5
Jul
2017

The Plunder

 The Bahamas witnessed the golden age of piracy. When terror struck the seas and gunfire lashed out of the swirling mists. Merchants lived in constant fear and the aristocracy was mocked at. After all, it was the rulers of the land that gave the Pirates all the initiative they needed.

It began with the Spanish war of succession where privateers were commissioned to capture enemy naval ships along with their cargo. The letter of Marque gave them the official authority to attack as they pleased and things were going great for these privateers. Then the wars ended and they were left to fend for themselves, suddenly undone from the previous patronage. It was a fate none of them was willing to accept.

Soon they began swarming to New Providence and colonising it. A pirate republic was formed in the Bahamas, governed by those sailors that had proven themselves worthy. This period witnesses the rise of ever famous pirates like Edward Teach (Blackbeard), Jack Rackham (Calico) and William Kidd. The Jolly Roger, a black flag adorned with a skull and crossed swords flew high in the air prophesizing doom to all that were unfortunate enough to witness it. Gold, Ivory and spice-laden ships were targeted for their precious booty, with the crew later given a choice between death and joining hands with their captors. The pirates themselves lived by strict laws known as the pirate code with fatal consequences to those that unheeded them. In all fairness to the Pirates, this code gave everyone equal vote and made sure everyone received their share of the captured wealth. Ships had men of all races manning them, some ships made the exception of letting women on board to become fellow pirates.

The government lashed back and it did so with great ruthlessness. A pardon was granted to all who turned themselves in. The men who did so were later put in charge of hunting down their previous comrades. All these pirates were put on public trials and executed. Many such crimes were punished by gibbeting where the bodies were hung in metal displays as a gory warning to others heading down the same path. With all the major pirates annihilated, piracy died out.

The whole scheme of events still continues to be romanticised in popular legend. Pirates and their lives are given an aura of adventure and rebellion. Tales of bravery looped around the essence of misadventure still loom in everyday culture.

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