In a bombardment from a Royal Navy squadron led by Sir John Narborough and further defeats at the hands of a squadron under Arthur Herbert negotiated a lasting peace until with Tunis and Tripoli. France, which had recently emerged as a leading naval power, achieved comparable success soon afterwards, with bombardments of Algiers in , and securing a lasting peace, while Tripoli was similarly coerced in In and the Spaniards also bombarded Algiers in an effort to stem the piracy.
Until the American Declaration of Independence in , British treaties with the North African states protected American ships from the Barbary corsairs. Morocco , which in was the first independent nation to publicly recognize the United States , became in the first Barbary power to seize an American vessel after independence. While the United States managed to secure peace treaties, these obliged it to pay tribute for protection from attack.
However, Algiers broke the peace treaty after only two years, and subsequently refused to implement the treaty until compelled to do so by Britain in In , the sacking of Palma on the island of Sardinia by a Tunisian squadron, which carried off inhabitants, roused widespread indignation. Britain had by this time banned the slave trade and was seeking to induce other countries to do likewise. This led to complaints from states which were still vulnerable to the corsairs that Britain's enthusiasm for ending the trade in African slaves did not extend to stopping the enslavement of Europeans and Americans by the Barbary States.
In order to neutralise this objection and further the anti-slavery campaign, in Lord Exmouth was sent to secure new concessions from Tripoli , Tunis , and Algiers , including a pledge to treat Christian captives in any future conflict as prisoners of war rather than slaves and the imposition of peace between Algiers and the kingdoms of Sardinia and Sicily. On his first visit he negotiated satisfactory treaties and sailed for home. While he was negotiating, a number of Sardinian fishermen who had settled at Bona on the Tunisian coast were brutally treated without his knowledge.
As Sardinians they were technically under British protection and the government sent Exmouth back to secure reparation.
Both Algiers and Tunis made fresh concessions as a result. However, securing uniform compliance with a total prohibition of slave-raiding, which was traditionally of central importance to the North African economy, presented difficulties beyond those faced in ending attacks on ships of individual nations, which had left slavers able to continue their accustomed way of life by preying on less well-protected peoples. Algiers subsequently renewed its slave-raiding, though on a smaller scale.
Measures to be taken against the city's government were discussed at the Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle in Corsair activity based in Algiers did not entirely cease until its conquest by France in At one point, there were nearly 1, pirates located in Madagascar. The most famous pirate utopia is that of the probably fictional Captain Misson and his pirate crew, who allegedly founded the free colony of Libertatia in northern Madagascar in the late 17th century, until it was destroyed in a surprise attack by the island natives in In East Asia by the ninth century, populations centered mostly around merchant activities in coastal Shandong and Jiangsu provinces.
Wealthy benefactors, including Jang Bogo established Silla Buddhist temples in the region. Jang Bogo had become incensed at the treatment of his fellow countrymen, who in the unstable milieu of late Tang often fell victim to coastal pirates or inland bandits. After returning to Silla around , and in possession of a formidable private fleet headquartered at Cheonghae Wando , Jang Bogo petitioned the Silla king Heungdeok r. Heungdeok gave Jang an army of 10, men to establish and man the defensive works. The remnants of Cheonghae Garrison can still be seen on Jang islet just off Wando's southern coast.
Jang's force, though nominally bequeathed by the Silla king, was effectively under his own control. Jang became arbiter of Yellow Sea commerce and navigation. From the 13th century, Wokou based in Japan made their debut in East Asia, initiating invasions that would persist for years. The wokou raids peaked in the s , but by then the wokou were mostly Chinese smugglers who reacted strongly against the Ming dynasty 's strict prohibition on private sea trade. In South East Asia ,  piracy began with the retreating Mongol Yuan fleet after the betrayal by their Javanese allies who, incidentally, would found the empire of Majapahit after the Mongols left.
They preferred the junk, a ship using a more robust sail layout. Marooned navy officers, consisting mostly of Cantonese and Hokkien tribesmen, set up their small gangs near river estuaries , mainly to protect themselves. They recruited locals as common foot-soldiers known as lang Malay: They survived by utilizing their well trained pugilists, as well as marine and navigation skills, mostly along Sumatran and Javanese estuaries.
