>I blame Disney World for my love of pirate history. I have vague images from when I was three of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride and I’m almost positive that ignited my interest. And while movie pirates make better heroes than the real thing, the truth can still be fascinating. To kick off pirate week, let’s explore a little about pirate history and the people who made it.
Not Just in the Caribbean
I imagine many of us think of the Caribbean when you think of pirates (or maybe you think Somalia). But piracy goes back to ancient times and covers pretty much every coastline. The Aegean Sea was a special hot spot for ancient pirates (and today is a hot bed of shipwrecks). The Vikings count as pirates. Corsairs from the Barbary Coast in Africa threatened the Mediterranean once upon a time. Farther east in the South China Sea, pirates were so prevalent that they had their own squadrons!
When you think of pirates the obvious next leap is treasure. Pirate loot included cold hard cash, but they took almost anything of value, including necessary items like salt. Jewels and amphorae filled with olive oil also made good plunder. Corsairs especially valued the humans on board the ships they attacked – they used slaves as oarsmen for their galleys. (Wealthier captives were ransomed.) Basically anything considered valuable by the people of the time was fair game for pirates.
Some pirates are more famous to the general public than others. For instance, Edward “Blackbeard” Teach is infamous for lighting his beard on fire during pirate raids. Mary Read and Anne Bonny are probably more famous than the man they worked under. Henry Morgan may also be a familiar name thanks to a brand of rum.
You may know Captain William Kidd’s name. What you may not know is that he started as a pirate hunter and was accused of piracy by the British East India Company while in this profession. It looks like a misunderstanding from today’s perspective. But whether he was innocent or not, Kidd was promptly tried and hung, and they set his body up in a gibbet as an example to would-be pirates. Poor Kidd may not have been what he seemed to the government at the time. But it’s rather too late to save his reputation now. (We’ll see more of Kidd later in the week.)
“Black Sam” Bellamy is another name you may have heard but know little about. He has a love story attached to his name and supposedly returned to New England to marry his sweetheart after one last successful capture. Unfortunately, the poor guy sunk with his ship in a bad storm just off of Cape Cod, Mass. before that could happen. (Get more of his story in the Behind-the-Book section on my site.)
Not Even the Half of It
I could write pages and pages of info just covering the highlights of pirate history. I have a couple of favorite go-to reference books that are both fun and informative and not at all the dry pages of text often associated with history books. If you’re a history geek like me who prizes an interesting read, check out Piratepedia and Pirateology. I know they seem like they’re for kids, but they’re really just as good for adults.
And thus begins Pirate Week! Stay tuned to get caught up on your pirate lingo, get the scoop on some real buried treasure, and find out how much you know about pirates!
Now it’s your turn. Do you have any interesting tidbits about pirates?
I just launched my website – www.amysnovels.com – and it includes some cool features. Instead of just the basic book info, bio, and contact pages, you can peek behind-the-scenes of Dead Locked and find out who inspired Isaac Crewe and the story of The Freelove, learn how the characters came about, and read trivia tidbits about the story and characters. I plan to add to this section as time goes on so check back for updates!
I think it’s time to shake things up a bit here at amy & the pen so next week is officially Pirate Week! From December 13-17, get the scoop on pirate terms, history, and treasure. Every day will feature something fun and different and there may even be a Dead Locked character appearance. Stay tuned!
>I completely forgot to mention this last week, but I just reached 50 followers. Huzzah! Thanks to everyone who follows and comments. It’s much appreciated!
We are so, so close to the release of Dead Locked now! I can’t believe how fast summer has gone by. I’m relieved to be in the home stretch, but it’s a little scary too. So in anticipation of its debut, I’m hosting Pirate Week on my blog! Yes, friends, pirates will rule amy & the pen as well as the seven seas. I’m planning for it as we speak and will announce the dates soon. I can tell you there will be fun, prizes, and lots of swashbuckling! Stay tuned!
What exciting things do you have cooking right now?