of them were able to afford more expensive outfits that included leather and jewels.
- Pirates lived divorced from colonial society.
Pirates were known to have impressive communication skills. They were kept in touch with the outside world by colonial society members. In fact, they even had a mail
system and could send letters back and forth. It allowed them to stay in touch with their families and even provided a “commuter service” to retire pirates from their life in Madagascar and live a more comfortable life in the United States.
- Pirates made their captives walk the plank.
This is a common stereotype about pirates in movies and novels, but it’s just for dramatic effect. Pirates could be brutal, but they didn’t make their captives walk blindfolded along planks. Instead, pirate ships had a code that governed how they treated their captives and each other.
- Pirates didn’t serve a purpose to society.
Many scholars think that pirates served no other purpose than being just mere “thieves.” However, they are wrong. By supplying silver and gold from pirate-captured ships, pirates helped boost emerging economies. They brought back luxury goods and exotic food and provided jobs for unemployed sailors, who had more comfortable lives aboard pirate ships than on merchant ships.
- Pirates used to bury their treasures.
Rumor has it that pirates used to hide their gold and stolen goods in remote locations, often deserted islands that can only be found by using the treasure maps they created. Realistically, treasure maps and buried treasures were rare back then. Pirates knew that their average life expectancy was very short, so they spent their money quickly and mostly for fun.
Facts About Pirates
- Many pirates used peg legs and eye patches.
It was hard to live at sea, especially if one was in the navy or on a pirate ship. Men fought with cannons, swords, and firearms. The gunners, those who are responsible for the cannons, often had it the worst. A poorly-secured cannon could fly across the deck and inflict serious injury on anyone near it. With these occupational hazards, losing an eye or a leg was not rare to pirates. Some of them even suffered from deafness due to the loud sounds of blasting cannons.
- There were female pirates.
As opposed to what many people know, there were female pirates, too. They were as vicious and lethal as their male counterparts. Anne Bonny and Mary Read accompanied the colorful Calico Jack Rackham and were known for berating him when he conceded. Although it is true that women pirates were not common, they were not unheard of.
- Pirate ships had their own set of codes and rules.
Each pirate ship had its own set of guidelines, which all pirates had to follow. These guidelines included how loot would be split, who was responsible for what, and what was expected from everyone.
Although it might be hard to believe, one of the most important rules was to not fight onboard. Two pirates would have to wait until they could fight on land if they had a dispute.
- Some pirates wore earrings to ward off seasickness.
The earrings that pirates wore were not just to look fashionable. National Geographic states that sailors believed applying pressure to the ears would prevent seasickness. The pirates often used an earring to accomplish this.
However, wearing earrings doesn’t ward off seasickness. While your inner ears can affect your sense of balance, there are no studies proving that earrings placed on your earlobes can help mitigate seasickness.
- Pirates really did have parrots as pets.
Pirates weren’t able to keep large pets like monkeys or dogs on their ships. Parrots were a more strategic and sensible choice for them. According to Angus Konstam, a historian and the author of The History of Pirates, people would spend lots of money buying parrots back then. Pirates could easily purchase them in many ports in the Caribbean.
Now that we’ve already separated the myths from the facts, you surely know more about pirates. However, there are many things regarding the Golden Age of Piracy that we still
don’t know about. But that shouldn’t be a hindrance for you to enjoy sailing and making the most of your John’s Pass pirate ship cruise.