Their strength and ferocity coincided with the impending trade growth of the maritime silk and spice routes. They would be used as coast guards, or sent on recon missions to deal with Arab piracy in the Arabian Sea. Their function is similar to the 18th century privateers , used by the Royal Navy. Starting in the 14th century, the Deccan Southern Peninsular region of India was divided into two entities: Continuous wars demanded frequent resupplies of fresh horses, which were imported through sea routes from Persia and Africa.
This trade was subjected to frequent raids by thriving bands of pirates based in the coastal cities of Western India. One of such was Timoji , who operated off Anjadip Island both as a privateer by seizing horse traders, that he rendered to the raja of Honavar and as a pirate who attacked the Kerala merchant fleets that traded pepper with Gujarat. During the 16th and 17th centuries, there was frequent European piracy against Mughal Indian merchants, especially those en route to Mecca for Hajj.
The situation came to a head when the Portuguese attacked and captured the vessel Rahimi which belonged to Mariam Zamani the Mughal queen, which led to the Mughal seizure of the Portuguese town Daman. The Bugis sailors of South Sulawesi were infamous as pirates who used to range as far west as Singapore and as far north as the Philippines in search of targets for piracy. Pirates plagued the Tonkin Gulf area.
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During the Qing period, Chinese pirate fleets grew increasingly large. The effects large-scale piracy had on the Chinese economy were immense. They preyed voraciously on China's junk trade, which flourished in Fujian and Guangdong and was a vital artery of Chinese commerce. Pirate fleets exercised hegemony over villages on the coast, collecting revenue by exacting tribute and running extortion rackets.
In , the menacing Zheng Yi inherited the fleet of his cousin, captain Zheng Qi, whose death provided Zheng Yi with considerably more influence in the world of piracy. Zheng Yi and his wife, Zheng Yi Sao who would eventually inherit the leadership of his pirate confederacy then formed a pirate coalition that, by , consisted of over ten thousand men. Their military might alone was sufficient to combat the Qing navy. However, a combination of famine, Qing naval opposition, and internal rifts crippled piracy in China around the s, and it has never again reached the same status.
Major battles were fought such as those at Ty-ho Bay and the Tonkin River though pirate junks continued operating off China for years more. However, some British and American individual citizens also volunteered to serve with Chinese pirates to fight against European forces. The British offered rewards for the capture of westerners serving with Chinese pirates. During the Second Opium War and the Taiping Rebellion , piratical junks were again destroyed in large numbers by British naval forces but ultimately it wasn't until the s and s that fleets of pirate junks ceased to exist.
The southern coast of the Persian Gulf was known to the British from the late 18th century as the Pirate Coast , where control of the seaways of the Persian Gulf was asserted by the Qawasim Al Qasimi and other local maritime powers. Memories of the privations carried out on the coast by Portuguese raiders under Albuquerque were long and local powers antipathetic as a consequence to Christian powers asserting dominance of their coastal waters. This was cemented by the Treaty of Maritime Peace in Perpetuity in , resulting in the British label for the area, 'Pirate Coast' being softened to the 'Trucial Coast', with several emirates being recognised by the British as Trucial States.
The classic era of piracy in the Caribbean lasted from circa until the mids. This involved considerable seaborne trade, and a general economic improvement: French buccaneers were established on northern Hispaniola as early as ,  but lived at first mostly as hunters rather than robbers; their transition to full-time piracy was gradual and motivated in part by Spanish efforts to wipe out both the buccaneers and the prey animals on which they depended. The buccaneers' migration from Hispaniola's mainland to the more defensible offshore island of Tortuga limited their resources and accelerated their piratical raids.
According to Alexandre Exquemelin , a buccaneer and historian who remains a major source on this period, the Tortuga buccaneer Pierre Le Grand pioneered the settlers' attacks on galleons making the return voyage to Spain. The growth of buccaneering on Tortuga was augmented by the English capture of Jamaica from Spain in The early English governors of Jamaica freely granted letters of marque to Tortuga buccaneers and to their own countrymen, while the growth of Port Royal provided these raiders with a far more profitable and enjoyable place to sell their booty. In the s, the new French governor of Tortuga, Bertrand d'Ogeron, similarly provided privateering commissions both to his own colonists and to English cutthroats from Port Royal.
