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Henry Every may not be as famous as later pirates like Blackbeard or Bartholomew Roberts, but his brief career may have inspired many of them to first take up the cutlass and set sail under the Jolly Roger. During just two years prowling the seas, Every and his band captured roughly a dozen vessels and made off with tens of millions of dollars in booty. His exploits inspired songs, books and plays, including one called “The Successful Pyrate” that was performed on London stages for several years. Most astonishing of all—and unlike Blackbeard and many others—he did it all without getting captured or killed.
Little is known about Every’s early life. He went to sea at a young age, and may have served in the Royal Navy before working as a slave trader in the early 1690s. In 1693, he reappears in the historical record as the first mate of the Charles II, a privateering vessel hired to plunder French shipping in the Caribbean. The mission was slow to start, however, and the crew languished in a Spanish port for several months without being paid. In May 1694, Every capitalized on the poor morale by leading his disgruntled crew in a mutiny. Upon seizing the Charles II, he announced his intention to turn pirate. “I am captain of this ship now,” he supposedly said. “I am bound to Madagascar, with the design of making my own fortune, and that of all the brave fellows joined with me.”
After renaming the Charles II the Fancy, Every and his upstart buccaneers set a course toward the southern tip of Africa. Their first raid came soon thereafter, when they ransacked three English merchant ships in the Cape Verde Islands. They continued to plunder their way along the African coastline for the next several months, capturing French and Danish ships and picking up new recruits. By the time the Fancy reached Madagascar in mid-1695, it was a floating rogues’ gallery of some 150 men.
Every’s early scores had won him the respect of his crew, but he soon set his sights on a more formidable quarry. He’d learned that a Mughal Empire fleet was soon to set sail from the Red Sea port of Mocha on a voyage home to Surat, India. Along with carrying Muslim pilgrims returning from their hajj to Mecca, the armada would also include several loot-filled merchant vessels and treasure ships owned by the Grand Mughal of India himself.
Every and his men cruised to the Red Sea in August 1695 and prepared to ambush the Mughal flotilla. To ensure they had significant firepower, they partnered with several other pirate ships including the Amity, an American raider captained by the famed buccaneer Thomas Tew. Only a few days later, the pirates spotted the 25-ship Mughal convoy as it raced toward the open ocean. They immediately took off in pursuit, burning or leaving behind their slower ships to keep pace. Most of the fleet slipped away, but the Fancy successfully ran down a lumbering escort vessel called the Fath Mahmamadi. After a brief firefight, the ship surrendered and was relieved of some 50,000 British pounds’ worth of gold and silver.
Every and his men resumed the hunt, and on September 7, their three remaining pirate ships caught up with the richest prize in the Indian fleet: the Grand Mughal flagship Ganj-i-Sawai. Unlike the Fath Mahmamadi, the Ganj-i-Sawai was more than capable of defending itself. It was the biggest ship in all of India, and boasted several dozen cannons and a complement of 400 riflemen—more than the entire pirate fleet combined.
Every gambled on an attack, and immediately scored a devastating blow when one of his first cannon volleys cut down the Ganj-i-Sawai’s mainmast. The Indian defenders then fell into disarray after one of their artillery pieces malfunctioned and exploded. Every brought the Fancy alongside the crippled Mughal ship and sent a boarding party scurrying onto its deck. A fierce hand-to-hand battle ensued, but the Indian soldiers were driven back after their captain abandoned them. According to one account, the cowardly officer took refuge below deck and ordered a group of slave girls to fight in his place.
After dispatching the leaderless Mughal resistance, the pirates sacked the Ganj-i-Sawai and brutalized its passengers. The men were tortured and killed, and the women—including an elderly relative of the Grand Mughal—were repeatedly raped. “The whole of the ship came under their control and they carried away all the gold and silver,” the Indian historian Khafi Khan later wrote. “After having remained engaged for a week, in searching for plunder, stripping the men of their clothes and dishonoring the old and young women, they left the ship and its passengers to their fate. Some of the women getting an opportunity, threw themselves into the sea to save their honor while others committed suicide using knives and daggers.”
The gold, silver, and jewels taken during the bloody Ganj-i-Sawai attack were worth somewhere between 325,000 and 600,000 British pounds—the equivalent of tens of millions today. After dividing the spoils, Every and his crew weighed anchor and set a course for the pirate-friendly Bahamas. Upon arriving at New Providence, they posed as slavers and bribed the island’s governor into letting them come ashore. Every also handed over the battle-scarred Fancy and a small fortune in ivory tusks.
While Every and his men relaxed in New Providence’s pubs, English authorities scrambled to deal with the political fallout from their raid. The attack had driven the Grand Mughal Aurangzeb into a rage, and he responded by arresting several higher-ups in the English East India Company, which he believed had conspired against him. Fearing the cancellation of their valuable trade agreements, the Company compensated the Mughals for what was stolen and vowed to bring the pirates to justice. East India Company and Royal Navy vessels were soon scouring the seas in search of the Fancy, and a large bounty was placed on Every’s head.
