Tuesday, February 2, 2010

This Day in Pyrate Historie

The year was 1689. Robert Culliford, William Kidd and six other Britons were shipmates on a French privateering vessel called the Sainte Rose. They had been plundering with the sanction of King Louis XIV of France, the "Sun King." But when tensions with the Holy Roman Empire erupted into the Nine Years' War, Culliford and his countrymen mutinied and took over the ship. Kidd became the new Captain. They renamed the ship Blessed William, and used it to defend English colonies and to privateer against the French. But then, on February 2 of 1690, Culliford stole the ship and went Caribbean pirate! It's a little unclear whether Culliford mutinied against Kidd, or simply took the ship while he was ashore, but in any case today marks the anniversary of the start of Culliford's pirate career.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Tampa: Gasparilla Pirate Festival

The 106th annual Gasparilla Pirate Festival and Parade will be this Saturday, January 30th, in Tampa, Florida.

This Mardi-Gras-style festival celebrates the (probably folkloric) pirate José Gaspar, who supposedly hailed from Spain and operated along the west coast of Florida in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

Official site: www.gasparillapiratefest.com (beware noisy Flash site)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Bring Me the Head of Klaus Stoertebeker!

The 600-year-old skull of a famous medieval German pirate has been on display at the Museum for Hamburg History since 1922. Or at least it had, until this month.

Authorities report that the skull of Klaus Stoertebecker was stolen from the museum on January 9th.

In the late 1300's, Klaus was the leader of the Victual Brothers, a band of privateers fighting the Danish and bringing supplies to the besieged city of Stockholm. After the war, they continued capturing merchant ships for their own enrichment, calling themselves "Likedeelers," which means "equal sharers."

Like many pirates, Klaus was eventually captured and executed by the authorities. His severed head was nailed to the wall of the Hamburg Town Hall as a deterrent to would-be miscreants.

Klaus' colorful nickname, Stoertebeker, means "drains the cup in one gulp."

So if you should happen to run across a 600-year-old pirate skull in your travels, please pour a mug of beer in it for old time's sake.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Pirate Doings in Michigan

This weekend, Jan 22-24, is ConFusion, a science fiction and fantasy convention being held at the Marriott in Troy, Michigan. We hear there will be a "pirate rock band" performing Friday night. Also, rumors abound of a "roving pirate party" that invades people's hotel rooms with a minibar shaped like a pirate ship. Sounds like not your average scifi geeks...


Friday, January 8, 2010

On Stranger Tides

The fourth installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean series will be released in 2011. It is based, in part, on the award-winning 1988 novel "On Stranger Tides" by celebrated Fantasy/Magical Realism author Tim Powers. It combines piracy with the supernatural, a perfect fit for the PotC franchise. Do yourself a favor and read this book while you're waiting for the movie to come out. We only wonder if they kept Blackbeard in the film script. Powers himself speculates that Blackbeard's role in the tale will be taken on by mutinous first mate Barbossa.