These conditions brought Caribbean buccaneering to its zenith. A new phase of piracy began in the s as English pirates began to look beyond the Caribbean for treasure. The fall of Britain's Stuart kings had restored the traditional enmity between Britain and France, thus ending the profitable collaboration between English Jamaica and French Tortuga. The devastation of Port Royal by an earthquake in further reduced the Caribbean's attractions by destroying the pirates' chief market for fenced plunder.
At the same time, England's less favored colonies, including Bermuda , New York , and Rhode Island , had become cash-starved by the Navigation Acts , which restricted trade with foreign ships. Merchants and governors eager for coin were willing to overlook and even underwrite pirate voyages; one colonial official defended a pirate because he thought it "very harsh to hang people that brings in gold to these provinces. India's economic output was large during this time, especially in high-value luxury goods like silk and calico which made ideal pirate booty;  at the same time, no powerful navies plied the Indian Ocean, leaving both local shipping and the various East India companies' vessels vulnerable to attack.
Between and , a succession of peace treaties was signed which ended the War of the Spanish Succession. With the end of this conflict, thousands of seamen, including Britain's paramilitary privateers, were relieved of military duty. The result was a large number of trained, idle sailors at a time when the cross-Atlantic colonial shipping trade was beginning to boom. In addition, Europeans who had been pushed by unemployment to become sailors and soldiers involved in slaving were often enthusiastic to abandon that profession and turn to pirating, giving pirate captains for many years a constant pool of trained European recruits to be found in west African waters and coasts.
In , pirates launched a major raid on Spanish divers trying to recover gold from a sunken treasure galleon near Florida. The nucleus of the pirate force was a group of English ex-privateers, all of whom would soon be enshrined in infamy: The attack was successful, but contrary to their expectations, the governor of Jamaica refused to allow Jennings and their cohorts to spend their loot on his island.
With Kingston and the declining Port Royal closed to them, Jennings and his comrades founded a new pirate base at Nassau , on the island of New Providence in the Bahamas, which had been abandoned during the war. Until the arrival of governor Woodes Rogers three years later, Nassau would be home for these pirates and their many recruits. Shipping traffic between Africa, the Caribbean, and Europe began to soar in the 18th century, a model that was known as triangular trade , and was a rich target for piracy.
Trade ships sailed from Europe to the African coast, trading manufactured goods and weapons in exchange for slaves. The traders would then sail to the Caribbean to sell the slaves, and return to Europe with goods such as sugar, tobacco and cocoa. Another triangular trade saw ships carry raw materials, preserved cod, and rum to Europe, where a portion of the cargo would be sold for manufactured goods, which along with the remainder of the original load were transported to the Caribbean, where they were exchanged for sugar and molasses, which with some manufactured articles were borne to New England.
Ships in the triangular trade made money at each stop. As part of the peace settlement of the War of the Spanish succession , Britain obtained the asiento , a Spanish government contract, to supply slaves to Spain's new world colonies, providing British traders and smugglers more access to the traditionally closed Spanish markets in America. This arrangement also contributed heavily to the spread of piracy across the western Atlantic at this time. Shipping to the colonies boomed simultaneously with the flood of skilled mariners after the war.
Merchant shippers used the surplus of sailors' labor to drive wages down, cutting corners to maximize their profits, and creating unsavory conditions aboard their vessels. Merchant sailors suffered from mortality rates as high or higher than the slaves being transported Rediker, Living conditions were so poor that many sailors began to prefer a freer existence as a pirate. The increased volume of shipping traffic also could sustain a large body of brigands preying upon it.
Most of these pirates were eventually hunted down by the Royal Navy and killed or captured; several battles were fought between the brigands and the colonial powers on both land and sea. Piracy in the Caribbean declined for the next several decades after , but by the s many pirates roamed the waters though they were not as bold or successful as their predecessors. The most successful pirates of the era were Jean Lafitte and Roberto Cofresi.
Lafitte is considered by many to be the last buccaneer due to his army of pirates and fleet of pirate ships which held bases in and around the Gulf of Mexico.
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Lafitte and his men participated in the War of battle of New Orleans. Cofresi's base was in Mona Island , Puerto Rico, from where he disrupted the commerce throughout the region. He became the last major target of the international anti-piracy operations. The elimination of piracy from European waters expanded to the Caribbean in the 18th century, West Africa and North America by the s and by the s even the Indian Ocean was a difficult location for pirates to operate.