No one would get a chance to collect it. Having made the proverbial “last big score,” Every and his pirates scattered after only a short stay in the Caribbean. A few were later rounded up and executed, but the vast majority escaped to Europe and the American colonies. Every’s own fate remains something of a mystery. He is believed to have sailed to Ireland under the name “Bridgeman,” but his trail goes cold from there. Most of his contemporaries believed he made a clean getaway and retired with his loot. A few fictional works even described him as starting his own pirate haven on Madagascar. Years later, another tale would surface claiming Every had returned to his native England to settle down, only to be bilked out of his fortune by corrupt merchants. According to that version, the so-called “King of the Pirates” died poor and anonymous, “not being worth as much as would buy him a coffin.”
In 1956, Aleko Lilius wrote I Sailed with Chinese Pirates, and the book remains one of our best sources of information about Lai Choi San.
According to Lilius, he won the trust of the notorious female pirate and became one of the only Westerners ever to sail with her and her crew. He described meeting her after hearing some often-told stories about her. She was depicted as the Robin Hood of the South China Sea, known for stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. Lilius said that he wasn&rsquot sure how much of her story was real and how much of it was tall tales that grew up around her. He even doubted that she was real at first, before he met her. Dubbed the &ldquoQueen of the Macau pirates,&rdquo she inherited the business from her father, who had set up in Macau with protection from the government, given in exchange for his promise to protect local fishermen from other gangs of pirates.
Like her father before her, Lai Choi San was given the title of &ldquoinspector,&rdquo which also gave her the official protection of the government. That allowed her to carry out her pirating without harassment by the government, amassing a huge fortune running protection schemes among the fishermen they were already sworn to protect. Lai Choi San was also known for her kidnapping schemes, seizing men, women, and children to ransom back to their families.
Lilius wrote that she had collected &ldquobarrels of money&rdquo from her protection rackets and kidnapping schemes and that she ruled her crew with an iron fist. Supposedly, he was eventually allowed to sail with her, but historians have also raised some questions about how authentic his observations about her are. While they agree that parts of it are certainly true, how much was embellished for his audience is uncertain.
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Thanks to record keeping, historical documents and word of mouth, there are interesting people from history that everyone knows about, like Galileo, Thomas Jefferson, Rosa Parks, or Henry Ford.
Most inventors, dignitaries, and social activists make a lasting impression on history. Their names make it into textbooks, classes and eventually become household names. They become so well known that when someone asks "who is the most interesting person in the world?" there's a chance that one of those people is the answer.
However, there are some interesting people who do amazing things and somehow never get remembered for them. Sometimes they were simply doing the right thing at the wrong time. Sometimes the fact that they were never credited was purely a mistake, or there was no one around to see their achievement.
Other times, their achievement was purposely erased from history due to social constraints, or segregation. Many women or black people went uncredited for years following their discoveries or inventions or achievements, simply because society did not allow them to take credit for them.
Whatever the case, the point remains that history has forgotten a fair amount of people, who deserve to have their stories heard.
People often forget about the likes of like Sybil Ludington, the female version of Paul Revere, or Margaret Howe Lovatt, the woman who lived in a half-flooded home with a dolphin. Some individuals are just too mysterious to remember such as Agent 355, whose identity remains a secret to this day.
Despite their absence in most history books, they remain some of the most interesting figures in history.
Enjoy this article on interesting people? Next, read about history's greatest humanitarians. Then, check out these historical firsts that actually took place way before anyone thought they did.
Pirate John Ward: the real Captain Jack Sparrow
John Ward was outlandish and fearless, terrorising the Mediterranean with a complete absence of morals – little wonder the English pirate was an inspiration for Captain Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean films. Giles Milton tells the story of perhaps the most familiar blackguard that you’ve never heard of
This competition is now closed
The cannon were pumping shot into the hull of the vessel, sending lethal splinters of shrapnel through the air. A fire had broken out below the main deck and the crew was attempting to douse the flames. The sea battle was as terrifying as it was dangerous, yet a lone attacker could be seen leading from the front. Captain John Ward was urging his men forwards as they tried to grapple and board the vessel.
The Reniera e Soderina was a huge Venetian carrack laden with silks, indigo and other rich merchandise. If Ward succeeded in capturing her, he would be rich beyond his wildest dreams – the crowning glory of a glittering piratical career. Yet it was a career that had begun with very little promise. None of Ward’s friends or contemporaries thought him particularly talented, and none predicted that he would become the richest and most outlandish pirate of his age.
Though they reigned before the Golden Age of Piracy – commonly said to have begun in 1650 – both Elizabeth I and James VI and I were dogged by pirates: Sir Francis Drake, Sir John Hawkins and Sir Richard Grenville (along with countless others) would make their fortunes on the lawless high seas. Yet it was the little-known John Ward who was to have the most surprising career of all.
A pirate’s life
Born into an impoverished family c1553, his early life was spent fishing the tidal waters of his native Kent. An out-and-out wastrel who spent much of his time getting drunk, he would “sit melancholy, speak doggedly … [and] repine at other men’s good fortunes”.
The first inkling of his future talents came with the defeat of the Spanish Armada. Ward was one of many mariners who turned to privateering – a semi-legalised form of piracy in which Elizabeth I issued licences to anyone intending to plunder ships that belonged to the hated Spanish.
The deal was simple: the Crown received five per cent of the loot and the Lord Admiral’s agents took 10 per cent. The rest was divided between the ship’s owner and the crew. It is not known whether Ward was successful as a privateer, for these formative years of his career have been lost to history. Yet it was certainly during this time that he learned his piratical tricks.
