Saturday, November 15, 2008

Pirates of terror

Of the pirates of yesteryear, perhaps the two most popular ones are Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard and Calico Jack Ratham (rumoured to be the inspiration for Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean). They both reigned and terrorised the Caribbean during what was known as the Golden Age of Piracy.

Blackbeard (British by birth) was one of the most notorious pirates known to plunder the Caribbean islands in the early 18th century. The Queen Anne's Revenge was one of his best known ships. There is much at the Pirates Soul Museum on Blackbeard and I quote the following from Key West's Pirates Soul Museum:
"November 17
18: Famous for his blood-curdling looks and terrifying manner, Blackbeard died during a bloody battle in Ocracoke Inlet, North Carolina. He was killed by the Royal Navy's Lieutenant Robert Maynard. The cause of death was decapitation. It is said that Blackbeard received 20 cutlass slashes and five shots before he finally fell. Blackbeard's reign of terror lasted less than three years but made him a legend. He was survived by 14 wives."

Blackbeard's head was hung from the bow of the ship belonging to his decapitator and was later hung from a pike in Bath. The Museum had a little replica of Blackbeard's head hanging from a pike and though it was just a replica, it was quite gruesome. See for yourself!

Calico Jack Ratham was also and English Pirate and the calico clothes he wore gave him his pirate name. The thing that made Calico Jack most famous was the two female pirates, Anne Bonny (Calico Jack's lover) and Mary Read, whom he hired to be a part of his crew. Anne Bonny disguised herself as a man for long time in order for Calico Jack to have her aboard. Their 'close' relationship forced them to reveal her true identity. One night as the authorities invaded Jack's ship, Anne Bonny and Mary Read were the only ones left to fight off the invaders and held them off as long as they could. Calico Jack and his crew were in too much of a drunken stupor to fight the invasion aboard his ship and were captured. Calico Jack was executed in Port Royal, Jamaica in 1720. As a warning to other pirates and in an attempt to deter them from a life of piracy, Calico Jack's body was tarred and hung in an iron cage and his body was left there to rot. A replica of Calico Jack's body is hung at the Museum beside a sign that reads: Had you fought like a man, you might not have been hanged like a dog - Anne Bonny.

So, whatever happened to Anne Bonny and Mary Read? They pleaded for their lives and 'for their bellies' in Court as they were both pregnant at the time. They were both granted a stay of execution until their babies were born but had to serve that time in prison. Mary Read died in April 1971 during childbirth while, Anne Bonny managed to escape prison. It is said that her father ransomed her out of prison, soon after which she gave birth to Calico Jack's second child. It is also said that she lived out her days in Colonial America and died at the ripe old age of 85.

The other thing that made Calico Jack famous was his version of the Pirate Flag, which was from then on adopted by the other pirates and was recently used in Pirates of the Caribbean movie.

1 comment:

Solid Snake said...

excellent information on the pirates.. u rock!