England began to strongly turn against piracy at the turn of the 18th century, as it was increasingly damaging to the country's economic and commercial prospects in the region. The Piracy Act of for the "more effectual suppression of Piracy"  made it easier to capture, try and convict pirates by lawfully enabling acts of piracy to be "examined, inquired of, tried, heard and determined, and adjudged in any place at sea, or upon the land, in any of his Majesty's islands, plantations, colonies, dominions, forts, or factories. Commissioners of these vice-admiralty courts were also vested with "full power and authority" to issue warrants, summon the necessary witnesses, and "to do all thing necessary for the hearing and final determination of any case of piracy, robbery, or felony.
Piracy saw a brief resurgence between the end of the War of the Spanish Succession in and around , as many unemployed seafarers took to piracy as a way to make ends meet when a surplus of sailors after the war led to a decline in wages and working conditions. At the same time, one of the terms of the Treaty of Utrecht that ended the war gave to Great Britain's Royal African Company and other British slavers a thirty-year asiento, or contract, to furnish African slaves to the Spanish colonies, providing British merchants and smugglers potential inroads into the traditionally closed Spanish markets in America and leading to an economic revival for the whole region.
This revived Caribbean trade provided rich new pickings for a wave of piracy. Also contributing to the increase of Caribbean piracy at this time was Spain's breakup of the English logwood settlement at Campeche and the attractions of a freshly sunken silver fleet off the southern Bahamas in Fears over the rising levels of crime and piracy, political discontent, concern over crowd behaviour at public punishments, and an increased determination by parliament to suppress piracy, resulted in the Piracy Act of and of These established a seven-year penal transportation to North America as a possible punishment for those convicted of lesser felonies, or as a possible sentence that capital punishment might be commuted to by royal pardon.
After , piracy in the classic sense became extremely rare as increasingly effective anti-piracy measures were taken by the Royal Navy making it impossible for any pirate to pursue an effective career for long. By , the British Royal Navy had approximately vessels and by ; a big increase from the two vessels England had possessed in Many pirates did not surrender and were killed at the point of capture; notorious pirate Edward Teach, or "Blackbeard", was hunted down by Lieutenant Robert Maynard at Ocracoke Inlet off the coast of North Carolina on 22 November and killed.
Roberts' death shocked the pirate world, as well as the Royal Navy. The local merchants and civilians had thought him invincible, and some considered him a hero. Also crucial to the end of this era of piracy was the loss of the pirates' last Caribbean safe haven at Nassau. In the early 19th century, piracy along the East and Gulf Coasts of North America as well as in the Caribbean increased again.
Jean Lafitte was just one of hundreds of pirates operating in American and Caribbean waters between the years of and After fleeing for hours, he was ambushed and captured inland. The United States landed shore parties on several islands in the Caribbean in pursuit of pirates; Cuba was a major haven. By the s piracy had died out again, and the navies of the region focused on the slave trade. About the time of the Mexican—American War in , the United States Navy had grown strong and numerous enough to eliminate the pirate threat in the West Indies.
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By the s, ships had begun to convert to steam propulsion, so the Age of Sail and the classical idea of pirates in the Caribbean ended. Privateering, similar to piracy, continued as an asset in war for a few more decades and proved to be of some importance during the naval campaigns of the American Civil War. Privateering would remain a tool of European states until the midth century's Declaration of Paris. But letters of marque were given out much more sparingly by governments and were terminated as soon as conflicts ended.
The idea of "no peace beyond the Line" was a relic that had no meaning by the more settled late 18th and early 19th centuries. Due to the strategic situation of this Spanish archipelago as a crossroads of maritime routes and commercial bridge between Europe , Africa and America ,  this was one of the places on the planet with the greatest pirate presence. In the Canary Islands , the following stand out: Among those born in the archipelago stands out above all Amaro Pargo , whom the monarch Felipe V of Spain frequently benefited in his commercial incursions and corsairs.
River piracy , in late 18th-midth century America, was primarily concentrated along the Ohio River and Mississippi River valleys. In , at Tower Rock , the U. Army dragoons , possibly, from the frontier army post up river at Fort Kaskaskia , on the Illinois side opposite St. Louis, raided and drove out the river pirates.