Ward’s seafaring life took a knock in the summer of 1604 when the Anglo-Spanish war came to an end. James VI and I – successor to Elizabeth I – banned all privateering expeditions and Ward found himself out of work. According to an acquaintance, Andrew Barker, he bemoaned his ill fortune.
“Where are the days that have been … when we might sing, swear, drink, drab [whore] and kill men as freely as your cake-makers do flies?” Ward yearned for the recent past, “when the whole sea was our empire, where we rob at will”.
Ward was lodging in Portsmouth when he heard a rumour that was to change his life. A small merchant ship was anchored in the harbour, and it was stashed with the possessions of a Catholic merchant about to move from England to France. Ward persuaded 30 of his seafaring comrades to seize the vessel and its treasure. His little band stormed the ship that very night, overpowering the two watchmen and clamping them in irons. They then set sail into the English Channel.
Pirate or privateer: what’s the difference?
The distinction between pirate and privateer is subtle but important. A pirate is a lawless robber who preys on ships with the intention of stealing the vessel and its cargo. A privateer is acting under a commission, known as a letter of marque.
This semi-legal commission empowers the privateer to attack enemy shipping, on the understanding that the booty will be shared between the crown, ship owner, captain and crew.
Privateering reached its zenith in the aftermath of the Spanish Armada, when many of England’s illustrious sea captains turned to privateering. Sir Francis Drake was the most famous, but others were no less successful.
When Ward went to examine his ill-gotten treasure, he received a rude awakening. The ship’s Catholic owner had got wind of their plot and moved all his possessions ashore. Ward had stolen a vessel with no valuables whatsoever. Off the Isles of Scilly, his men spotted a French merchant ship. Ward hailed her, gave the sign of friendship and passed “many hours in courteous discourse” with the captain. But he eventually revealed his true colours, raising his piratical battle-cry for the first time. Within seconds, his men grappled the vessel and boarded it, seizing both ship and crew. Ward had scored his first success.
A big ship required a big crew. Ward sailed to Cawsand in Cornwall and convinced a band of smugglers and fishermen to sign up for what he promised would be the voyage of a lifetime. Their destination was the Mediterranean, where there were known to be rich pickings. Traders, merchantmen and galleons – all were to be targeted by Ward and his band.
Their first prize was a coastal trader laden with merchandise. Their second was a two-masted transport ship used to carry galley slaves. With these ships in tow, Ward headed for the port of Algiers, which had been a haven for pirates for many decades. He was out of luck. Just a few months earlier, the city had been attacked by an English privateer named Richard Gifford, and the city’s governor was understandably ill-disposed towards Englishmen.
Ward sailed instead for the port of Salé on the Atlantic coast of Morocco, another locale frequented by vagabonds. Its pirates had been attacking merchant ships for years, and had grown so bold that they’d started to raid the shores of England and France, seizing entire villages and selling them in the great slave markets of North Africa.
In Salé, Ward found himself in like-minded company. A number of English and Dutch pirates were already living in the port and they agreed to join his team. Ward sold his booty, trimmed his ships and headed for Tunis, in which he hoped to make his base. It was a voyage that would transform his life.
A titan of Tunis
Tunis was nominally ruled by a pasha appointed by the Ottoman Sultan in Istanbul but, by the time Ward arrived in 1605, the real power lay in the hands of Uthman Dey, leader of the janissary soldiers (janissaries being the Sultan’s household troops and bodyguards) garrisoned in the city. Wily and ruthless in equal measure, Uthman Dey had created a powerful guild of corsairs, and they preyed on shipping across the Mediterranean.
Uthman Dey may well have had second thoughts about welcoming this mixed band of Cornish smugglers and West Country ruffians. Toothless, heavily bearded and wearing a bizarre array of stolen velvet doublets and silken waistcoats, Ward’s pirates looked starkly different to the fabulously uniformed janissaries who patrolled the city.
Nonetheless, Dey recognised that Ward was a skilled pirate and allowed him to use Tunis as his centre of operations, just so long as he got a share of the loot.
Ward began capturing an astonishing array of vessels, including an English merchantman named John Baptist, richly laden with luxurious damasks. Ward renamed her the Little John, after the English folk hero. Another captured vessel was renamed the Gift, suggesting that Ward, though reportedly morose, had a sense of humour.
Many other ships were seized in the early spring of that first year in Tunis. One of the largest was the 300-ton Rubin, heavily laden with pepper, indigo and luxury goods purchased in Alexandria and destined for Venice. Also seized were the Elizabeth, Charity and Pearl, along with the Trojan of London: her English crew “were made slaves for shooting off but one shot in their own defence”.
Was John Ward the real Captain Jack Sparrow?
John Ward was the inspiration for the character of Captain Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean films. Ward’s nickname was ‘Sparrow’ and he was known for his flamboyant style – much like the Hollywood icon.
Ward so ingratiated himself with Uthman Dey that he was given a large plot of land in Tunis. He now set to work building himself a mansion on a scale and opulence that would have been unthinkable in his native England. One compatriot who visited the place described it as “a very stately house, far more fit for a prince than a pirate”. It was dripping with luxury, “a fair palace beautified with rich marble and alabaster stones”.
