Monday, February 23, 2015
Wednesday, February 11, 2015
Peter Cloise was a Caribbean slave who was "taken" from his "owner" by the English pirate Edward Davis in the mid-1600's. According to accounts, Cloise and Davis became fast friends and pirated together not only in the Caribbean but also off the coast of Brazil. Davis and Cloise were Buccaneers-- although the term eventually came to be synonymous with "pirate," in Cloise's day the "Buccaneer" label was given to Caribbean pirates with large crews who often attacked coastal cities. England gave letters of marque to Buccaneers, legalizing their raids against England's main rival in the region-- Spain.
Not much is known about Cloise. He was arrested in 1688, and contradicted Davis' statement that he was "never a privateer," which may have been damning or exonerating, depending on who was doing the prosecuting. In any case Davis was pardoned by King James II and Cloise may have been the recipient of that deal as well. Possibly related to the pardon: some of the loot that Cloise and Davis raised were used to build a college in the name of the next generation of royals: William and Mary.
Sunday, February 8, 2015
A man in Fair Oaks, California was caught on video brazenly walking up to a house and taking a box of booty.
The man was smoking tobacco, covered in Tattoos, and probably came from the nearby community of "Gold River." He walked right up to the door, knocked politely, then took the box and absconded with the loot.
So why are the news outlets calling him a box thief? He has tattoos like a pirate. He smokes tobacco like a pirate. He approaches in a guise of friendliness and then takes what he wants. He's clearly a pirate.
The clincher? The box was full of pirate party favors. Here's the full story: Pirate jacks party favors in Fair Oaks
Friday, February 6, 2015
Black Caesar was an African chieftain who evaded capture by slavers many times until he was tricked aboard a vessel with promises of trade. A sea captain approached his band of warriors and, showing them a watch, said there were goods too heavy and numerous to carry on his ship. He invited them aboard and showed them various treasures, jewels, and silk. He plied the men with food and drink, and Caesar soon found that the ship had secretly set sail while they were on board. The Africans tried to fight the crew, but the slavers were well armed and quickly subdued them.
One of the sailors befriended Caesar during the voyage, and when a hurricane threatened to destroy the ship off the coast of Florida, the white sailor freed Caesar and the two escaped in a lifeboat. They took up lodging on a small island in the upper keys and began pirating. The two men would approach a ship in their lifeboat and pretend to be castaways, and once on board would subdue and rob the crew.
They were quite successful for a time. Legend says that Black Caesar had a prison camp for captives to be ransomed, and that he and his partner had a way to hide their boat underwater if anyone sailed near, to keep up the ruse that the island had no inhabitants. It all went sour, though, when Caesar's partner brought home a particularly attractive female captive. The two men fought over her, and Caesar killed his former friend.
Some time later, Black Caesar joined the pirate crew of none other than Blackbeard (Edward Teach) and became his lieutenant, successfully raiding American merchant ships in the Mid-Atlantic. When Blackbeard was finally killed, Caesar attempted to light the whole powder magazine (in what we suppose would now be called a suicide bombing), but he was subdued and captured before he could light the fuse. He was tried and executed for piracy.
To this day, the island that served as his headquarters for ten years still bears his name as "Caesar's Rock."
Thursday, February 5, 2015
In many of the Commonwealth nations, namely the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, February is celebrated as "Black History Month." And the history of Piracy is an important part of the African Diaspora. Most of the well-known pirate captains of the Golden Age had significant numbers of Africans on their crews. Blackbeard's crew was at times up to sixty percent black.
Upon capturing a slave ship, many pirate captains invited the enslaved people on board to join their crews, usually with an equal vote and an equal share of the treasure. Many runaway slaves also turned pirate, as they were already "outlaws." Pirating was a good way to get paid while evading the authorities.
The chief difference between European and African pirates was this: when captured, European pirates were executed, while African pirates were usually sold or re-sold into slavery. We'll leave it to the reader to decide which fate was worse.
Many pirates of all ethnicities lived and died unsung, their names lost in the tide. But there are a number of black pirates we know by name, whose part in history must not be marginalized. This month we'll profile several historical black pirates in honor of Black History Month.
Tuesday, February 3, 2015
After much development and many delays, the fifth film in the powerful Pirates of the Caribbean franchise is set to begin filming in two weeks. Producer Jerry Bruckheimer tweeted a photo from the set:
We hope this film brings a great story as well as a jolt of adrenaline for Johnny Depp's fatigued career. In our opinion, the quality of these stories has been hit-or-miss; but they are visually great, and anything that keeps the spirit of the Golden Age of Piracy alive is good in our book!
Visit Ye Pirate Shoppe for recommendations of pirate media to keep ye content while we await the release.