Who were the pirates of the 17th and 18th centuries, and what enabled them to rise to power? In Europe, pirates could be treated as celebrities or tried as criminals. At sea, pirate crews made legal agreements covering not only the division of loot, but forms of health insurance and injury benefits. Contrary to the pirates of Hollywood, moreover, crews were often multiracial, with men (and sometimes women) from Europe, Africa, and the Caribbean working side by side. This week’s episode will look at what made piracy attractive, what made its unusual degree of equality possible, and how pirate legends have endured and been used in subsequent centuries.
Claire Jowitt, ed. Pirates? The Politics of Plunder, 1550-1650. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007.
C.R Pennell, ed. Bandits at Sea: A Pirates Reader. New York: NYU Press, 2001. (see especially Kenneth J. Kinkor, “Black Men Under the Black Flag,” 194-210.)
Ritchie, Robert. Captain Kidd and the War Against the Pirates. Harvard University Press, 1989.
A.O. Exquemelin. The Buccaneers of America; a True Account of the Famous Adventures and Daring Deeds of Sir Henry Morgan and Other Notorious Freebooters of the Spanish Main. Mineola, New York: Dover, 1969
Music by Kevin MacLeod (www.incompetech.com)