As for Ward himself, he began to play the role of swaggering Oriental potentate, living in “a most princely and magnificent state”. He also looked the part. “His apparel is both curious and costly, his diet sumptuous and his followers seriously observing and obeying his will.” In common with the greatest of lords, “he hath two cooks that dress and prepare his diet for him, and his taster before he eats”.
In April 1607, Ward was cruising along the Turkish coast when he spotted a vast merchant vessel on the horizon. As he set sail in pursuit, her faint outline slowly sharpened into view. Neither he nor his crew could quite believe their eyes. The Reniera e Soderina was “a great argosy of fourteen or fifteen hundred tons” – a veritable leviathan of a ship – and she was sailing from Aleppo with a cargo of silks, indigo and cotton. She was so heavily laden that she couldn’t manoeuvre in the light wind, making her a sitting duck for Ward’s more nimble vessels.
Ward shouted his battle-cry and the guns opened fire, blasting cannonballs directly into the hull. They pierced the ship’s timbers fully five times, setting light to bails of hay inside. The Reniera e Soderina fired back, but was unable to score a single hit.
After three hours of intense bombardment, Ward’s men prepared to board. As they did so, the Reniera e Soderina’s captain offered his crew the choice of fighting or surrendering. When they vowed to fight, he handed out small arms and deployed the bulk of his men on the quarterdeck.
Moments before Ward’s men grappled the ship, his gunners fired six rounds of lethal chain shot. It tore into the rigging and sails, but it also tore into the crew. Two men were shredded to morsels, causing those around them to drop their weapons in panic.
At this very moment, Ward himself leaped aboard. “In the deadly conflict he did so undauntedly bear himself,” one of his men said later, “as if he had courage to out-brave death.” The battle was long and fierce, but Ward was set on victory. “In the end, our captain had the sunshine: he boarded her, subdued her, chained her men like slaves.” Soon after, he sailed her back to Tunis in triumph.
The capture of the Reniera e Soderina was the zenith of Ward’s piratical career. He would never quite match this success. After refitting the ship in Tunis, he hired a crew and accompanied her on her first voyage as a pirate ship.
But that maiden voyage was also to be her last. Ward’s structural alterations to the cannon deck had so weakened the vessel that she broke up in a storm and sunk with the loss of 350 men. Ward himself slipped back to Tunis on one of the smaller vessels in his fleet.
News of the disaster irreparably damaged Ward’s reputation and he became an object of hatred for many in Tunis, especially those who had lost loved ones in the disaster. Ward found himself in desperate straits and became increasingly reliant on the protection of Uthman Dey.
Around 1610, he and his crew took the momentous decision to ‘turn Turk’, converting to Islam and settling permanently in Tunis. Ward himself changed his name to Yusuf Reis and married for a second time, even though he still had a wife in England. One who saw him in his later years described him as a shadow of his former self. “Very short with little hair, and that quite white, bald in front.” He spoke little, and when he did it was mostly swearing. “Drunk from morn till night … a fool and an idiot out of his trade.”
Ward’s legend blossomed even within his own lifetime, and he became the subject of plays, pamphlets, ballads and books that in turn demonised and romanticised his exploits as a corsair.
One of the best known is Captain Ward and the Rainbow, in which the King sends a ship called the Royal Rainbow after the perfidious pirate. Ward prevails, naturally, the rhyme ending with the lines: “Go tell the king of England, go tell him this from me, If he reign king of all the land, I will reign king at sea.”
These words provide a fitting epitaph for the man who, up to this point, might have been England’s most notorious pirate. For much of his long and troubled lifetime, Captain John Ward was indeed king of the sea.
Who were the Barbary corsairs?
The Barbary corsairs were pirates and privateers operating out of the three principal ports in North Africa (Algiers, Tunis and Tripoli, all in the Mediterranean) and the port of Salé, on the Atlantic coast of Morocco.
In the 16th century, they were mainly Muslim privateers who operated with the sanction of the Ottomanappointed rulers of the Barbary states (such as Oruç Reis and Hayreddin Barbarossa). They found easy prey in the richly laden and usually Christian ships plying the Mediterranean.
These early corsairs were later joined by large numbers of Dutch pirates and English privateers: the latter flocked here when forbidden from attacking Spanish shipping after the peace of 1604.
The Barbary corsairs reached their peak in the early 1600s. They were superb navigators and sailed enormous distances in their quest for plunder. Many of their estimated one million (at least) victims were sold in the great slave auctions of North Africa. Few ever returned home to their loved ones.
Giles Milton is a writer and author who specialises in narrative history
Mary Carleton: the most famous fake-princess pirate prostitute you’ve never heard of!
Besides rum there was one other thing that lured the pirate on a spree: the female sex. In Port Royal, for the most part, that meant whores. And there was no more famous whore, and none more representative of the type of grandiose scoundrel that called the city home, than Mary Carleton. To understand the kind of person that ended up in Port Royal and made it such a stink of vice in the eyes of the world, one must know Mary.
She’d been born the daughter of a fiddler and raised in the rural English district of Canterbury, and she arrived in London in 1663 on a river barge. She’d no intention of remaining a lowborn nobody, however.
