(from the Greek peirates – robber, robber) – sea robbery, in international law, illegal seizure, robbery or sinking of commercial and other civil vessels committed on the high seas by private or state courts. Piracy is equivalent to the attack during the war of ships, submarines and military aircraft on merchant vessels of neutral countries. In modern international law, the usual rules have developed, according to which pirate ships and their crews should not be protected by any state.


A pirate ship can be pursued on the high seas, and in case of resistance it can sink military ships of any state. The crew of such a ship is subject to criminal prosecution and punishment, and the ship itself is confiscated according to the laws of the seized state. Military vessels of any state, if they have sufficient grounds to suspect that a ship is engaged in sea robbery, have the right to detain a suspected vessel. The customary rules of international law relating to the fight against piracy are codified in the Geneva Convention on the High Seas, 1958.

Pirates buried their prey on uninhabited islands.

The treasure seekers rummaged the mountains of the earth in search of pirate gold. But thanks to the found treasures, nobody was able to get rich, because pirates never buried their prey. They did not trust each other too much to store looted goods in a common cauldron, and even in such a place as an uninhabited island. No pirate ever went ashore, not having his share of the prey.

Earrings, bandanas – the attributes of these pirates.

Real pirates never wore earrings (because of which it was possible to get confused in tackles) and bandanas – they were first put on by American robbers in their drawings by American artist Howard Pile, who lived at the end of the 19th century and did not see a single live pirate .

Pirates loved to sing the song “Fifteen people on the chest of the dead.”

Mention of this legendary song, followed by the recognizable “yo-ho-ho,” was first encountered all at the same Stevenson in “Treasure Island”: “Fifteen people on the dead man’s chest, Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum! Drink, and The devil will bring you to the end. “Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!”. Recently, even a more complete version of this song appeared, which, it turns out, is called “Admiral Benbow” and consists of as many as 7 verses. However, this option has nothing to do with Stevenson – this is the work of his readers. Moreover, the text of this song does not occur in any collection of sea songs, nor in any historical document that illuminates the life of pirates. So this verse is pirated, only with reference to one work – “Treasure Island”. The researchers even found the roots of this song. It turns out that it belongs to Yang Ellisson, and the verse was called “Abandoned” and was published in 1891 after the publication of the work of Stevenson. In the Russian version of the translator, Pozdnyakov is not even a translation, but a free exposition. The original, for example, is several times larger. Interestingly, the fact that the publication of the poem after the appearance of the “Treasure Island” may indicate that Allison just picked up a popular motif and wrote a poem based on it. The very story, described in the verse, tells how on a piece of land of 200 m2, so small that it was nicknamed “Dead Man’s Chest”, the pirates landed 15 of their comrades in the rebellion. Instead of water, they were given rum, which only increases thirst. But instead of a quick death, the pirates lived on the island under the scorching sun for a month and were picked up by their brethren and forgiven. Beautiful story, but not entirely truthful. First, the island Dead Man’s Chest really exists and is located off the island of Tortola, on the Virgin Islands. But its dimensions are much larger – only in length it stretches more than a kilometer.Secondly, in the biography of the famous corsair of Blackbeard, there is a legend about seventeen pirates that were planted on an uninhabited island off the coast of North America a thousand miles from the Deadman’s Chest. By the way, unlucky pirates saved a couple of days, Captain Bonnet. Thus, Stevenson came up with a piece of the song, based on a legend and a beautiful name. And then the myth grew into new details thanks to the “researchers”.

There was a parrot on pirate ships.

Parrots on pirate ships also did not work: even if to some sailor it would have occurred to get this bird, it would be eaten immediately, as soon as there was a shortage of food!

Pirates with a damaged eye covered it with a black bandage.

There is no historical evidence for this.

English captain Francis Drake is often called the most famous pirate in history.

However, this is not fair. Drake was not a pirate, he was a privateer. The difference between pirates and privateers was that the former were ordinary criminals, that is, acted at their own peril and risk, robbed any ships and took all the prey to themselves. The latter were in the civil service, they attacked only enemy ships and gave 10 percent of the booty to the treasury.


All pirates raised on their ships a black flag with a skull over crossed bones (“Jolly Roger”).

