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Blackbeard: A Pirate and an Actor!

 

There be one pirate that struck fear into all men and women throughout the Caribbean and the colonies in the early 18th Century above all others, the infamous Blackbeard! 

Also known as Edward Teach or Edward Thatch, Blackbeard is easily the most notorious pirate when we look through history n' media. He is very recognizable because of his moniker n' his reputation as a hellish, savage man. One may not suspect it, but the persona of Blackbeard may have been driven more by playing a part than Teach being a savage brute himself.

Someone like Blackbeard would be expected to maintain discipline through the use of brute force, but Teach was actually a very shrewd, calculating leader. He would dress from head to toe in black clothing, and use fire and smoke effects on himself with the express purpose of intimidation. And yet, he commanded his own crews and ships with the respect, n' permission of his crews.

Fer pirates across history, the idea of actually fightin' a bloody battle is actually unappealing fer multiple reasons. Ye would not want to damage any potential plunder, n' ye would certainly not wish to put yarself at risk! Believe it or not, most pirates were likely normal people who also had no desire to kill someone unless they had to.

Most pirates would want a ship to surrender rather than fight. So nowadays we see Blackbeard as a master the art of intimidation n' theatricality. He used his talents and strategy to strike fear into people's hearts to get what he want, as a distinct preference to torture or violence. 

There be no actual accounts of him murdering a prisoner or captive, so violence fer the sake of violence would have been rather out o' character we predict. In a business of calculatin' n' clever businessmen, we suspect he was one o' the most famous.

When ye be lookin' at Blackbeard just remember, he's a hell of an actor!

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The Pirate Fashions Blunderbuss History

Feast yar eyes on the Pirate Fashions Blunderbuss! The ideal weapon for clearing a deck o' enemy sailors, sometimes it be called a Musketoon. This basically be a short, carbine-like musket with a flared barrel. While we discuss the blunderbuss we can bust a few myths!


Because o' its flared barrel-end it is assumed that its primary purpose was that it was a shotgun style weapon, in reality the flared barrel allows the shooter to easily load a weapon with shot. While at sea or on horseback it made loading the weapon much easier because ye could dump your ammo into the barrel without worrying about precision. They were shortened muskets essentially so that also helped with loading. They were indeed great compact weapons for close quarters, but their shotgun status should be regarded with some skepticism. If the barrel's flare had an effect on the shotgun's spread we would see more flared barrels today.

We also have a false perception that "anything" could be loaded into a blunderbuss, but the barrel would not last long firing silverware or debris- ye would destroy it internally. With most blackpowder weapons ye could actually load multiple rounds o' shot into the muzzle (two was recommended if ye were to do so.) Ye could fire multiple metal balls with a musket, pistol or blunderbuss. Ye could also load buckshot (numerous small balls) into a weapon n' use it in a shotgun capacity, similar to how a ship's guns could fire Grapeshot.

Arrr Armory has Firing Blunderbusses from most of the Colonial powers in the Spanish Main, n' we also have non-firing replicas- less expensive, but purely for prop usage. Browse Arrr Selection, we've for English, French, Dutch n' Spanish! http://bit.ly/2raJ4vK

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Bart Roberts, The Tea Drinking Pirate

 

If a Pirate's Success was measured by the sheer number o' ships captured then Bartholomew Roberts be the most Successful Pirate in the Golden Age of Piracy! Posthumously he would be known as "Black Bart," n' while bein' an incredibly accomplished rogue, he is also known for his strict pirate code n' a lack of alcohol. Roberts preferred tea o'er rum! While this may have made him seem like a bit of a dandy, his crew would be unlikely to judge him, for they profited greatly from their Cap'n!

On Bart Roberts' ship a pirate was not allowed to gamble, party below decks after 8:00 in the evenin', or allowed to neglect the maintenance of their blackpowder or melee weaponry. Seducing or kidnapping a woman or a boy, n' bringing them aboard the ship was punishable by death. These be examples o' the policies that he enacted aboard his ships. With his achievements he was allowed to have strict policies.

O'er the course o' his three year career in piracy, Roberts was able to take 400-500 ships. Before he became a pirate, Roberts was a crewman aboard a slaver ship known as the Princess. When pirates captured the ship off the coast of Africa in 1719 he was pressed (forcibly recruited) into the crew as a navigator. He was quite reluctant, but when pirates see an asset, they do not take no for an answer.

