Portal:Piracy

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The Piracy Portal

Introduction

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Piracy is a robbery committed at sea, or sometimes on the shore, by an agent without a commission from a sovereign nation. The Golden Age of Piracy occurred mostly in the Caribbean, the American coast, the Indian Ocean, and the western coast of Africa. As British imperialism spread across Europe it brought about many drastic structural changes due to which many sailors and privateers found themselves unemployed. Factors contributing to piracy included the rise in quantities of valuable cargoes being shipped to Europe over vast ocean areas, the weakness of European navies in peacetime, the training and experience that many sailors had gained as conscripts in European navies (particularly the Royal Navy), and the weakness of European government in overseas colonies.

Seaborne piracy against transport vessels remains a significant issue (with estimated worldwide losses of US$13 to $16 billion per year), particularly in the waters between the Pacific and Indian Oceans, off the Somali coast, and in the Strait of Malacca and Singapore, which are used by over 50,000 commercial ships a year. A recent surge in piracy off the Somali coast spurred a multi-national effort led by the United States to patrol the waters near the Horn of Africa to combat piracy. While boats off the coasts of North Africa and the Mediterranean Sea are still assailed by pirates, the Royal Navy and the U.S. Coast Guard have nearly eradicated piracy in U.S. waters and the Caribbean Sea.


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Portrait of William Kidd
William "Captain" Kidd (c. 1645 – May 23, 1701) was a Scottish sailor remembered for his trial and execution for piracy after returning from a voyage to the Indian Ocean. Some modern historians deem his piratical reputation unjust, as there is evidence that Kidd acted only as a privateer. Kidd's fame springs largely from the sensational circumstances of his questioning before the English Parliament and the ensuing trial. His actual depredations on the high seas, whether piratical or not, were both less destructive and less lucrative than those of many other contemporary pirates and privateers.

According to most scholars, Kidd was born into a reputable family in Belfast, Ireland in 1645. However, recent genealogical research suggests that Kidd was born in Dundee, despite his 'death-row' claim to be from Greenock. According to myth or other stories, his "father was thought to have been a Church of Scotland minister". After the death of his father, when he was five-years old, Kidd moved to the colony of New York. It was here that he befriended many prominent colonial citizens, including three governors.

Selected article

Treasure-Island-map.jpg

A treasure map is a variation of a map to mark the location of buried treasure, a lost mine, a valuable secret, or a hidden locale. More common in fiction than in reality, "Pirate treasure maps" are often depicted in works of fiction as hand drawn and containing arcane clues for the characters to follow. Regardless of the terms literary genesis, anything that meets the criteria of a "map" describing the location of a "treasure" could appropriately be called a treasure map. Although buried pirate treasure is a favorite literary theme, there are very few documented cases of pirates actually burying treasure, and no documented cases of a historical pirate treasure map.

One documented case of buried treasure involved Francis Drake who buried Spanish gold and silver after raiding the mule train at Nombre de Dios — after Drake went to find his ships, he returned six hours later and retrieved the loot and sailed for England. Another case in 1720 involved British Captain Stratton of the Prince Eugene who, after supposedly trading — rum with pirates in the Caribbean, buried his gold near the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. One of his crew, Morgan Miles, turned him into the authorities, and it is assumed the loot was recovered. In any case, Captain Stratton was not a pirate, and made no map. (more...)

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I am sorry to see you here Jack, but if you had fought like a man, you need not be hanged like a dog.

Anne Bonny

Did you know...

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  • ...that English pirate Henry Every, who was sometimes known as Long Ben, was one of the few major pirate captains to retire with his loot without being arrested or killed in battle?
  • ...that red Jolly Roger flags were the most feared of all; all prayed they never encountered the "Bloody Red," which boldly declared that no mercy would be shown and all victims would be killed?
  • ...that, while it is unknown if pirates actually kept parrots as pets, it is thought that at least some captains kept cats aboard to keep populations of rats and other vermin down?
  • ...that, unlike traditional Western societies of the time, many pirate clans operated as limited democracies, demanding the right to elect and replace their leaders?

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Pyle pirate relaxing2.jpg
Image credit: Howard Pyle's Book of Pirates

Howard Pyle's fanciful painting of Captain Kidd and his ship, the Adventure Galley, in a New York City harbor. The Adventure Galley was a three-mast square-rigged ship, which weighed 287 tons, had 34 cannons, and a crew of about 150. When it was badly leaking it was lost in San Maria, a formable pirate base. It was stripped and the rest burned. It still remains in the shallow bay of the island.

Selected Jolly Roger

devil skeleton with spear and hourglass, aiming at a heart
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