First of all, note that the pirates did not have a unified flag: each captain wanted to have his own banner. And they were very diverse, both in drawing and in colors. For example, John Cook was attacking under the yellow-red flag. Bartholomew Sharpe picked up a red pennant with colored ribbons. The Montbard destroyer kept a black flag with crossed bones and card aces, but he considered the best flag of a pirate ship to be a jack-uped corpse of the skipper of the last looted sailboat. Many captains used a black flag on which skulls and bones were depicted, but none of these pirate flags were known to us today: either the skull was drawn in profile, or the bones were not placed under, but behind the skull, or the banner itself was triangular. “Merry Roger” in the form in which we know it today, was invented by Hollywood designers already in the twentieth century.

All films about pirates show at least one duel.

But the swords appeared only at the end of the first decade of the XVII century, and widely spread even later. The era of piracy by this time is almost over, and all the famous captains, about which movies are being filmed, have long lay in graves or on the ocean floor … The real weapon of pirates was a boarding sword – with a short wide curved blade and one chopping edge. It was ideally suited to the cramped conditions that existed on board the ship. By the way, with a sword in such a situation it is more difficult to order.

Pirate ships participated in artillery duels.

Pictures of movies and texts of adventure novels and draw pictures when a ship of pirates, pursuing its victim, fires on it for a long time from all the guns, and then, as close as possible, takes it to boarding. Actually this is not true. Firearms are only a few centuries old, but piracy dates back thousands of years. The first primitive artillery, which existed many centuries ago, was quite primitive. The exception is “Greek fire”, but there was no sense in its application, because it burned enemy ships completely. The first artillery samples used at sea were also not very effective and did not have a significant effect on the outcome of the battle. The first guns were very capricious, suffered from a lack of precision, their recharging could take even a few hours. Therefore, the tools were used only as preparation for boarding. Approaching the victim, the pirate ship gave a volley from a short distance, no one thought about recharging the guns-the crew was boarding.It should be noted that it was the use of boarding was the main tactic of pirates, as their goal was to capture the ship as much as possible, with an intact cargo. Yes, and the regular fleet also adhered to this tactic – who will abandon the whole enemy ship? It was not until the beginning of the 17th century that artillery began to be used for cannon dueling and sea battles in the current understanding. There were also ships equipped with a large number of guns. Strictly speaking, this also testified to their low efficiency – they were taken by quantity, not quality, suggesting that out of a few dozen of cores, someone would hit the target. Pirates also used small-caliber artillery, firing on sails and rigging, and also producing a volley of shot immediately before boarding. Sometimes, in the use of corsairs were nasal cannons, from which they burned on the escaping victim in the hope of getting into the steering wheel, depriving the ship of maneuverability. And often battles generally took place without cannon firing. And when describing a pirate court, it was usually indicated the number of people, not guns. The ships were practically deprived of them, so a modern person might not understand how to pirate with 3-4 guns on board. By the way, the lack of heavy guns only added maneuverability and speed to the corsairs. So the naval artillery actually played only an auxiliary role for pirates, pirates preferred to use a ram first, and later boarding.

Women on board bring misfortune.

In fact, pirates often took them with them as prostitutes and mistresses. Even female pirate women are known. One of the marine archives found information about a former prostitute, who two centuries ago managed to lead an entire pirate fleet.

Pirates often cursed the phrase “Rush me thunder.”

In fact, the English expression in the original sounds like “Shiver my timbers”. Until the end of the 19th century, this phrase was not found anywhere and was not mentioned. And it means a strong surprise or an expression of distrust. It is believed that so could sail sailors when the ship struck the underwater reef, as a result of which the ship began to vibrate (“shiver”). In literature, the phrase first met in the novel “Treasure Island” by Stevenson, later the colorful curse moved to other novels and films. But there is no evidence of the use of this phrase by real pirates.

There was a pirate Coastal Brotherhood.

Many films and books mention the centralized organization of pirates. It would seem that thanks to the Brotherhood, the corsairs could accumulate their forces, organize large armies. The Brotherhood was governed by its own laws, based on its own representation by pirates of honor. However, no organization of pirates in the Caribbean has ever existed, there is no evidence of this. Where did this myth come from? For the first time, French historian Charlevoix mentioned the coastal brothers: “pirates fraudulently deprived the coastal brothers – colonists who did not engage in robbery and joined us only in this raid.” It can be seen from the text that the settlers come from the coastal brothers to the pirates, as they themselves came out in their time from their midst. In the early 19th century, the works of Charlevoix were misinterpreted, and so went the myth of the legendary freedom-loving Coastal Brotherhood, which in fact was not.

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