thoughts on piracy
The Heiromum asked me to explain my fascination with pirates on Saturday. She said she just didn’t understand it and since sometimes the best way for me to explain things by writing them down, I thought I’d let my phalanges do the explaining.
I have had an interest in pirates and highwaymen since I was very small. All I ever wanted to be on Halloween was either a pirate or a witch. There were many battles over this such as when I was 4 and 5 and had to be Bo Peep. I am sooooo not Bo Peep. It was pink, yellow and blue satin, EWWWWWWW!
I don’t know whether it was early exposure to Disney’s various Sunday night pirate movies and my particular favourite “Dr. Syn or The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh” as it was called in the 60’s. Now its just Dr Syn.
But I’ve done a lot of research since then and it has only made the attraction stronger.
What’s not to like about the image of a strong woman such as Granauille O’ Malley? Even Queen Elizabeth couldn’t make her stop and she surely tried. According to anecdotal evidence during the Golden Age of Piracy there was a French woman captain no one ever learned the name of since she never went into Port Royale but sent her crew instead. She was seen but never caught. Cheng I Sao who commanded her husband’s crews after he was killed. And of course the most famous in the Americas because they got caught Mary Read and Anne Bonny. I’m sure there were others.
I don’t think I’d be very happy killing someone but often people were only killed if they fought back unless the “No Quarter Given” flag was being flown.
People became pirates for many reasons but the main reason many did was not wealth. That was usually gone quickly. It was freedom. Pirate ships were democracies and if a captain did not listen to his crew he was removed. All booty was shared according to rank earned in the ship. The British Navy of the time was where most of them had come from. Dragged by force from their homes under conscription and impressed into the Navy. A life where they had no say and no rank, bad food and often, regular beatings. Where the chance of dying of infection or having something amputated was as high as the likelihood of losing their life. The choice of becoming a pirate was easy for many.
There is evidence that the first European pirates were the Knights Templar who disappeared with their treasure before King Philippe could get them and left Jacque De Molay to martyr himself to the King. Since the skull and crossed bones was the Knights Templar maritime flag that makes a bit of sense because the ships that were being attacked belonged to the Vatican and France.
I do know that when I was asked to write my biography for my short-lived spate with the pirate guild was an eerie experience. I had goosebumps the whole time because it was more like I was remembering it than creating it. And I know that when I presented it to the rest of the guild that was the way they took it also.
So this fascination came way before Pirates of the Caribbean, the movie. Ask Alison sometime about the pirate that scared her in the bedroom when she was about 6. She was mad at me for a long time for that.
When I put on that set of clothes for Faire and the sword and the pistol, they are not a costume and they never have been, that is a side of me walking around in my clothes, never an outfit or costume. I know how to walk, how to move, how to speak, how to act.
I don’t know if it’s a past life thing but it surely feels right.