Half a year into his pirate career, Roberts was chosen to be the Captain of his kidnappers. He began a pirating spree from Africa to Brazil, the Caribbean n' up the coasts to Canada. Off the coast of Brazil, Roberts was able to covertly capture a Portuguese treasure ship (the wealthiest in its fleet) n' extract it from a guarded fleet o' 42 ships with a two war ship escort. It took weeks of studying n' planning but the haul was estimated to set most men up for life. O'er three years Roberts was estimated to have made the equivalent of 100,000,000+ British Pounds in plunder.

His career was cut short by pirate hunters however. He died fightin' n' became a pirate legend! 

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Anne Bonny and Mary Read, Women of Piracy!

Though Anne Bonny n' Mary Read were likely far from being the only female Buccaneers they certainly be the most famous! They be a dynamic duo that make for quite a piratical tale!

Before Anne met Calico Jack she was married to a poor sailor named James Bonny, business had brought them from England to Nassau where she freely mingled with other pirates n' sailors. She had a reputation for bein' a fiery, confrontational Irish girl. When she got into her affair with Jack Rackham she quickly left her husband fer a life at sea.

As a crewman aboard his ship she had allegedly tried to strike up another affair with a sailor, who in this case turned out to be Mary Read! Read had been disguised as a man to allow her the liberty to pirate freely without dealing with the pressures of bein' a woman in an Age not known for fair treatment of women. The two became close n' it wasn't until Jack became murderously jealous of this "man" that Read's identity was revealed to the crew.

Read (still disguised as a man) had actually fought in one of the several wars that were waged in the early 18th Century between Britain n' Spain, after-which she married an allied Dutch soldier n' made a life in Holland, following his death she sailed to the Caribbean n' became a pirate.

The women sailed the Caribbean with Rackham for about a year before they were captured by English Pirate Hunters and sentenced to hang. Bonny n' Read were able to "plead the belly," meaning they were pregnant, which temporarily exempted them from the noose. Jack was not so lucky, n' met his fate in Kingston. Read unfortunately died in childbirth, n' Bonny may have been executed though there likely would have been a record of it.

There be theories that Anne Bonny returned to her husband in Nassau, her family home in England or perhaps she resumed a life of piracy. The world may never know the rest o' her story! http://bit.ly/2lRL7nb

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The Original Buccaneers

Across history n' the world o'er there have been many who be dubbed "Pirates!" Sometimes ye will have regional varieties that be immediately identifiable by an age old nickname, such as the Barbary Corsairs. Fer Caribbean Pirates ye would likely hear the term Buccaneer. It's certainly popular enough that arrr own Tampa Bucs use it fer their sports team!

Buccaneers have incredibly humble origins, they did not start out as cut throats n' rogues. In the early 17th Century Hispaniola was home to many French hunters who had no land of thar own, who made their living huntin' n' barbecuing wild boar n' other creatures. Thar Smoke Huts were referred to as boucanes, where they cooked all of the meat they harvested from the local wild life usin' Native Caribbean techniques. Effectively they cooked the predecessor to Jerked Meat, as well as Jerky!

Off the coast of these wild islands the "Boucaniers" would see Spanish Treasure ships returning to Europe with New World Riches, as well as the raiders n' early Caribbean pirates that would prey on their cargo. The hunters sold their meats to the pirates n' it didn't take them too long for many o' them to teach the pirates to cook Buccaneer style, n' for the Hunters to learn how to be Pirates!

Usin' thar small sailin' vessels meant to deftly navigate Caribbean islands they learned to creep aboard Spanish merchant ships n' became natural enemies of the Empire. O'ertime the Anglicized word Buccaneer became synonymous with Pirate or Privateer regardless o' nation.

Fer much o' the 17th Century Hispaniola became a large point o' contention between these Buccaneers n' the Spanish. One o' the most popular pirate havens, Tortuga was on a small isle off the northwest coast of Haiti, it was a popular hangout for French Buccaneers!

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A History of Tortuga

The settlement o' Tortuga has been featured prominently in Pirate Fiction o'er time, it's time to learn a little about this humble island! While Port Royal n' Nassau were much more prominent pirate ports, we shouldn't forget that Tortuga also has its own Pirate History.