Her route was impersonation: As she entered the first drinking house that would admit her, the Exchange Tavern, Mary suddenly became Maria von Wolway, a German princess down on her luck. The story she made up seemingly moment to moment was a heartbreaking one: With “teares standing in her eyes,” Mary revealed that she was a noble orphan who had been forced into an engagement with an old count against her will. She’d come to London, in disguise as an ordinary woman, leaving estates and mounds of jewels behind in Germany. She quickly married a local who thought he was getting a catch. When her scam was uncovered, her husband called her an “Out-landish Canterbury Monster,” and she was prosecuted for bigamy (it turned out she’d married before). Her trial at the Old Bailey became a Restoration drama of the first order. Spectators fought to get seats reporters hung on her every word the gentry argued pro or con at dinner parties. Samuel Pepys was decidedly pro-Mary he even visited her in prison.
Moralists were outraged that she’d pretended to be royalty, but Mary shot back that if she was not noble by birthright, she was a fast learner. During the trial she detailed her “intent care and elegancy of learning, to which I have by great labour and industry attained.”
Mary was acquitted of her crimes and became a public personality, in the style of the times. She published her own pamphlets, in which she struck to her story. She went onstage, of course, in a play written for her called The German Princess (Pepys panned it).
But when she was caught in yet another marriage, Mary was shipped off to Port Royal, which was the last stop for many English criminals sentenced to exile. There she dropped the act and went into prostitution. Mary would not arrive until 1671, in the wake of Morgan’s greatest triumph, but she embodied the wide-open days of the pirates there. She joined other professionals whose names basically gave their stories: Buttock-de-Clink Jenny, Salt-Beef Peg, and No-Conscience Nan.
Talty, Stephan. “Rich and Wicked.” Empire of Blue Water: Captain Morgan’s Great Pirate Army, the Epic Battle for the Americas, and the Catastrophe That Ended the Outlaws’ Bloody Reign. New York: Crown Publishing Group (NY), 2007. 132-33. Print.
7 The Norman Conquest
The Vikings also played a big role in William the Conqueror&rsquos invasion a century later, though they certainly didn&rsquot intend to. King Harold of England had just defeated King Harald of Norway outside York when he heard that another claimant to the English throne, Duke William of Normandy, had landed in Southern England. He left some of his army behind and went to meet him, marching long distances each day for a couple of weeks.
He met William&rsquos army at Hastings and was narrowly defeated in a close battle that has since become very famous. He died on the field of battle, though the story of him being hit in the eye with an arrow is likely untrue. Though William was now secure in his legal right to be king&mdashthe other two major claimants lying dead&mdashhe was by no means secure on the throne and faced almost constant rebellion for the next six years.
William brought the feudal system to medieval England, and he and his supporters built castles across the country to cement their control. He organized the creation of Domesday Book, a register of all the settlements of England, and restructured the tax system.  The feudal system came to define medieval England and wasn&rsquot abolished until 1660&mdashalmost 600 years after the invasion.
5 Roger de Flor
Originally a member of the Knights Templar, Roger de Flor was drummed out of the order after his disgraceful conduct at the Siege of Acre, where he took control of a Templar galley and charged huge fees to carry civilians to safety in Cyprus.
After a spell as a pirate, Roger saw a chance to secure his fortunes. The king of Aragon had dismissed many of his soldiers after signing a peace treaty in 1302. Many of the newly unemployed Catalans had been fighting for two decades and had no other marketable skills. Roger recruited 6,000 into a mercenary band known as the Catalan Company and signed a lucrative contract with the Byzantines.
The Catalans were mildly successful against the Turks, but they also looted Byzantine land and openly fought rival Byzantine soldiers. To make matters worse, Roger was clearly plotting to carve out his own kingdom in Anatolia. Declaring him a bandit, the Byzantines murdered him in 1305.
10 Pirates of the North Sea
Pirates are usually associated with the Caribbean Sea. Men like Henry Morgan and William Kidd left behind a legacy of adventure and great battles but piracy is something that&rsquos been going on for as long as men have traveled the seas. And it happened (and still does) all over the globe. The pirates of the North Sea were not much different from the ones we are used to hearing about. They mostly lived by a set of codes, they were just as brutal, and they had little to no respect for the government. The Scandinavian countries Norway and Denmark became a union at the end of the 1300&rsquos, and a wave of lawlessness arose from the wars between this new union and the monarchs of the neighboring nations, among them: England, Germany and Sweden. These pirates remain almost forgotten in history, despite their fascinating lives. Here are some of their tales.
In 1523, Christian II, King of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, lost his throne to Fredrik I. At that time, the most feared pirates were those who stood by Christian II to help him gain back his throne. Their job was to raid the sea and abduct as many ships as they possibly could, so that the former king could use these riches to stand against Fredrik I. It took him eight years, but it finally worked. However, the pirates who had been his allies now became outlaws fighting against him.
His solution was Kristoffer Trondsson and Otto Stigsson. They were both given the position as pirate hunters, and led their men into battle against the pirates. Even though they were widely feared, they were not successful in their job. Only one single ship was recorded to have been taken back by the pirate hunters. In the end, they both became bored with finding nothing, and became pirates themselves! They mostly abducted trade ships from Holland and Scotland on their way to Norway. Later on, Trondsson was actually hired as an admiral, in Norway.
