Throughout history pirates have terrorized the world's seas. There are few men that have been feared as much as pirates were. Names such as pirate, buccaneer, and privateer were given to these men and women that terrorized the seas. Black Sam Bellamy, Bartholomew Roberts, Jean Lafitte, Stede Bonnet, and Ann Bonny are some of the most feared names know to man. These were the names of pirates that dominated the seas during the 1600's and 1700's, a time known as the "Golden Age of Piracy." However, one of the greatest pirates of all time was the great Edward Teach, alias Blackbeard. He terrorized the seas for most of his gruesome life during this era. The "Golden Age of Piracy" marked a time when sea travel was unsafe for everyone, with Blackbeard being one of the lead factors.
The history of piracy dates back more than 3000 years. "It appears that the word pirate (peirato) was first used in about 140 BC by the Roman historian Polybius. The Greek historian Plutarch, writing in about 100 A.D., gave the oldest clear definition of piracy. He described pirates as those who attack without legal authority not only ships, but also maritime cities (http://www.piratesinfo.com/history/history.php)." The most common meaning of the word pirate recognizes them as an outlaw and a thief. Anyone who was caught and tried with the act of piracy would be sentenced to death.
Most people are familiar with the words pirate, privateer, and buccaneer. These words are all names given to groups of pirates. They were all essentially the same thing, with slight differences. In one case, however, you could be considered a legal pirate. These men were called privateers. "A privateer was a pirate who by commission or letter of marque from the government was authorized to seize or destroy a merchant vessel of another nation (http://www.piratesinfo.com/fact/famous.html)." Many kings hired privateers to help weaken their enemies. Privateers would sail the seas and loot and pillage ships in the name of their country. They tended to stay as far from the coast as possible to avoid any navy that might be about. Privateers with a letter of marque were considered legal by international law and they were not supposed to be charged with the act of piracy. However, more often that not, if the enemy managed to seize a privateer, they would often charge them with piracy and have them killed. Two perfect examples of privateers are Sir Francis Drake and Henry Morgan. Both men were so successful that they eventually received knighthood from the crown.
Another famous group of pirates were the Buccaneers. "Buccaneers were initially hunter's of cattle and pigs on the island of what is now known as Haiti and the Dominican Republic (http://www.piratesinfo.com/fact/famous.html)." The buccaneer's main source of food was the pigs found on the islands. They got their name from the French word "boucan" which meant barbecue. Often at times, these men were seen barbequing the pig meat on grills. They learned this style of cooking from the Arawak Indians. The buccaneers were men driven out by the Spanish, runaway slaves, deserters, and others who just hated the Spanish. "The word buccaneer soon became common, and by the 17th century was used to describe pirates and privateers who had bases in the West Indies (http://www.piratesinfo.com/fact/famous.html)." From the late 1600's to the early 1700's, the Bahamas was a haven for pirates and government-sanctioned privateers. They preyed on Spanish galleons laden with gold from the New World, and left behind tales of ruin, revelry, and buried treasure. This was the time knows as the "Golden Age of Piracy". It was during this time that America was still in its beginnings and colonial times. There was no navy anywhere near America, who was still under British rule, at the time. The Caribbean Sea was too far away for Britain to send its navy. Because of this, ships had to sail on their own behalf...
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