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Pirates

 

 

The following are the types of pirates: 

A Buccaneer
A Corsair
A Privateer

 

A Buccaneer

Initially hunter’s of cattle and pigs on the Island of what is now known as Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The Buccaneers got their name from the meaning of the French word "boucan" (which means barbecue), as they were frequently seen barbecuing their meat on grills (they learned this form of cooking from the Arawak Indians).

The buccaneers were driven out by the Spanish, and the persecuted hunters banded with groups of runaway slaves, deserters, and other’s who hated the Spanish and sought vengeance on their vessels. The word buccaneer soon became common, and by the XVII century was used to describe pirates and privateers who had bases in the West Indies.

A Corsair

The term refers to pirates or privateers who operated in the Mediterranean. The most recognized corsairs were from the Barbary Coast of North Africa (European crusaders named their Muslim enemies "Barbary Corsairs"). The "Corsairs of Almissa" operated in the Adriatic Sea (XII and XIII century).

These corsairs were authorized by their governments to prey upon the shipping lanes of Christian countries. The Maltese Corsairs led the fight against the Turks, being led by the Knights of St. John. The Maltese Corsairs initially fought for religion, but after a while the rewards of piracy grew to greater appeal. Soon the Maltese Corsairs were full-fledged pirates, with no interest in religious ideals.  

 

 A Privateer

A privateer was a pirate who by commission or letter of marque from the government was authorized to seize or destroy a merchant vessel of another nation. The privateer was used as a cheap means of weakening the enemy by frequenting shipping routes (avoiding the costs related to the maintenance and creation of a navy).

In theory no Privateer with a letter of marque could be charged with piracy, since it was recognized by international law. However, it was not uncommon for privateers to be charged and prosecuted for piracy by hostile nations. All occurrences of vessels captured by privateers had to be brought before an Admiralty Court where they were tried to ensure that their plunder was legal game.

 

 

History of Piracy

The history of piracy dates back more than 3000 years, but its accurate account depends on the actual meaning of the word ‘pirate’. In English, the word piracy has many different meanings and its usage is still relatively new. Today, some uses of the word have no particular meaning at all. A meaning was first ascribed to the word piracy sometime before the XVII century. It appears that the word pirate (peirato) was first used in about 140 B.C. by the Roman historian Polybius. The Greek historian Plutarch, writing in about 100 A.D., gave the oldest clear definition of piracy. He described pirates as those who attack without legal authority not only ships, but also maritime cities. Piracy was described for the first time, among others, in Homer's "The Iliad" and "The Odyssey". For a great many years there remained no unambiguous definition of piracy. Norse riders of the IX and XI century A.D. were not considered pirates but rather, were called "Danes" or "Vikings". Another popular meaning of the word in medieval England was "sea thieves". The meaning of the word pirate most closely tied to the contemporary was established in the XVIII century. This definition dubbed pirates "outlaws" whom even persons who were not soldiers could kill. The first application of international law actually involved anti-pirate legislation. This is due to the fact that most pirate acts were committed outside the borders of any country.

Sometimes governments gave rights to the pirates to represent them in their wars. The most popular form was to give a license to a private sailor to attack enemy shipping on behalf of a specific king – Privateer. Very often a privateer when caught by the enemy was tried as an outlaw notwithstanding the license. Below we tried to outline a selective history of piracy, selective and arbitrary because there is so much that can be said about piracy and it is impossible to tell all. We hope that even this brief introduction will show the spirit and truth about the piracy the way we see it.

 

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