montage

Piracy

Introduction

Practical Seamanship
War At Sea
Nautical Hardships
Piracy
Nautical Fiction

Bibliography & Credits

Alexandre Olivier Exquemelin. Bucaniers of America, or, A True Account of the Most Remarkable Assaults Committed of Late Years upon the Coasts of the West-Indies. London: for W. Crooke, 1684-5.

Alexandre Exquemelin spent twelve years among pirates serving as a surgeon, and this work is considered the most important early history of piracy. Originally published in Dutch in 1678, it was soon translated into a number of languages and reached a public that was hungry for stories of pirates and privateers. The distinction between the two classes is often imprecise, but essentially privateers acted during times of war under the recognition of a national government (which granted "letters of marque" authorizing their holders to capture ships of hostile nations) but outside the confines of an established navy.

Although piracy has attained a veneer of romanticism, Exquemelin makes no effort to conceal the frequent barbarities he witnessed among the pirates. The pages exhibited here depict the pirate Francis L'Ollonais, whom one author has described as "so utterly base that it would be impossible for anyone to look upon him as a hero". In the illustration to the left, L'Ollonais is depicted removing the heart of an enemy and feeding it to another. (This is in some disagreement with the text, which describes L'Ollonais himself chewing on the heart "like a ravenous Wolf".)

Josiah Woodward. The Seaman's Monitor: or, Advice to Sea-faring Men...to Which Is Now Added, A Seasonable Admonition against Mutiny and Piracy. London: J. Downing, 1723.

Josiah Woodward was a member of the Anglican clergy who sought to reform the manners and customs of various groups of English society, largely through tracts published under the auspices of the Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge. His Seaman's Monitor was quite popular, with 14 editions in print between 1705 and 1799.

Abraham Anselm. A Faithful Narrative of the Capture of the Ship Derby . . . by Angria the Pirate. London: S. Osborn, 1738.

The Derby, a ship belonging to the East India Company, was captured off the Coast of Malabar (off south-west India) in 1735. The present work is a collection of letters and affidavits outlining the course of the attack on the Derby and the imprisonment of her crew by the pirate Angria, who led a powerful group of pirates in the area. The passage on display here reprints a letter from the ship's purser to friends in London, in which he describes Angria's rough treatment of the English prisoners.


Next: Nautical Fiction