In the fall of 1445, a German sailor named Steffen Smit and his crew, were caught in bad weather, and had no other option but to steer towards the port of Jæren, in Rogaland, Norway. They waited for weeks, without the weather giving any sign of calming down. But one day, they had some unexpected visitors. Erlend Eindridesson was one of the most respected men in Norway, and with him he had two ships and sixty men. He was known for his dislike of Germans.
The Norwegian pirates threatened to steal their cargo. Smit, on the other hand, knew it would look bad for Eindridesson&rsquos reputation if he stole from a German ship. The two countries were at peace at the time, and he had papers to prove his rights as a trader. Eindridesson let them be, but Smit knew it wasn&rsquot over.
At night, while no one noticed, Eindridesson and his men cut the ropes attaching the ship to the docks, and the ship was crushed toward it by the waves. At once, they insisted on helping the Germans, saving the cargo and bringing it to shore. Smit never saw the cargo again.
Martin Pechlin was one of the most notorious pirates in the 1500&rsquos. He was brutal and without mercy, and it is said that he once hijacked twelve ships in one day! But, in 1526, he met his match. Three ships coming from Germany were caught in a storm and ended up somewhere by the Norwegian coastline. There they docked in a fjord, hoping to trade with the farmers living nearby. But because of the heavy mist, neither they, nor the pirates, could see each other as they docked on each their side of the fjord.
The next day, the Germans were visited by two young boys coming to trade with them. They were spies, sent by the pirates to find out more about the crew they were about to attack. Captain Thode saw through their lies, and prevented them from delivering the information. Nothing happened before the next morning, when Pechlin and his pirate crew opened fire.
The sailors proved to be good fighters, and Pechlin&rsquos ship was, in the end, caught between the enemies, and the Germans ended it with a bullet to his head. Only fourteen pirates managed to escape, six were taken alive, and the remaining sixty men of Pechlin&rsquos former crew had been killed in battle.
In the 13 and 1400&rsquos, the sea was ruled by &ldquoFataljebrødrene&rdquo a band of pirates coming from all of the Northern countries. These pirates lived by a strict code, and they were known as &ldquoLikedelere&rdquo, which means &ldquoThose who share equally&rdquo. Over the years they had many leaders, or pirate kings. Klaus Størtebecker was one of them. He is maybe one of the most legendary pirates of Northern Europe. It is said he sailed a ship with a mast of gold, and that he once buried an enormous treasure somewhere in Germany, which has yet to be found. To people of that time, he was like a Robin Hood at sea stealing from the rich traders, and being generous to the poor. Also he was a fearless warrior in battle. In the end he was hanged in a gold rope long enough to reach around the city of Hamburg, and his dying wish was for the executioners to grant pardon to all those of his men he could walk past &ndash after his execution! It is said five men were pardoned.
Voet was the next leader of &ldquoFataljebrødrene&rdquo, after Størtebecker. He was his equal in fighting skills, but this guy didn&rsquot show any mercy as to whether people were poor or rich. At one point, he went to the Norwegian city of Bergen, and, after robbing it of everything worth taking, he burnt the whole city down. The citizens fought back, but even though they outnumbered the pirates, they were defeated. Voet escaped from Bergen with all of the stolen goods he could carry with him.
In 1808, a Swedish pirate ship by the name &ldquoRinaldini&rdquo, set sail to the North Sea to abduct one last Danish-Norwegian trade ship before winter. At the same time, the Norwegian ships &ldquoFortuna&rdquo, and &ldquoElisabeth Maria Tønder&rdquo, both trade ships, too started their journey and apparently faith wanted them all to meet in open sea. The Swedish pirates quickly took command of the &ldquoFortuna&rdquo, before turning on the &ldquoElisabeth Maria Tønder&rdquo. It all went smoothly, without much resistance, and the pirates started on their way back to Sweden with the new ships and their crew. The problem was: their safe docking place was far ahead, and it would take a long time to get back. They were caught in a storm, and it seemed almost impossible to get back, and even more so when they saw the Norwegian coastline in the distance.
The captain turned to the Norwegian captains of the &ldquoFortuna&rdquo and the &ldquoElisabeth&rdquo, ordering them to tell him where they were. But they told him they didn&rsquot know. At that time, the Norwegians decided to take action, before the Swedish chose to turn toward England, instead (which they were about to). Illness, the cold, and a huge portion of bad luck, meant the Swedish pirates could do almost nothing, when the Norwegian captain Liung stepped forward, and ordered them to set sail toward the nearest dock. The pirates neither said nor did anything to stop him.
In 1808, the Norwegian pirate captain, Tønnes Kaade Samuelsen, and his crew set sail for the sea, to do what pirates do best. But it was in the middle of the winter, and no tradeships dared sail the North Sea at this time of year. So, Samuelsen got bored, and decided to do something about it. He and his men set sail for England, disguised themselves as fishermen coming home, and once in the dock, cut the ropes of the biggest ship they could find, and just sailed it back to Norway. He continued with this tactic for most of his career before his ship sunk in a storm, and took him and the entire crew with it.
