Who Were Pirates?
Pirates have been part of world history since before the written word. A pirate is little more a high-seas robber despite the romance connected to them through stories like Treasure Island and whimsical movies.
In reality pirates were more than simply robbers. They were cut throat. They murdered, plundered and tortured their victims, whether they were merchantmen plying the seas or unfortunate fishing villages along the South China Sea.
We don’t know how many pirates existed at any given time, but they range from 50,000 or more in the South China Sea under the leadership of Chinese pirate Cheng I at the turn of the 19th century to 5,000 or 6,000 marauding the Caribbean Sea in the 18th century without any central direction or coordination.
Pirates aren’t just folklore. Most of the legends and myths are grounded in real people, although the real events may have been exaggerated by storytelling.
Click on the names below to read more about some of our favorite pirates:
First things first...were there really women pirates?
Some of the best references on pirates we found are: