With the release of the trailer for Assassin’s Creed Unity, the new game set at the time of the French Revolution, I decided to delve back into my series on the history behind the Assassin’s Creed Franchise.
This time, we travel to the golden age of piracy in the early 1700s with stories of buried treasure and debauchery.
The truth is, pirates were not as exciting as we make them out to be, but they do have some interesting stories and backgrounds that should be shared with the world.
It takes a particular type of person to lead a life of piracy so let’s discover who these people really are.
Note : Most of the information below will be in the video above, but there will be some extra facts that didn’t make it so if you’re really interested – Read on!
All of this information is based on a book called “A General History of Robberies and Murders of the Most Notorious Pyrates” by one Captain Charles Johnson.
Some historians believe that Captain Johnson is actually Daniel Defoe, the author of Robinson Crusoe. Therefore, there’s a fair chance that some of this is made up.
If that’s the case, then he should be applauded for his expansive imagination.
Real name : Edward Teach
He terrorized sailors on the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea from 1716 – 1718.
As a privateer, his patroness was Queen Anne of Britain. This gave him leave to plunder and destroy any French or Spanish ships in his way. It was also why he named his ship Queen Anne’s Revenge.
Now it’s important to know that these three countries (Britain, France and Spain) were constantly at odds with each other over disputed territory in the new world. Sailors who knew the regions well were often hired out to serve on behalf of their country.
Thus privateers were born! To sweeten the deal, privateers were allowed to keep any plunder they “found.”
As you can tell, the line between pirate and privateer is thin.
Black beard had a very specific technique when he boarded an enemy ship. It was his signature. He would kill the man behind the wheel first, from far away, then board the ship up close. This would stop the ship, and the plunder, from getting too far away once they were locked in battle.
He was one of the most feared pirates during the golden age with many different conflicting rumors on how evil he was. Some said it was all artifice, with him putting rope in his hat to look demonic. Others swore that he cut off the fingers of those captives who refused to give over their loot.
Finally, he died in battle after the Governor of the Bahamas crashed his retirement party.
He began his career, as a privateer, as second in command under Blackbeard. He was a British pirate from 1715 – 1718.
After that, he changed sides and became a pirate hunter, betraying his friends and mentor.
In a weird turn of events, he died in 1719 after he was shipwrecked against a reef during a hurricane.
Some may say karma, but who really knows….
Jack Rackham a.k.a Calico Jack
He was Quartermaster under Charles Vane before he got a ship of his own.
After years of piracy, he was pardoned by the Governor of New Providence. While he was there, he managed to find time, in between trips to the brothel, to lure the young Anne Bonny away from her sailor husband.
Thus begins the greatest love story ever told!
He was the only pirate captain to have two females on board, but that’s an other story.
An other interesting fact about Calico Jack is that the modern symbol for piracy, the Jolly Roger, was his flag.
Each pirate had their own recognizable symbol to strike fear and recognition in the heart of their enemies.
Supposedly, when Blackbeard raised his flag. Everyone surrendered.
He was infamous for being cruel, reckless and ignoring the pirate code.
There’s not much more to say about him, but there is one funny story.
Charles Vane was shipwrecked on an abandoned island, left to die.
A Royal Navy ship happened to pass by and Vane asked for passage to the closest port, but the captain immediately recognized him and chose to leave him on the island to die as punishment for his crimes.
Soon after, a second ship passed and saw the wreckage. This time, he was not recognized and managed to get on board. Unluckily for him, ship number 2 bumped into ship number 1, revealing his true identity.
He basically had the worse luck in the world.
She was the bastard daughter of the maid and master of the house. To save her family from embarrassment, she was dressed as a boy and introduced as a cousin.
Due to her odd upbringing, she became sort of the wild child, sleeping around and hanging around sailors. This is how she met her husband and later her lover Calico Jack.
She apparently tore apart mannequins and used animal blood to stage murder. No wonder the merchants were terrified of her!
We must take a step back, however, and remember that history is often written by men. This means that women are often characterized as either pure matrons or wild succubi. There is no middle ground, but as a woman I can say that most of us are more complicated than that.
When Calico Jack was sentenced to be hanged, his last wish was to speak to Anne Bonny. Ever the sentimentalist, Anne Bonny’s last words to Calico Jack were : “If you had fought like a man, you need not have been hang’d like a dog.”
I think that really sums up her state of being : fierce
James Kidd / Mary Read
As a kid, Mary Read was dressed as a boy and rented out to rich households as a servant to help her family make ends meet.
At the age of 13 she secured herself a position as a gun powder boy on a ship, starting her career on the high seas. From then on she went by the pseudonym James Kidd.
Nobody suspected her because she “swore like a sailor” and was always the first to volunteer for dangerous tasks.
She was so convincing that Anne Bonny developed a crush on her. Scared of being found out, Mary Read was forced to reveal her sexe to Anne. She supposedly revealed her breasts as proof.
The two women became even closer as a result and according to some (male) historians they became lovers *rolls eyes.* This sparked the jealousy of Calico Jack to the point of murder. To stop an incident from happening, Mary was forced, once again, to reveal herself. She supposedly revealed her breasts a second time.
Despite the sexism of the time, both women thrived in this environment, becoming part of a legacy of strong women in history.
Just for fun
Happy Pirating 🙂