We all know the tales about pirates from the movies. They made their captives walk the plank, they had a parrot on their shoulder, they all looked like Jack Sparrow or Blackbeard. Have you ever thought how many of these “facts” are actually true? If they are just myths, then what is true about pirates? Don’t ye worry matey! Your pirate experts are here to help you out!
- They all looked like Jack Sparrow: MYTH. While we wish all Pirates looked like Sparrow this is sadly not true. Sparrow was actually dressed in what was considered a more expensive outfit. Pirates typically wore old maritime clothing of the time period. Those with more money wore more fancy outfits, that included leather, jewels, etc.
- Pirates were isolated from Colonial Society: MYTH. Pirates had very impressive and extensive communication with those that lived on land. Members of Colonial society kept the Pirates in touch with the outside world, they even had a mail system! The mail system, which included them sending letters back and forth on ships, enabled them to be able to communicate with family and was even a “commuter service” for retiring pirates from their pirate lives in Madagascar to more relaxed living in America.
- Many Pirates had eye patches and peg legs: FACT. Life at sea could be quite harsh for Pirates. Battles and fighting caused many injuries. Pirates and men fought with swords, firearms and cannons. Those in charge of the cannons aboard the ship were in the worst situation. This caused many to lose eyes, injure or sever legs and other problems like deafness from the blast of the cannons.
- They made their captives walk the plank: MYTH. While this is a very common stereotype of Pirates in movies, it’s simply just for the dramatics. Don’t get it wrong, pirates were indeed very brutal. However, many pirate ships had a code of conduct that determined how they treated not only their captives but each other as well. No walking the plank for scallywags or captives on this Pirate Ship!
- Hoist the Jolly Roger!: FACT. One of the few aspects of pirate life that hasn’t altered over the centuries is the use of the pirate flag – the “Jolly Roger”. The term comes from the French Jolie rouge, a reference to the red flag used by privateers in the 17th century. This developed into the black flag with the skull we know today. Skeletons, skills, and weapons all served as a warning of what might happen if a victim refused to surrender.
- They served no useful purpose for society: MYTH. Many scholars believe that Pirates did not serve a meaningful purpose besides being “thieves”. However, they are very wrong. Pirates helped emerging economies by supplying gold and silver coined from captured ships. They brought back exotic food and luxury items. They also gave jobs to unemployed sailors who were treated better aboard pirate ships than merchant ships.
- Pirates buried their treasure: MOSTLY MYTH. There is a myth that pirates buried their stolen goods and gold in some remote places, usually deserted islands, which they can be found only by treasure maps they created. Reality is that buried treasures were uncommon and treasure maps were rare among real pirates. Pirates knew their average lifespan was short so they spent their money as soon as they could, mostly on fun.
It can be quite tricky to determine what is true and what is false about Pirates because all we really have left is the movies like “Pirates of the Caribbean”. However, us Pirates here at John’s Pass are true experts! Want to have fun like a real Pirate? Come climb aboard ye Royal Conquest Scallywag! We would love to have you and ye matey’s aboard. Check out our events and come see us soon!