If there was one thing a pirate roaming around in the North Sea would want to avoid at all costs, it was being arrested outside the coastline of England. If that was to happen, they would be imprisoned for years. Captain Røscher, an old Danish-Norwegian pirate, almost met this fate. It happened in 1810 Captain Røscher and the crew of his ship &ldquoTak for sidst&rdquo were in a poor state due to the fatal weather of the season. But despite this setback they managed to take the command of an English ship, led by Captain William Dimond. The crew of the ship claimed to be Americans, but Røscher knew better. He split the captured crew so that they could be organized in two smaller groups on each of the ships, and left his first mate in command of his old ship.
Then, the Englishmen decided to act. Aboard the &ldquoTak for Sidst&rdquo, the first mate, Erik Fries, who was a highly skilled pirate, personally took care of the riot, and proceeded sailing towards Norway. Røscher, on the other hand, was not as lucky. The pirates were locked up, and Captain Dimond set sail back to Scotland, where the pirates would be taken directly to England. Røscher was furious and plotted revenge with his crew whenever he had the chance. And finally he found the solution. One of the crew members of the English ship was a young Swedish man, who in the end was talked into helping them. He let them out just when Captain Dimond and his crew were inside eating, and the pirates just locked them inside the ship and regained control. The Englishmen made no further attempts to escape, and soon Captain Røscer could see the coastline of Norway, just days after &ldquoTak for Sidst&rdquo had found its way home.
Knut Ellingsen was a highly skilled Norwegian pirate, and the captain of the ship &ldquoDen Veivisende Paquet&rdquo(Paquet the Pathfinder). The same day the event happened, the year of 1810, he had already hijacked a ship, and he and the crew were on their lookout for more, when a much bigger English ship came in sight. It soon became clear Ellingsen had been caught in the act, with a clearly stolen ship. The Englishmen told them to surrender peacefully, and it seemed they had no other choice. Now, whether it was a direct order from Ellingsen, or just a miscalculation by the man behind the wheel, is uncertain but just when the Englishmen thought they had them, and were about to jump aboard, the Norwegians set full sail, and escaped by just sailing away. The Englishmen were shocked by the rude maneuver, which resulted in a brutal chase after the pirates. The pirate ship was much faster, but the English were better armed, and soon it was hailing bullets over the pirate ship. Ellingsen shouted at his crew to get out of the way, as the master sail came falling down at them, tip first.
Standing up was impossible, because of the bullets, so Ellingsen did something that would later earn him the Order of Dannebrog. He lay down on his back, avoiding the bullets, and steered the ship using his feet! Because of his skills as a sailor, and even with the master sail down, he managed to lose the Englishmen, and steer the ship into a safe fjord, saving himself and his crew.
Jan Mendoza was a Spanish pirate, whose career in the North Sea was making the Danish-Norwegian king Christian IV frustrated, because of all the economical damages he inflicted. So, to make an end to it, he sent two pirate hunters after him Admiral Jørgen Daa, and the Norwegian explorer and adventurer Jens Munk. They chased Mendoza from England to the coast of northern Russia, and back, with the two battleships &ldquoVictor&rdquo, and &ldquoJupiter&rdquo. They finally caught up with him, but Captain Daa became too eager in his hunt, and hoisted too many sails to catch up with Mendoza, so the entire ship almost ended up side down. But Jens Munk chased Mendoza into a small fjord, where all three ships anchored to repair the damages. Captain Mendoza&rsquos ship was taking in water, and for such a heavy ship, there was no way they could just set sail. They had no other choice but to fight.
Captain Daa on the other hand, wanted to solve matters peacefully, and suggested a meeting where they would discuss surrender. But Mendoza rejected his invitation, unless Captain Daa was willing to offer Jens Munk as insurance. Munk didn&rsquot mind, but the same second he set foot on Mendoza&rsquos ship, he was bound and treated like a prisoner. Of course, Mendoza never kept his promise to Captain Daa, but remained on the ship. Jens Munk stayed the night, because he knew Captain Daa would signal him with a cannon shot when they came to help him. But because he had seen their every defense, he wanted to find a better strategy than what they had already planned. So he threatened Mendoza, with such calm firmness, that the Spanish pirate sat him free. Munk and Captain Daa attacked the pirates shortly after, coming from three sides: the &ldquoVictor, &ldquoJupiter&rdquo, and from the beach. After a long fight, where one third of Mendoza&rsquos crew were killed, and all three ships were almost blown to pieces, Captain Mendoza finally admitted defeat. The remaining crew were executed by drowning, and Captain Mendoza and his first mate were sent to Copenhagen to be hanged. Captain Daa and Jens Munk found in Mendoza&rsquos ship, riches worthy of a great pirate: ten chests of gold, all so heavy it took ten men to carry just one of them.
Although the Vikings were not known for battles in open waters, they did attack from the seas, often targeting islands. They were the terror of the sea in their time, and many of them probably ventured into piracy every now and then, in addition to pillaging churches and villages.
The Real-Life Pirate That Jack Sparrow Was Based On
Pirates of the Caribbean’s Jack Sparrow may be the worst pirate you’ve ever heard of, but he is based on the real legendary pirate John Ward.
Pirates of the Caribbean’s Jack Sparrow may be the worst pirate you’ve ever heard of, but he is based on the real Barbary pirate John Ward. Johnny Depp modeled his performance of Sparrow after Rolling Stones frontman Keith Richards, considering pirates were the rock stars of their age, but that’s not the only source of inspiration for Pirates of the Caribbean’s beloved character. John Ward, often known as Jack, was nicknamed Sparrow, and his eccentric ways and winding history often parallel his fictional counterpart.
