The Pirates of Nassau

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The Pirates of Nassau

Marat Potapov, Reporter

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The Island of Nassau

Many people know or have heard about pirates or privateers. Most information known about pirates, by ordinary people, comes from movies or T.V shows. But believe it or not, the real thing it way more gruesome and is a very appealing story without any supernatural or mythical beings.

The Golden Age of Piracy lasted for thirty years from 1690 to 1720, and Nassau was at its heart. Piracy in the Bahamas of the New World, truly started in 1696 when the privateer Henry Every, and his ship the Fancy, arrived loaded with loot from plundering Indian Empire trade ships. Every bribed the Governor of The Bahamas, Nicholas Trott, with gold, silver and with the Fancy itself- which was  loaded with 50 tons of elephant tusks and 100 barrels of gunpowder. This bribe established Nassau as a base of operations where pirates could sell their stolen cargo and operate safely, although various other governors tried suppressing piracy. The pirates established control of the island because of the fact that England controlled the island, until the Spanish fleet attacked Nassau in 1703 and 1706. This left the island abandoned by most of its settlers and without any English government. Nassau was then taken over by English privateers who became completely lawless pirates over time. From their newly acquired harbor of Nassau, they could employ hit and run tactics to full effect. They looted and ambushed merchant ships on the trade routes that were spread throughout all of the West Indies, just a short sail away.

The Republic Of Pirates

The pirates essentially established their own “Republic” with its own “governors” and their looted cargo (mostly was traded for gold & silver) forming the basis of a thriving community that attracted rogues, merchants and wild women from all around the world. The island meant so much to the pirates that it was said that when pirates slept, they did not dream of going to heaven but instead of returning to their favorite port of Nassau, on New Providence Island.

Pirates Vs Privateers

There isn’t that much of a difference between a privateer and pirate. People get them mixed up and occasionally think they mean the same thing. But actually its rather simple- pirates rob illegally while privateers are legally permitted to loot and plunder as much as they please. Privateers have limitations though, they can only plunder ships of opposing countries For example, if you were a privateer of England you could only raid Spanish ships. Also becoming a privateer was serious work. You had to get permission either from a governor or king, but even then you wouldn’t be free.  But a pirate has no limitations. They are free to pillage whomever they may please, and freedom was one of the main reasons people wanted to become pirates. They believe that the law held them back, and they wanted to be free to do as they wished.

The Pirate Leaders

Many of you probably are interested in all the famous and most feared and gruesome pirates. Throughout the history of New Providence Island there have been a few “generations” of pirates. It started off with the two famous pirates who were bitter rivals Benjamin Hornigold and Henry Jennings. Hornigold was a “mentor” to pirates such as the infamous Edward Teach, known as “Blackbeard”, along with Sam Bellamy and Stede Bonnet. Jennings was mentor to Charles Vane, “Calico” Jack Rackham, Anne Bonny, and Mary Read. There were also pirates by the name of Samuel Bellamy, Edward Low, Sir Henry Morgan, Bartholomew Roberts, and William Kidd. All of them played a part in the pirate republic of Nassau, as well as the spread of piracy in the New World.

Pirate Flags, also known as a Jolly Rogers, where the main source of the fear put into the sailors, who were raided by pirates. Which meant it had to symbolize pure fright, which is why skeletons or death are shown on the flags. Pirates of this time period didn’t actually have a specific flag. Only the ones that where the most feared had ones that where recognizable enough to record.

Pirates Today

Many believe that pirates no longer exist, but that is a lie. Pirates still exist today. They still raid and steal ships, but none are as good as the original buccaneers of the West Indies.

Pirates in Pop Culture

Today pirates are shown in many aspects of pop culture- movies, TV shows, video games, and books. Hollywood wise they’re most famous appearance in this century is in Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise, which is finally coming back with the original cast for another movie, which fans are very excited for. As far as TV shows are concerned, pirates usually make small appearances, but in 2014 the show Black Sails began which showed a real life depiction of the republic of Nassau. Its pirates have been extremely popular until its final season this year.

The game Assassins Creed 4 Black Flag, also from 2014, offers a version of the Pirates of Nassau and has been highly appreciated for its graphics and historical accuracy. Even though it’s not close to 100% accurate. It’s still worth checking out. To this day the game has been regarded as one of the best games Ubisoft has ever produced. Pirates have, and always will be, the most entertaining and appealing parts of history- even if they started off more than 300 years ago.

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