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Forum LockedWhy did people become pirates?

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Post Options Post Options   Quote Seko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Why did people become pirates?
    Posted: 16-Apr-2009 at 17:45
Originally posted by pinguin

Pirates has existed always, since the first man ride a trunk.
With respect to the particular period between 1600-1720, things started a bit earlier. First, the muslims pirates in the Mediterranean were quite common, particularly comming from the Maghreb. And second, when Queen Elizabeth I blessed piracy and protected the "audacious" assaults of pirates such as Drake, she gave green light for piracy to become a lifestyle.
 
 
 
Hell Pinguin, you hit the nail on the head. Meditterranean piracy is as old as rowing oars.
Odysseus, Jason and the Argonauts, Illyrians, Vikings, Templars, Knights of St. John (Rhodes and Malta), the cool Barbarossa brothers and Turgut Reis all had their play.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote eaglecap Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16-Apr-2009 at 18:38
The Barbary campaigns were a failure, only a joint Anglo-Dutch force in 1815 ended once and for all Piracy in the Mediterrainean.

Al- I agree that many Europeans were involved in piracy and in this I agree with you. Evil has no bounds and piracy is old and was common in ancient Greece on into the Roman period. As long as man has sailed the seas we have had piracy. Like I said there are as many reasons why people do this as there are people.

Was the Barbary campaign a failure?
Apparently you have read nothing about this or only biased sources. I have read several books and it did put an end to piracy on at least American merchants and only in 1815 did we have to return to bring across our point again. I think Teddy Roosevelt sums it ups, "speak softly but carry a big stick." The environment of Somalia piracy might not be the same but I am sure their justification was the same. As soon as I can find it I will post what their delegates said to our Ambassador.

I am not sure why the English were ivolved but their King/Queen sure used them against their enemies; mainly Spain. A lot of rich gold/silver shipments from the New world stolen from the Aztecs, Incans etc.

The Spanish Armada- besides being a Holy War by Roman Catholics church of Spain on English Protestants was the Spanish Armada also about English piracy? I read a book about the Spanish Armada by Will Durant but that was a few years ago.

Edited by eaglecap - 16-Apr-2009 at 18:44
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Post Options Post Options   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16-Apr-2009 at 19:22
Originally posted by pikeshot1600

Graham,
 
In the years 1585 to 1604, England and Spain never declared war on one another. 
Depends what you take as a declaration of war. On August 14 1585 Elizabeth formally declared that the Netherlands were now under her protection, and no longer a Spanish possession. In support of that declaration she sent troops to the Netherlands to fight the Spaniards. And of course Philip sent the Armada in reply.
 
If that isn't a declaration of war I'm not sure what would be. Did Germany and the Soviet Union ever declare war on one another? Hitler didn't - if you read carefully his statement justifying the invasion of June 1941 you'll note that he never formally declares war.
( http://www.ibiblio.org/pha/policy/1941/410622a.html ) Not that it matters - a state of war can exist without a declaration, and frequently has.
 
PS If there was no war, how come they negotiated a peace treaty?
There may have been "letters" of some sort held by Drake and Hatton and others, but the essentials of privateering then were, first, that the Queen couldn't afford enough navy to attack Spanish interests in the Atlantic and elsewhere, and second, it afforded important employment (and profit) for....Drake and Hatton and others.  Big smile
Prior to the 16th century (and even in it) countries didn't have standing navies. They recruited private ships who were rewarded with any prizes they took just as the crews of the King's own ships were. There was never any great jump from a wholly private navy to a wholly national one, but right up till the 19th century the principle that crews of ships, private or national, were entitled to the profits of any prizes they took remained constant (though I believe the French navy after the Revolution abansoned the practice in the national navy).
 
It seems to me therefore you should be complaining more about the institution of prize money than about privateering, since the distinction is tiny, and mostly a matter of whether the ship was under Admiralty command or not.
 
I really don't see how it matters whether the fleets involved in the Caribbean expedition of 1595 or the taking of Cadiz in 1596 consisted of the Queen's ships or privately-owned ones, or both at once. Either way the spoils ended up in the same place. 
 
The "grand strategy" of England's assault on Spain's Atlantic possessions was really not that successful, but one assumes the Queen made enough out of her shares to keep it going. 
Depends what you mean by successful. Elizabeth certainly did better out of it than Philip did, and her subjects did even better. The Netherlands ended up doing well out of it too.
I read an interesting essay on the development of 17th c. Dutch seapower, and it's origin was in privateering on a very large scale.  IIRC, the major expenditures were always on the army and on fortifications, but commercial interests financed seaborne warfare for profit (including the Nassauer and the merchant oligharchy).  I don't remember where I read it, but I could check it out.
It's not always easy to separate out privateering from trading in a situation where trading vessels are always armed.  You'll find all the major sea powers (including the Spanish, especially the Basques) did well from privateering.
 
With regard to the Dutch, Piet Hein, a legndary but real figure like the French Duguay Trouing, arrived in Falmouth in 1625 with the Dutch West India Company's fleet and the spoils of an entire Spanish silver fleet.
Of course "lettres de marque" developed as legitimate mechanisms, but with or without them, the late 17th/early 18th centuries saw the establishment of piracy, in no small measure, as an outgrowth of the wars among the maritime powers.  A lot of them would not give it up when the princes and wigged diplomats made peace.
Some truth in that. However, ironically, it was the growth of national navies that resulted from the same wars that eventually saw the death of piracy (for a while Unhappy )


Edited by gcle2003 - 16-Apr-2009 at 19:30
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Post Options Post Options   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16-Apr-2009 at 19:30

Also, it may be interesting to note that one of the main activities of pirates, besides asaulting merchant ships, it was the slave trade.

Drake, for instance, was a slave trader and his queen was one of the main partners in his flourishing business.

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Post Options Post Options   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16-Apr-2009 at 19:48
Originally posted by eaglecap

Was the Barbary campaign a failure?
Apparently you have read nothing about this or only biased sources. I have read several books and it did put an end to piracy on at least American merchants
That's rather the point. It was only the Americans, and it only stopped the Moroccans.
and only in 1815 did we have to return to bring across our point again.
The US wasn't there in 1815: the Battle of Algiers (1816 actually) involved a joint Anglo-Dutch attack on the city. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bombardment_of_Algiers
I think Teddy Roosevelt sums it ups, "speak softly but carry a big stick."
About a hundred years later.
The environment of Somalia piracy might not be the same but I am sure their justification was the same. As soon as I can find it I will post what their delegates said to our Ambassador.

I am not sure why the English were ivolved but their King/Queen sure used them against their enemies; mainly Spain. A lot of rich gold/silver shipments from the New world stolen from the Aztecs, Incans etc.
English, French, Spanish, Danish, Scottish, Moroccan...whatever if they were being used by the King or Queen they weren't pirates. If you didn't have a monarch, like the US and the Dutch, then the appropriate body served.
 
Privateering was legitimate, not piracy.

The Spanish Armada- besides being a Holy War by Roman Catholics church of Spain on English Protestants was the Spanish Armada also about English piracy?
Not officially. It was a response to English help for the rebellious Netherlands. Otherwise they might as well have attacked the Scots, the French and almost anyone else with ships in the Atlantic.
Moreover much piracy was multinational.
 I read a book about the Spanish Armada by Will Durant but that was a few years ago.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16-Apr-2009 at 19:56
Originally posted by pinguin

Also, it may be interesting to note that one of the main activities of pirates, besides asaulting merchant ships, it was the slave trade.

Drake, for instance, was a slave trader and his queen was one of the main partners in his flourishing business.

 
I'd like to see your evidence involving Drake personally or the Queen. However, I grant that Hawkins and many others really got up the noses of the Portuguese by refusing to recognise their monopoly of the slave trade.
 
In fact the very first English ships to reach the Caribbean were carrying slaves to break the Spanish/Portuguese monopoly, but I'd have to look up the details: the elder Hawkins I think, not the Revenge one.
 
Being a slave trader however is not being a pirate, no matter how annoyed you make the local monopolists.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Bulldog Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16-Apr-2009 at 20:25
Gcle
But there is still a vast difference between waging war against your country's enemies and murdering and looting anyone passing by.


Not really, your just murdering and looting anyone passing by with the support of your country when it suits them. If not, state sponsered terrorism can't be called terrorism because a country is supporting it.

Why do people become pirates? for respect, status, power, to make money fast, which most humans aspire towards however, in impovrished societies activities like piracy are sometimes the only way one could ever achieve this. When the alternate is being a farmer who slaves in the land owners field just to get some shelter and food (forget a salary), actually in some of these places even that would be a luxury, so its hard not to see the attraction even with all the downsides of piracy.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16-Apr-2009 at 20:39
In fact, my country -Chile- still don't forgive the attacks on civilians, subjects of the Spanish Empire, that commited pirats like Drake ... What is not very well known, though, is that in the Pacific, pirates were a lot less lucky than in the Caribbean. Many ended theirs lives swinging in the wind, hunging from the gallows pole.

Edited by pinguin - 16-Apr-2009 at 20:40
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Post Options Post Options   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16-Apr-2009 at 20:43
Originally posted by Bulldog

Gcle
But there is still a vast difference between waging war against your country's enemies and murdering and looting anyone passing by.


Not really, your just murdering and looting anyone passing by with the support of your country when it suits them. If not, state sponsered terrorism can't be called terrorism because a country is supporting it.
Terrorism is objectively definable, like killing. It can certainly be state sponsored. The question would be is it ever justified, not whether it can be state-sponsored or not, since state sponsorship isn't a justification of anything.
 
