Post #8: Piracy and Pirates

A General History of the Pyrates. Real or Fiction produced by Daniel DeFoe? The book was written by Captain Charles Johnson, according to the print. However, it has been speculated that Daniel Defoe, most famous for being the author of the novel Robinson Crusoe. Both novels paint a spectacular image of the 1700s. This image is held in contrast to the modern idea of pirates. One such stark contrast is the modern idea that if one engaged in piracy that they identified as a pirate and were therefore outsiders in British society. This is not the case. In fact, pirates actually operated inside British society as Privateers. Privateering is essentially state sanctioned piracy. The rise of the British Empire was dependent upon these Privateers. Pirates would sail out and capture Spanish vessels and take their wealth. As the Spanish lost wealth, the British were profiting. However, once the British Empire became strong and wealthy, the Pirates were no longer needed. Pirates were then publicly executed. Pirates were hanged near the seaports. This served as a signal to the pirates that they were not welcome and if they disembarked they would be killed. As it relates to A General History of the Pyrates, the famed stories of Blackbeard and Mary Read seem to be anomalies. This is exemplified by Captain Henry Morgan who is famously known today for being a pirate when in reality he was a soldier who engaged in acts of Piracy. He was knighted and given a title after these acts. He is very different from our modern idea of pirates but nonetheless is the origin of the term “Privateer.”

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