Stack Island was also associated with river pirates and counterfeiters in the late s. In , the last major river pirate activity took place, on the Upper Mississippi River, and river piracy in this area came to an abrupt end, when a group of flatboatmen raided the island, wiping out the river pirates. From —, Cave-In-Rock was the principal outlaw lair and headquarters of river pirate activity in the Ohio River region, from which Samuel Mason led a gang of river pirates on the Ohio River. River piracy continued on the lower Mississippi River, from the early s to the mids, declining as a result of direct military action and local law enforcement and regulator-vigilante groups that uprooted and swept out pockets of outlaw resistance.
Pirates had a system of hierarchy on board their ships determining how captured money was distributed. However, pirates were more egalitarian than any other area of employment at the time. In fact, pirate quartermasters were a counterbalance to the captain and had the power to veto his orders. The majority of plunder was in the form of cargo and ship's equipment, with medicines the most highly prized. Jewels were common plunder but not popular, as they were hard to sell, and pirates, unlike the public of today, had little concept of their value.
There is one case recorded where a pirate was given a large diamond worth a great deal more than the value of the handful of small diamonds given to his crewmates as a share. He felt cheated and had it broken up to match what they received. Spanish pieces of eight minted in Mexico or Seville were the standard trade currency in the American colonies. However, every colony still used the monetary units of pounds, shillings, and pence for bookkeeping while Spanish, German, French, and Portuguese money were all standard mediums of exchange as British law prohibited the export of British silver coinage.
Until the exchange rates were standardised in the late 18th century each colony legislated its own different exchange rates. In England, 1 piece of eight was worth 4s 3d while it was worth 8s in New York, 7s 6d in Pennsylvania and 6s 8d in Virginia. As such, the value of pirate plunder could vary considerably, depending on who recorded it and where.
Ordinary seamen received a part of the plunder at the captain's discretion but usually a single share. It is known there were actions with multiple ships captured where a single share was worth almost double this. By contrast, an ordinary seamen in the Royal Navy received 19s per month to be paid in a lump sum at the end of a tour of duty, which was around half the rate paid in the Merchant Navy. However, corrupt officers would often "tax" their crews' wage to supplement their own, and the Royal Navy of the day was infamous for its reluctance to pay.
From this wage, 6d per month was deducted for the maintenance of Greenwich Hospital , with similar amounts deducted for the Chatham Chest , the chaplain and surgeon. Six months' pay was withheld to discourage desertion. That this was insufficient incentive is revealed in a report on proposed changes to the RN Admiral Nelson wrote in ; he noted that since more than 42, sailors had deserted.
Roughly half of all RN crews were pressganged and these not only received lower wages than volunteers but were shackled while the vessel was docked and were never permitted to go ashore until released from service. Although the Royal Navy suffered from many morale issues, it answered the question of prize money via the 'Cruizers and Convoys' Act of which handed over the share previously gained by the Crown to the captors of the ship. Technically it was still possible for the Crown to get the money or a portion of it but this rarely happened.
The process of condemnation of a captured vessel and its cargo and men was given to the High Court of the Admiralty and this was the process which remained in force with minor changes throughout the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. Even the flag officer's share was not quite straightforward; he would only get the full one-eighth if he had no junior flag officer beneath him. If this was the case then he would get a third share. If he had more than one then he would take one half while the rest was shared out equally.
There was a great deal of money to be made in this way. The record breaker was the capture of the Spanish frigate Hermione , which was carrying treasure in All through the wars there are examples of this kind of luck falling on captains. Another famous 'capture' was that of the Spanish frigates Thetis and Santa Brigada , which were loaded with gold specie. It should also be noted that it was usually only the frigates which took prizes; the ships of the line were far too ponderous to be able to chase and capture the smaller ships which generally carried treasure.
Nelson always bemoaned that he had done badly out of prize money and even as a flag officer received little. This was not that he had a bad command of captains but rather that British mastery of the seas was so complete that few enemy ships dared to sail. Even though pirates raided many ships, few, if any, buried their treasure. Often, the "treasure" that was stolen was food, water, alcohol, weapons, or clothing. Other things they stole were household items like bits of soap and gear like rope and anchors, or sometimes they would keep the ship they captured either to sell off or keep because it was better than their ship.
Such items were likely to be needed immediately, rather than saved for future trade. For this reason, there was no need for the pirates to bury these goods. Pirates tended to kill few people aboard the ships they captured; usually they would kill no one if the ship surrendered, because if it became known that pirates took no prisoners, their victims would fight to the last breath and make victory both very difficult and costly in lives. In contrast, ships would quickly surrender if they knew they would be spared. In one well-documented case heavily armed soldiers on a ship attacked by Thomas Tew surrendered after a brief battle with none of Tew's man crew being injured.