Tortuga Island (Turtle Island) was a small island off the coast of Modern Haiti, or Hispanola as it was dubbed in the Colonial Era. Allegedly, when Christopher Colombus sailed into the Caribbean in 1492, he saw the Island n' named it for its Turtle shell shape.

It picked up a small colony of Spanish settlers, but it was lightly populated until French n' English colonists arrived around 1625. The new settlers meant to make a life in Hispanola but hadn't thought about the Spanish Military's presence. The Spanish occupied the Island, building a fort after they drove off the colonists. Whenever the military drove off one group of colonists another would appear somewhere else on Hispanola, causing Garrisons to shuffle around n' leave unoccupied forts fer opportunists!

The French saw this n' stole the fort to gain a foothold in the area in 1630, they also shared it with English n' Dutch colonists. The island went through 10 tumultuous years of revolting slaves, Spanish invasions, n' more before "The Brethren of the Coast" made themselves an official organization. It was a short lived group that the Spanish stamped out, but pirates began to call the island home. It was the Fourth and Final time Spain occupied the Island before England n' France reclaimed the territory in 1655. France removed the English citizens and maintained a hold until 1676 when the island was abandoned.

Throughout the 17th Century pirates would spring up from Tortuga however. Henry Morgan drew a sizable contingent of French Pirates from Tortuga in 1670 for a campaign in Cuba. France let their pirates run amok, so Tortuga was an excellent place to stash treasure in the formerly Spanish Fortifications.

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Francois l'Olonais, The Bane of Spain

Some pirates have a reputation for malevolence and savagery, but none have warranted the reputation more than the legendary scallywag known as Francois l'Olonnais, the Scourge of the Spanish! Much of Arrr Information about l'Olonnais (Pronounced Low-Low-Nay) is gathered from Alexander Exquemlin's Accounts n' can be taken with a hefty grain of salt, yet there is such detail!

For much of his life, l'Olonnais was an indentured servant when he arrived in the Caribbean sometime in the 1650's. Indentured Servants were one step above slaves in the New World, being bound to harsh working conditions by a binding contract. People in Europe could be kidnapped and sold into Indentured Servitude. The major difference would be that there was a theoretical end to the contract with a reward upon conclusion. It was banned by the United Nations alongside Slavery in 1948.

l'Olonais completed his contract by 1660 n' promptly made way to Haiti where he became a Buccaneer. A few years into his career he and his mates shipwrecked off the coast of Campeche, Mexico where they were massacred by the Spanish Army. l'Olonnais only survived by hiding among the dead. With the help of Spanish slaves he escaped to Tortuga, only to return later with a thirst for vengeance.

He and his crew promptly took settlements hostage, to which the Spanish responded with military force. l'Ollonais beheaded all but one of the men sent against him, whom he told to spread a message, "I shall never henceforward give quarter to any Spaniard whatsoever."


In 1666, he sailed to Maracaibo, Venezuela with a crew of 440 Pirates to sack the city with great success. To gather information about hidden valuables, l'Olonais flayed his victims, burned them alive, or squeezed them to death by strapping them tightly to a mast.

After several years of increasingly larger feats of piracy, l'Olonais wrecked his ship on an expedition to Honduras, only to allegedly be devoured by cannibalistic natives! http://bit.ly/2lRL7nb

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How to Dress Like a Pirate

Whether ye be a seasoned pirate, or a first-time adventurer. All arrr Adventurers should learn about Arrr Pirate Fashions Tier System!

The first Tier be fer First Time Pirates n' Wenches! It be an affordable outfit n' a good foundation fer yar piratey endeavors! Both male n' female variations come with the basics: a top, a bottom n' a midriff piece such as a bodice or sash! These outfits run from $100-$200 typically.

The second Tier be an intermediate outfit! Fer arrr pirates n' wenches lookin' fer an upgrade from the first Tier ye will find a waist coat, footgear, leather goods, skirts, hats n' basic weapons. This be the Officer Tier when ye begin to establish yar clout as an adventurer, n' it typically runs at $200-$600.

The third n' final Tier be fer the Captains o' the Ship! This be the tier fer elaborate Frock Coats, Corsets, Boots n' a greater stash o' weapons! Though it be an advanced tier, there be no reason ye can't add onto yar Officer's Outfit! Sailors spend between $400-$1200 on a Captain's Outfit.