Waging war against your country's enemies is not murdering and looting anyone who passes by, since 'enemy' doesn't mean ''anyone who is passing by'. Moreover killing enemies in wartime isn't reckoned murder in anyone's lawbooks, and expropriating enemy property isn't theft. Were the Pirelli factories in Britain 'stolen' when they were taken over by the British government in 1940? Were rthe British soldiers who fought back against the Germans advancing on Dunkirk 'murdering' them? For that matter, were the Germans 'murdering' the British?
 
I have trouble understanding how anyone can come up with the sentence you just wrote.

Why do people become pirates? for respect, status, power, to make money fast, which most humans aspire towards however, in impovrished societies activities like piracy are sometimes the only way one could ever achieve this. When the alternate is being a farmer who slaves in the land owners field just to get some shelter and food (forget a salary), actually in some of these places even that would be a luxury, so its hard not to see the attraction even with all the downsides of piracy.
Most piracy was financed by the landowners (or their equivalent capitalists), who also took most of the profits. Same is true nowaday of the backers of the Somali pirates, just as it was of the Barbary ones.
 
I don't know where the idea comes from that most, let alone all, pirates were refugees from poverty.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16-Apr-2009 at 20:46
However, Pirate attacks of old England were carried in times of war and peace.
Why don't we simply recognize Britain started its day as a cave of thieves, similar to Ali Baba and the 40 thieves, only than sailing in the ocean rather than driving camels.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Bulldog Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16-Apr-2009 at 21:18
Gcle
Terrorism is objectively definable, like killing. It can certainly be state sponsored. The question would be is it ever justified, not whether it can be state-sponsored or not, since state sponsorship isn't a justification of anything.


Isn't piracy a form of terrorism?

Gcle 
Waging war against your country's enemies is not murdering and looting anyone who passes by, since 'enemy' doesn't mean ''anyone who is passing by'. Moreover killing enemies in wartime isn't reckoned murder in anyone's lawbooks, and expropriating enemy property isn't theft. Were the Pirelli factories in Britain 'stolen' when they were taken over by the British government in 1940? Were rthe British soldiers who fought back against the Germans advancing on Dunkirk 'murdering' them? For that matter, were the Germans 'murdering' the British?


Were not talking about soldiers, armies or other part of the state. Pirates were used when needed and given the blind eye when they were not.
 
Gcle
I have trouble understanding how anyone can come up with the sentence you just wrote.


A country sponsering terrorists does so to cause terror and unstability in their enemies, a country sponering pirates has the same objective.


Gcle
Most piracy was financed by the landowners (or their equivalent capitalists), who also took most of the profits. Same is true nowaday of the backers of the Somali pirates, just as it was of the Barbary ones.
 
I don't know where the idea comes from that most, let alone all, pirates were refugees from poverty.


The top dogs in business obviously are wealthy but your average pirate is ofcourse a refugee from poverty. Your average Somali pirate is not a university graduate, city dweller with alot going for them in life.


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Post Options Post Options   Quote Bulldog Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16-Apr-2009 at 21:20
Pinguin
Why don't we simply recognize Britain started its day as a cave of thieves, similar to Ali Baba and the 40 thieves, only than sailing in the ocean rather than driving camels.


Everyone had their pirates, some more sucessful and famous than others, the Spanish had their pirates aswell.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16-Apr-2009 at 21:34

Do you mean Catalans? Like Columbus?

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Post Options Post Options   Quote eaglecap Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17-Apr-2009 at 00:43

The US wasn't there in 1815: the Battle of Algiers (1816 actually) involved a joint Anglo-Dutch attack on the city

Maybe I am wrong but I will find the source on this soon. The source I had mentioned 1815 but I will have to look it up again to get the right context. It is has two years since I have read up on this.


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Post Options Post Options   Quote malizai_ Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17-Apr-2009 at 01:27
Originally posted by Saints11

Quite simply that is what im asking, why did people become pirates? (between1600 and 1720) What drew them to it?
 
What u can not make, take. Those late in exploiting the new world wanted in by any means possible. Most piracy was state sponsored.
 
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Post Options Post Options   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17-Apr-2009 at 01:54
Piracy, slave trade and drug traffic were all state sponsored once.
Some of the most proud empires of history were build upon those principles. 
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Post Options Post Options   Quote ulrich von hutten Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17-Apr-2009 at 07:01
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Post Options Post Options   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17-Apr-2009 at 12:25
Originally posted by pinguin

However, Pirate attacks of old England were carried in times of war and peace.
They were pirates in peacetime and not in wartime. In fact of course Britain was the major player in the suppression of world piracy in the modern world.
 