John Ward began his career in the 16th century as a privateer, a pirate sanctioned by a government to attack enemy ships, but when a new king took the English throne, privateering was outlawed. Like many out-of-work privateers, Ward turned to piracy. He heard rumors about a Catholic merchant about to sail his valuables to France, and he persuaded 30 men to join him in taking the ship. The valuables had been removed from the ship before they arrived, but Ward took the ship anyway, and he and his crew started searching for loot on the seas. His career began before the Golden Age of Piracy, but he became one of the most legendary pirates of his time.
Instead of working in Jack Sparrow’s hunting grounds of the Caribbean, Ward made his way to the Mediterranean. He set up his base in Tunis, Tunisia, where an official in the Ottoman Empire welcomed him in exchange for a share of his loot. Ward captured a number of ships sailing the Mediterranean heavy with trade goods, including an enormous Venetian galley that became his greatest success. Meanwhile, he started building himself a mansion fit for a prince in Tunis and took to wearing “curious and costly” attire. A wealthy and respected pirate, but also extremely eccentric, Ward was the picture of Jack Sparrow at his height as captain of the Black Pearl.
His success did not last forever. As in the true stories of many pirates, he soon met his downfall. He refitted the Venetian galley, but it broke up in a storm and sent 350 men to their deaths at sea. Ward’s reputation never recovered from the disaster as he returned to Tunis. He was considered bad luck, and he was drunk most of the time in his retirement. One source described him as “a fool and an idiot out his trade.” [via History] In his later years, Ward mirrors the washed-up and down on his luck Jack Sparrow of the movies much more closely.
Although John Ward fell from grace, he was considered one of the most notorious English pirates to rule the seas in his day, a fitting inspiration for Jack Sparrow. Even within his lifetime, Ward’s illustrious career spawned books, plays, and songs. His legacy would later be overshadowed by names like Blackbeard, but his exploits still turned him into a folk hero to inspire stories for centuries to come. Pirates of the Caribbean draws heavily from pirate legend and lore, and John Ward had quite a legend.
Roland&rsquos performance holds a significant place in the history of professional flatulence.
Roland&rsquos medieval world was one without TV, YouTube, or Instagram. Nowadays, if you want to see someone fart, it would only take you a few seconds to search and find a video, watch it, chuckle, and move on to something funnier (good luck).
However, in the middle ages, the need for entertainment was fulfilled by jesters like Roland. He often performed in the streets or the courts of nobility and royal families in exchange for money or, in rare cases, property. To which Roland the Farter served as the latter.
In fact, the flatulist was so successful with his timely farting abilities that King Henry II gave him his own manor house in Hemingstone, Suffolk, a region east of London. To some readers, this historical event might indicate that medievals were a mannerless uncivilized people who unabashedly laughed at middle school humor even more than we do today. The truth, however, is far more complicated than that.
jesters performing for the Royal family
Most scholars believe that the medievals still saw flatulence much in the same way we do today, as a disgusting taboo, a socially problematic aspect of the body we often avoid talking about. Some even believed farting to be a constant sign of our mortality. Only the middle ages could come up with something that depressing.
However, Roland shows us the other side of that view, the funny side we all know and love. All wrapped up in one crucial document, the only credible historical source we have of him, that summarizes Roland&rsquos unique performance and the incredible reward he earned from the King.
The only credible source that ever mentions Roland is the Book of Fees, a 13th-century document used to account for the many fees owed by and towards the Crown.
Amongst a list of very serious and vital bureaucratic deals are a brief description of Roland&rsquos performance and the payment he received from the Crown.
&ldquoUnum saltum et siffletum et unum bumbulum.&rdquo
While these may seem like nonsense words to most, they&rsquore actually Latin. After a good translation, the sentence briefly explains that Roland would perform &ldquoone jump, one whistle, and one fart&rdquo in a short one-person symphony of bodily noises. The three-part show was part of the King&rsquos annual Christmas celebration, apparently serving as the grand finale to the overall holiday festivities.
Aside from being hilarious and an obvious indication of how much the British monarchy&rsquos Christmas traditions have changed, Roland&rsquos performance holds a significant place in the history of professional flatulence.
The performance is one of the earliest mentions of professional flatulence in medieval history, alongside 12 musical farters in Ireland who farted their way to fame during the same century as Roland. These historical records show that flatulence was more than just a joke for some, it was a livelihood.
As previously mentioned, the fee book tells us that Roland got paid some serious cheddar&mdashfar more than most middle-class Englishmen did at the time.
In addition to the manor house, the medieval flatulist was awarded at least 30 acres of land, with some scholars estimating he received as much as 100 acres. That is some serious acreage, even for medieval times. Apparently, King Henry II had a very passionate sense of humor for well-timed gas, as we still do to this day.
a court jester
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1 LITTLE WOMEN
This year this amazing film took home the Oscar for the best costume design and it's easy to see why. The movie has drawn a lot of attention due to the brilliant cast assembled and of course because of the classic novel that it's based on.
However, the costumes themselves would have been incredibly difficult to create, not to mention due to it being award season they had to be as historically accurate as possible to win the Academy Award. The team behind these incredible looks certainly achieved that.