During the 17th and 18th centuries, once pirates were caught, justice was meted out in a summary fashion, and many ended their lives by "dancing the hempen jig", a euphemism for hanging. Public execution was a form of entertainment at the time, and people came out to watch them as they would to a sporting event today.
Newspapers reported details such as condemned men's last words, the prayers said by the priests, and descriptions of their final moments in the gallows. In the cases of more famous prisoners, usually captains, their punishments extended beyond death. Their bodies were enclosed in iron cages gibbet for which they were measured before their execution and left to swing in the air until the flesh rotted off them- a process that could take as long as two years.
While piracy was predominantly a male occupation throughout history, a minority of pirates were female. Additionally, women were often regarded as bad luck among pirates. It was feared that the male members of the crew would argue and fight over the women. On many ships, women as well as young boys were prohibited by the ship's contract , which all crew members were required to sign.
Because of the resistance to allowing women on board, many female pirates did not identify themselves as such. Anne Bonny, for example, dressed and acted as a man while on Captain Calico Jack's ship. Unlike traditional Western societies of the time, many Caribbean pirate crews of European descent operated as limited democracies.
Pirate communities were some of the first to instate a system of checks and balances similar to the one used by the present-day United States and many other countries. The first record of such a government aboard a pirate sloop dates to the 17th century. To date three identifiable pirate shipwrecks have been discovered. One is the Whydah Gally , a former slave ship seized on its maiden voyage from Africa by the pirate captain "Black Sam" Bellamy.
Since the Wydah collection has been touring as part of the exhibit "Real Pirates" sponsored by National Geographic. The second is the Queen Anne's Revenge , the flagship of the infamous pirate Blackbeard. He used the ship for less than a year, but it was an effective tool in his prize-taking. In late , Intersal,  a private firm working under a permit with the state of North Carolina, discovered the remains of the vessel. Thirty-one cannons have been identified to date and more than , artifacts have been recovered.
The discovery is recounted in Robert Kurson's book Pirate Hunters    . A privateer or corsair used similar methods to a pirate, but acted under orders of the state while in possession of a commission or letter of marque and reprisal from a government or monarch authorizing the capture of merchant ships belonging to an enemy nation.
For example, the United States Constitution of specifically authorized Congress to issue letters of marque and reprisal. The letter of marque and reprisal was recognized by international convention and meant that a privateer could not technically be charged with piracy while attacking the targets named in his commission. This nicety of law did not always save the individuals concerned, however, since whether one was considered a pirate or a legally operating privateer often depended on whose custody the individual found himself in—that of the country that had issued the commission, or that of the object of attack.
Spanish authorities were known to execute foreign privateers with their letters of marque hung around their necks to emphasize Spain's rejection of such defenses. Furthermore, many privateers exceeded the bounds of their letters of marque by attacking nations with which their sovereign was at peace Thomas Tew and William Kidd are notable alleged examples , and thus made themselves liable to conviction for piracy.
However, a letter of marque did provide some cover for such pirates, as plunder seized from neutral or friendly shipping could be passed off later as taken from enemy merchants. The famous Barbary Corsairs of the Mediterranean, authorized by the Ottoman Empire, were privateers, as were the Maltese Corsairs, who were authorized by the Knights of St. John , and the Dunkirkers in the service of the Spanish Empire. In the years — alone, the Dunkirk privateers captured 1, ships, and sank another His patron was Queen Elizabeth I, and their relationship ultimately proved to be quite profitable for England.
Privateers constituted a large proportion of the total military force at sea during the 17th and 18th centuries.
During the Nine Years War , the French adopted a policy of strongly encouraging privateers French corsairs , including the famous Jean Bart , to attack English and Dutch shipping. England lost roughly 4, merchant ships during the war. During King George's War , approximately 36, Americans served aboard privateers at one time or another.
Privateering lost international sanction under the Declaration of Paris in A wartime activity similar to piracy involves disguised warships called commerce raiders or merchant raiders , which attack enemy shipping commerce, approaching by stealth and then opening fire. Commerce raiders operated successfully during the American Revolution. Since commissioned naval vessels were openly used, these commerce raiders should not be considered even privateers, much less pirates— although the opposing combatants were vocal in denouncing them as such.
