Raiders and Rebels: A History of the Golden Age of Piracy

Raiders and Rebels: A History of the Golden Age of Piracy

Frank Sherry

Language: English

Pages: 322

ISBN: 0061572845

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


I he most authoritative history of piracy, Frank Sherry's rich and colorful account reveals the rise and fall of the real "raiders and rebels" who terrorized the seas. From 1692 to 1725 pirates sailed the oceans of the world, plundering ships laden with the riches of India, Africa, South America, and the Caribbean. Often portrayed as larger-than-life characters, these outlaw figures and their bloodthirsty exploits have long been immortalized in fiction and film. But beneath the legends is the true story of these brigands—often common men and women escaping the social and economic restrictions of 18th-century Europe and America. Their activities threatened the beginnings of world trade and jeopardized the security of empires. And together, the author argues, they fashioned a surprisingly democratic society powerful enough to defy the world.

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crowd ever to witness such an execution was estimated at 200,000. Samuel Pepys—always a marvellous witness—gives the flavor of one such celebrated event in his diary: “Went out to Charing Cross to see Major-General Harrison hanged, drawn, and quartered, which was done there, he looking as cheerfully as any man could do in that condition. He was presently cut down and his head and heart shown to the people at which there were great shouts of joy.” Treason was not, by any means, the only capital

itself to arrest and try pirates in special courts, rather than going through the long and expensive process of remanding captured pirates to London for trial. The request was denied without comment. The company also beseeched London for help from the Royal Navy, even though company officials knew very well that London was not likely to provide such help since the war with France was still absorbing all the Royal Navy’s energies. As expected, this request, too, was turned down. Company

actions. In fact, the fleet commander, Thomas Hewson, had later said of Kidd: “He was with me in two engagements against the French, and fought as well as any man I ever saw, according to the proportion of his men.” (Perhaps it was this experience with the professional fleet in the West Indies, plus Hewson’s praise, that had convinced Kidd that for all his lack of schooling and background, he did possess sufficient natural merit to realize his dream of a Royal Navy command.) After action with

the continent, slowly—almost reluctantly—making for the Cape of Good Hope. Now that the reality of the voyage was upon him, there must have been many times when Kidd confronted the chill secret knowledge that he carried deep within himself: His mission, so lightly agreed to in London, could not possibly succeed. But he must have just as often submerged that awful realization again, persuading himself that, somehow, he would find a way to bring it off. If his commission was a burden, it was also

stand because of his torn-up heel, Rogers nevertheless continued to conduct the battle. Seated, with his foot propped up on a cushion, Rogers used hand signals to give his orders. In the end, the Begonia beat off her attackers and escaped. In his journal Rogers estimated that during the battle Duke and Duchess had struck the Spanish ship with approximately five hundred rounds of solid shot without doing more than superficial damage. Typically, Rogers did not blame his subordinate officers for

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