Don't forget the Spanish also attacked and burnt English villages: they just weren't as good at it.
Why don't we simply recognize Britain started its day as a cave of thieves, similar to Ali Baba and the 40 thieves, only than sailing in the ocean rather than driving camels.
Actually most of the people you're referring to as 'pirates' were hi-jackers since they were taking loot that had been stolen in the first place.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17-Apr-2009 at 12:50
Originally posted by Bulldog

Gcle
Terrorism is objectively definable, like killing. It can certainly be state sponsored. The question would be is it ever justified, not whether it can be state-sponsored or not, since state sponsorship isn't a justification of anything.


Isn't piracy a form of terrorism?
Nope. Piracy is directly aimed at enriching the pirates, that's all. It's armed robbery, only treated differently because it takes place on the high seas, and therefore outside normal jurisdictions.

Gcle 
Waging war against your country's enemies is not murdering and looting anyone who passes by, since 'enemy' doesn't mean ''anyone who is passing by'. Moreover killing enemies in wartime isn't reckoned murder in anyone's lawbooks, and expropriating enemy property isn't theft. Were the Pirelli factories in Britain 'stolen' when they were taken over by the British government in 1940? Were rthe British soldiers who fought back against the Germans advancing on Dunkirk 'murdering' them? For that matter, were the Germans 'murdering' the British?


Were not talking about soldiers, armies or other part of the state. Pirates were used when needed and given the blind eye when they were not.
You write as though a pirate was always a pirate: some kind of separate breed. Mercenaries operating for profit are commonplace in wartime: armies have always looted. I can see a pacifist reckoning all war is bad, but I can't understand why anyone would draw a vital distinction between someone serving for pay and taking what loot he can on the battlefield, whether at sea or on land, and someone who does it for the loot without direct pay. With regard to privateers we aren't even talking about mercenaries who serve a foreign flag, but people fighting for their own country.
Gcle
I have trouble understanding how anyone can come up with the sentence you just wrote.


A country sponsering terrorists does so to cause terror and unstability in their enemies, a country sponering pirates has the same objective.
What country is supposed to have been sponsoriing pirates? Privateers are not pirates. The English hanged pirates whenever they caught them, English or not.
In any case piracy isn't terrorism, as I just poinited out.
 
Too many people here seem to have been spending too much time in Hollywood or Disneyland.

Gcle
Most piracy was financed by the landowners (or their equivalent capitalists), who also took most of the profits. Same is true nowaday of the backers of the Somali pirates, just as it was of the Barbary ones.
 
I don't know where the idea comes from that most, let alone all, pirates were refugees from poverty.


The top dogs in business obviously are wealthy but your average pirate is ofcourse a refugee from poverty. Your average Somali pirate is not a university graduate, city dweller with alot going for them in life.
On that basis your average person is poor, and most people working at anything are refugees from poverty. Most pirates - all probably that actually sailed - were seamen before they took to piracy, which means by the standards of the time they were far from poor.
 
A common seaman in the Royal Navy at the time was getting some 15 shillings a 28-day month (and all found of course: no food or housing to pay for); craftsmen, mates and so on could get up to £2 a month or so. In the merchant service, especially with the East India Company they could make considerably more, as well as profiting from the private trading most of them carried on.
 
Not of course the fortune one might make as a pirate, but also by no means poverty. An average labourer might make as much gross as a common seaman, but he had to pay food and drink and shelter out of it.
 
Anyway the Somali pirates have nothing at all to do with the pirates of the Caribbean. When those big ransoms are paid - who do you think the money sticks to?
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Post Options Post Options   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17-Apr-2009 at 12:53
Originally posted by gcle2003

Actually most of the people you're referring to as 'pirates' were hi-jackers since they were taking loot that had been stolen in the first place.
 
Stolen? From whom?
First, believe or not "Spaniards" had the right to conquer the Americas... they have asked permission from the Pope, and that was enough at a time when the Pope was still the supreme authority of the West.
 
And second, the places where silver came were industrial installations the Spaniards set in the Americas with theirs engineers and that was exploited with workers under the mita regime. The gold of the Americas didn't last a decade. Spaniards had to produce the goods they trade. For instance, they establish in Phillipines to bring chinaware, lacquer and other stuffs, which was added to silver in the shipments to Spain. Spain also send lot of goods to the Americas in return. So it was regular trade already when the pirates started to robb the fleets.
 
In any case, Spaniards didn't distinguish pirates from corsairs and were treated as the same when captured.
 
Pirates attacked several posts in the Americas settled by poor civilians and killed people and raped women. They didn't left a good memory in the Spanish New World. And that was the main reason why Spain tried to stop Britain with the Invincible Armada. Fortunatelly, Spanish spies and British traitors gave a lot of information to the defense systems in the Americas so the damage was smaller than expected.
 
At least, that's the way as I was tought the story.
 


Edited by pinguin - 17-Apr-2009 at 12:58
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