In the Gulf of Guinea, maritime piracy has also led to pressure on offshore oil and gas production, providing security for offshore installations and supply vessels is often paid for by oil companies rather than the respective governments. In , Brazil also created an anti-piracy unit on the Amazon River. River piracy happens in Europe, with vessels suffering from pirate attacks on the Serbian and Romanian stretches of the international Danube river , i.
Modern pirates favor small boats and taking advantage of the small number of crew members on modern cargo vessels. Modern pirates can be successful because a large amount of international commerce occurs via shipping. Major shipping routes take cargo ships through narrow bodies of water such as the Gulf of Aden and the Strait of Malacca making them vulnerable to be overtaken and boarded by small motorboats.
As usage increases, many of these ships have to lower cruising speeds to allow for navigation and traffic control, making them prime targets for piracy. Also, pirates often operate in regions of developing or struggling countries with smaller navies and large trade routes. Pirates sometimes evade capture by sailing into waters controlled by their pursuer's enemies.
With the end of the Cold War , navies have decreased in size and patrol less frequently, while trade has increased, making organized piracy far easier. Modern pirates are sometimes linked with organized-crime syndicates, but often are small individual groups. Their records indicate hostage-taking overwhelmingly dominates the types of violence against seafarers. For example, in , there were attacks, 77 crew members were kidnapped and taken hostage but only 15 of the pirate attacks resulted in murder. There was a 35 percent increase on reported attacks involving guns. Crew members that were injured numbered 64 compared to just 17 in The number of attacks from January to September had surpassed the previous year's total due to the increased pirate attacks in the Gulf of Aden and off Somalia.
Between January and September the number of attacks rose to from The pirates boarded the vessels in cases and hijacked 34 of them so far in Gun use in pirate attacks has gone up to cases from 76 last year. Rather than cargo, modern pirates have targeted the personal belongings of the crew and the contents of the ship's safe, which potentially contains large amounts of cash needed for payroll and port fees.
In other cases, the pirates force the crew off the ship and then sail it to a port to be repainted and given a new identity through false papers purchased from corrupt or complicit officials. Modern piracy can also take place in conditions of political unrest. For example, following the U. Further, following the disintegration of the government of Somalia, warlords in the region have attacked ships delivering UN food aid. The attack against the German-built cruise ship the Seabourn Spirit offshore of Somalia in November is an example of the sophisticated pirates mariners face.
The attackers were armed with automatic firearms and an RPG.
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Backers were now reportedly reluctant to finance pirate expeditions due to the low rate of success, and pirates were no longer able to reimburse their creditors. Many nations forbid ships to enter their territorial waters or ports if the crew of the ships are armed, in an effort to restrict possible piracy.
For the United States, piracy is one of the offenses against which Congress is delegated power to enact penal legislation by the Constitution of the United States , along with treason and offenses against the law of nations. Treason is generally making war against one's own countrymen, and violations of the law of nations can include unjust war among other nationals or by governments against their own people.
In modern times, ships and airplanes are hijacked for political reasons as well. The perpetrators of these acts could be described as pirates for instance, the French term for plane hijacker is pirate de l'air , literally air pirate , but in English are usually termed hijackers. An example is the hijacking of the Italian civilian passenger ship Achille Lauro by the Palestinian Liberation Organization in , which is regarded as an act of piracy.
A book entitled International Legal Dimension of Terrorism called the attackers "terrorists". Modern pirates also use a great deal of technology. It has been reported that crimes of piracy have involved the use of mobile phones , satellite phones , GPS , machetes , AK74 rifles, Sonar systems, modern speedboats , shotguns , pistols , mounted machine guns , and even RPGs and grenade launchers.
Under a principle of international law known as the "universality principle", a government may "exercise jurisdiction over conduct outside its territory if that conduct is universally dangerous to states and their nationals. The goal of maritime security operations is "actively to deter, disrupt and suppress piracy in order to protect global maritime security and secure freedom of navigation for the benefit of all nations",  and pirates are often detained, interrogated, disarmed, and released. With millions of dollars at stake, pirates have little incentive to stop.