To make it even easier fer ye to find the outfit ye be lookin' fer we have two distinctive styles. A Gentleman can be Fancy fer a day ashore or Rough like the seas! Both fit neatly into the Tier System but establish a distinct aesthetic. Ye could have a Poor Rough Captain n' a Fancy Seaman.

Fer Arrr Ladies o' Fortune we have a Proper Look or a Sexy Look fer Tavern Hopping or attendin' the Governor's Ball! Regardless ye will be drawing the attention of many a rogue, friend or foe! Pickin' a style will help ye find what ye are lookin' fer more quickly in an easy to understand manner.

Usin' the Categories n' Style System ye are well on yar way to yar first pirate outfit or upgradin' yourself for a new adventure!

What ye see here is arrr "outfits" and not costumes. Instead of going with a cheap Halloween costume for one night ye have chosen the garb of a movie star or a high seas adventurerhttp://bit.ly/2jm8FuP

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The History of Port Royal



The History of Port Royal!

Contrary to what ye may have seen in Pirates of the Caribbean, Port Royal, Jamaica was a very hospitable town to Pirates. Being slightly more like what ye saw in the movie's Tortuga! It was fairly normal for port towns in the 17th Century n' very early 18th Century to welcome pirates for the simple reason that they had lots o' money to spend from their latest raid on a Spanish Treasure Fleet or Merchant Vessel.

From the Community's perspective the pirates were a driving force in Port Royal's economy, they would go ashore with a fortune n' spend most of their earnins on food, drink n' luxury goods. In the 1660's there was One Drinking House per Ten 10 Residents because of the effect the sailors had. Barter n' Trade was still fairly normal in this time period among common folk, but allegedly Port Royal ran on the exchange of coinage it had done so well.

The pirates enjoyed Port Royal because it was strategically placed along multiple trading routes they could prey on. As long as they paid their dues to the local governors they also had a safe haven to fall back to, early British Governors would welcome successful pirate crews personally. Pirates could even compose the local garrison to defend the town against attacks. It was such a famous town among pirates that they would travel from as far as Madagascar to enjoy what had become the "Sodom of the New World."

Port Royal itself was ravaged by an earthquake in 1692, n' most of the region's economic activity was moved to nearby Kingston, Jamaica. Soon thereafter the British cracked down on piracy n' made the settlement the primary location to hang n' execute unsanctioned pirates! http://bit.ly/2mUb2aE

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Captain Henry Morgan as a Pop Culture Icon

We have told ye the tale who the infamous Cap'n Morgan was as a historical figure. Now we will detail some o' his exploits as a pop culture icon through the Ages! Pirates n' Swashbucklin' Legends have been the source of many stories, even the historians of the 17th n' 18th Centuries and their accounts may have been embellished for the purposes of entertainment.

 



Morgan was best known by the historical accounts of Alexandre Exquemlin, a Franco-Dutch writer n' a sailor who wrote the "History of the Bouccaneers of America." Exquemlin was a barber-surgeon in Morgan's crew, perceived to have resented Morgan for his renegade nature n' his reputation for torture. He didn't speak favorably o' him in his accounts!

Henry Morgan would not appear in outright published fiction until 1922, in "Captain Blood," written by Rafael Sabatini. Even then he merely provided the inspiration for the eponymous hero, Peter Blood. Sabatini however, enjoyed basing his works of historical fiction very heavily on the history that inspires him. John Steinbeck's first novel, "The Cup of Gold" was also heavily inspired by the Legend himself!

 


13 Years after "Captain Blood" was written, a live action movie version was released with Erroll Flynn in his first starring Hollywood role! It be a much looser interpretation o' Henry Morgan, but it still be a fine testament to Pirates in Media. A foothold that Henry Morgan holds to this day, though entertainment may not even be the greatest part of his career!

In 1944, the Seagram Company created the first incarnation of Captain Morgan's Rum. O'er the rest of the 20th-century hotels in the Caribbean would pop up with names incorporatin' the name, "Captain Morgan" to woo tourists and hark to the tales of old. In 2001, Captain Morgan Rum was acquired by London-based Diageo.

 



Suffice it to say Morgan be a Legend among Pirates. He lived long enough to retire from the Life and even became a Governor! Which makes him a great all Gentlemen (and Ladies) o' Fortune!

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