Definition of Piracy
Piracy is typically an act of robbery or criminal violence at sea. The term can include acts committed on land, in the air, or in other major bodies of water or on a shore. It does not normally include crimes committed against persons traveling on the same vessel as the perpetrator (e.g. one passenger stealing from others on the same vessel). The term has been used throughout history to refer to raids across land borders by non-state agents. Piracy or pirating is the name of a specific crime under customary international law and also the name of a number of crimes under the municipal law of a number of States. It is distinguished from privateering, which is authorized by national authorities and therefore a legitimate form of war-like activity by non-state actors. Privateering is considered commerce raiding, and was outlawed by the Peace of Westphalia (1648) for signatories to those treaties. Those who engage in acts of piracy are called pirates. Historically, offenders have usually been apprehended by military personnel and tried by military tribunals. Background of piracy
The roots of the word ‘piracy’ come from the ancient greek word ‘peiraomais’, meaning ‘attempt’. In the sense of an attempt to rob for brigand and then to the Latin ‘pirata’, where we get the modern English word ‘pirate’. In essence,it’s an act of robbery, committed on the high seas, flourishing in waters where law and order is absent and policing ineffective. Piracy has existed since sea travel became possible.Initially, oars were used to power galleys during the Greek and Roman eras. Fast-sailing ships operated during the infamous ‘Golden Age of Piracy’ in the 18th century. Today speedboats and automatic rifles characterize the modern pirate preying on supertankers, container ships and leisure craft. The first recorded pirates were the ‘Lukka’, a group of sea raiders who based themselves on the Mediterranean shores of Lycia in Asia Minor, now Turkey, in the 14th century BC. They led regular attacks on Ancient Egypt. Pirates operating from their base in Crete were increasingly ravaging Greek city states by the end of the 10th century BC. Until it was suppressed around 75BC piracy was ever-present in the Mediterranean during the early years of the Roman Empire. Julius Caesar was briefly captured by Cilician pirates sailing from Southern Turkey. However, it soon began to flourish again in Aegean and Adriatic waters after the collapse of the Roman Empire in the 5th century AD. Piracy then ebbed and flowed in line with the rise and fall of the Byzantine empire. Medieval and Elizabethan Piracy
European sea trade began to flourish spectacularly from the 11th century and acts of piracy became more ever more complex in operation. Norse and Vikings raiders, Baltic pirates and Barbary Corsairs wreaked havoc in and around Northern European and Mediterranean waters. By the early 16th century Spain had created a vast empire in the Americas gaining access to huge deposits of gold and silver. The Spanish treasure fleets became a magnet for pirates, notably English, French and Dutch, with little distinction between so-called privateers acting legitimately as enemy ships in times of war and those engaged in naked acts of piracy. By the middle of the 16th century England regarded piracy virtually as a state policy in its desire to plunder Spain’s empire. The “Golden Age of Piracy”
The “Golden Age of Piracy” is generally accepted to have spanned the period from the second half of the 17th century to the early part of the 18th century. From the 1650s mainly French and English buccaneers, operating from bases such as Jamaica and Tortuga, attacked Spanish shipping and colonies. These attacks, on the ‘Spanish Main’, took place in the Caribbean and the Eastern Pacific. Arguably the most successful of these pirates was Henry Morgan who, having ravaged the region for over a decade, was knighted,...
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