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In Finland, one case involved pirates who had been captured and whose boat was sunk. As the pirates attacked a vessel of Singapore, not Finland, and are not themselves EU or Finnish citizens, they were not prosecuted. A further complication in many cases, including this one, is that many countries do not allow extradition of people to jurisdictions where they may be sentenced to death or torture. The Dutch are using a 17th-century law against sea robbery to prosecute. Prosecutors have a hard time assembling witnesses and finding translators, and countries are reluctant to imprison pirates because the countries would be saddled with the pirates upon their release.
George Mason University professor Peter Leeson has suggested that the international community appropriate Somali territorial waters and sell them, together with the international portion of the Gulf of Aden, to a private company which would then provide security from piracy in exchange for charging tolls to world shipping through the Gulf. The fourth volume of the handbook: BMP4 contains a chapter entitled "Self-Protective Measures" which lays out a list of steps a merchant vessel can take on its own to make itself less of a target to pirates and make it better able to repel an attack if one occurs.
This list includes rigging the deck of the ship with razor wire , rigging fire-hoses to spray sea-water over the side of the ship to hinder boardings , having a distinctive pirate alarm, hardening the bridge against gunfire and creating a " citadel " where the crew can retreat in the event pirates get on board. Other unofficial self-defense measures that can be found on merchant vessels include the setting up of mannequins posing as armed guards or firing flares at the pirates. Though it varies by country, generally peacetime law in the 20th and 21st centuries has not allowed merchant vessels to carry weapons.
As a response to the rise in modern piracy, however, the U. The US Coastguard leaves it to ship owners' discretion to determine if those guards will be armed. Seychelles has become a central location for international anti-piracy operations, hosting the Anti-Piracy Operation Center for the Indian Ocean. With safety trials complete in the late s, laser dazzlers have been developed for defensive purposes on super-yachts. In February , Italian Marines based on the tanker Enrica Lexie allegedly fired on an Indian fishing trawler off Kerala , killing two of her eleven crew.
The Marines allegedly mistook the fishing vessel as a pirate vessel. The incident sparked a diplomatic row between India and Italy. Enrica Lexie was ordered into Kochi where her crew were questioned by officers of the Indian Police. However, despite VPD deployment being controversial because of these incidents, according to the Associated Press ,  during a United Nations Security Council conference about piracy "U. Ambassador Susan Rice told the council that no ship carrying armed guards has been successfully attacked by pirates" and "French Ambassador Gerard Araud stressed that private guards do not have the deterrent effect that government-posted marine and sailors and naval patrols have in warding off attacks".
First and foremost, the best protection against piracy is simply to avoid encountering them. This can be accomplished by using tools such as radar ,  or by using specialised systems that use shorter wavelengths as small boats are not always picked up by radar. An example of a specialised system is WatchStander. In addition, while the non-wartime 20th century tradition has been for merchant vessels not to be armed, the U.
Government has recently changed the rules so that it is now "best practice" for vessels to embark a team of armed private security guards. Other measures vessels can take to protect themselves against piracy are air-pressurised boat stopping systems which can fire a variety of vessel-disabling projectiles,  implementing a high freewall  and vessel boarding protection systems e. Often humorous, sometimes chilling, yet always fascinating, these authentic stories form a wonderfully readable history of piracy's beginnings and its rapid spread through the coastal waters of the New World.
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Visit Amazon global store. Explore products from global brands in clothing, electronics, toys, sports, books and more. Be the first to review this item Would you like to tell us about a lower price? Share your thoughts with other customers. Write a product review. Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon. After reading fictional pirate stories, it was very interesting to read about some real life pirates.
It really adds to the history and geography of this country, as well as others, to read about how prominent a place the pirates played in our history. Who knew Christopher Columbus was one of the first pirates to come to this country and was a slave trader, kidnapping natives of the West Indies and selling them as slaves in Spain until old Queen Isabella caught him and set them free?
The kids would remember history like this. A very interesting work relating to real life pirates. It doesn't bog down with overly detailed descriptions or biographies of said pirates and is a relatively short read. Also, it's free, so why not expand your knowledge of pirates beyond simply that of Long John Silver, Captain Morgan and One-Eyed Willie yes, Willie and Silver are fictional characters but I bet most people you asked would claim that they were real.
First published in , at a time when pulp-fiction was hitting its stride with wild west stories, Stockton presents us with a series of semi-biographies of pirates from the 18th century and later. He focuses primarily on the buccaneers, but verges over into the Golden Age of Piracy for the last few pirates. The list of pirates chronicled include: