What do Blackbeard, Anne Bonny, and William Kidd have in common? You can find them all in the elusive occupation of piracy. Although it may only seem like a good movie plot, ocean pirates are threats that still exist today. One researcher states that piracy has “…been romanticized in such films as Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean” (Lunsford, “What Makes Piracy Work?”). This research paper will describe the history of piracy and the differences in techniques used by past and present pirates. I will also discuss the reasons and effects of piracy along with the ways it is being controlled.
The term “piracy” means the act of robbing or behaving with illegal violence at sea (“Piracy”). This trade has been around as far back as the time of Ancient Greece. 2000 years ago, the first ocean raiders attacked Greek trade routes. They stole goods, valuables, and even the entire ship if they felt it was useful. As commerce by waterways became more popular, so did the piracy trend. The period from 1620 to 1720 is more commonly known as the Golden Age of piracy (“Piracy.” A Brief History of Piracy). It was at this time that nations began writing letters of marque. These were official documents allowing a pirate to pillage any foreign vessel and raid enemy ships without punishment. Pirates who split their loot with the country’s government were called privateers. Other robbers, who chose to stay unattached to a nation, could be tried and hung for their criminal actions if caught. The famous story of Blackbeard ended with the pirate’s head being mounted onto the bowsprit of a ship. At the time, most pirates were men because of the superstition that women were bad luck on a boat. However, that didn’t stop women like Anne Bonny from dres...
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