A History of Pirates By Andrew Hovis

Piracy is one of the oldest forms of organized crime the world has ever seen. Pirates have been made famous over the years through literature and movies. There is a sense of wonderment and adventure involved in the pirate way of life, but most people do not actually know much about the origins of piracy, why pirates exist, and what they are actually like.

Pirate ships come in all shapes and sizes throughout history, here is the most famous representation of the "pirate ship"
Hollywood depicted pirates

Piracy: A Timeline

The first accournts of known piracy occur in China, around the 2nd century time period after the fall of Han Dynasty. As early as 1200 BC Roman and Greek ships experienced pirate raids from the Illyrian and Tyrrhenian pirates. Entire crews were amassed and sold into slavery by the pirates at this era

Here are some depictions of the early pirate slave trade. It consisted of men for workers on other ships and to dodgy land owners, and the women were often abused sexually, and sometimes forced to work for certain crews

1st century BC- 4th Century AD

Piracy is starting to gain some footholds in the Ancient World due to the fall of the Han Dynasty in China, and a small amount of European participants as well. Piracy is still gaining momentum during these years, but it wasn't until the early 14th century where piracy really took off.

These are photos depicting first and second century Han Dynasty pirates and their ships. One of the most prevalent differences in this era of piracy was the boats themselves. During this time the ships were huge and slow. The sails they used were also square, which the Chinese boat makers later realized was not as effective as the triangular sails that were used past the end of the 13th century.

13th-14th Century Piracy

A typical ladder up to the crows nest

The late 13th and into the early 14th century is what made piracy begin to grow in numbers and popularity. The popularity of pirates rose due in part to the physical growing groups of pirates worldwide. European piracy started to take off near Germany and France. Another main reason piracy rose was due to the advancement of ship and naval technology. Ships were able to go faster, longer, and carry more people and supplies more efficient than ever before.

15th-16th Century Piracy

These centuries are considered "The Golden Age of Piracy". At this time pirate control of the seas was at an all time high, and some pirates had better naval technologies than major world super powers at the time. The Chinese had controlled all of the Asian sea territories, and were expanding further into Europe until the Ming Dynasty in China gained more power and eventually took back control of its seas, leaving the control of the open seas open to another group. The Spanish and Portuguese were the first countries to attempt coloinzation in the new world, however they were both the two main supplying countries of hostile pirate groups. European piracy was now on a whole new level.

This is what a typical 15-16th European pirate would look like
European rival pirate war depiction

17th- Present Day Piracy

In the end of the sixteenth and into the seventeenth century is called the second golden age of piracy. Famous legends such as Blackbeard roamed the seas at these times pillaging small towns and other vessels. One of the most popular criminal activities pirates undertook were attacks on European trade ships, where valuable gold, people, and other goods were aboard.

Typical pirate deck

Pirates in today's society are mostly off of the coasts of Africa, specifically Somalia. Cruise ships are a popular target for today's pirates, and smaller fishing vessels or tourist ships. Today pirates are able to operate on a fairly sophisticated basis. Granted they do not possess the technology the US or British Navy possesses, but they have ships, and radios, and even have been starting to use submarines in some areas.

Modern day Somalia pirate vessels

It's interesting we as a society hold pirates in the esteem that we do. Their lives and what they did consisted of stealing, raping, pillaging, and abiding no rule but their own.

Works Cited

- https://goo.gl/images/q3hbEv

- https://goo.gl/images/EHUh4x

- https://goo.gl/images/x6rLPm

- https://goo.gl/images/x4CTCv

- https://goo.gl/images/NMUC1j

- https://youtu.be/l7TZrGWjyo

- http://www.famous-pirates.com/pirates-history/piracy-timeline/

- http://www.thewayofthepirates.com/piracy-history/piracy-timeline/

- https://goo.gl/images/1em4xT

- https://goo.gl/images/eHxE2y

- https://goo.gl/images/fYAXN

- https://goo.gl/images/UM4nB6

- https://goo.gl/images/z5kTBg

- https://goo.gl/images/cOj5KE

Created By
Andrew Hovis


Created with images by dimitrisvetsikas1969 - "cyprus cavo greko cruise ship" • dimitrisvetsikas1969 - "coast ship pirates" • jackmac34 - "sailboat boat marin" • michio - "mast pirate ship pirate flag"

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