History Community ~ All Empires Homepage


This is the Archive on WORLD Historia, the old original forum.

 You cannot post here - you can only read.

 

Here is the link to the new forum:

  FAQ FAQ  Forum Search   Calendar   Register Register  Login Login


Forum LockedWhy did people become pirates?

 Post Reply Post Reply Page  <123
Author
Reginmund View Drop Down
Arch Duke
Arch Duke
Avatar

Joined: 08-May-2005
Location: Norway
Online Status: Offline
Posts: 1942
Post Options Post Options   Quote Reginmund Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Why did people become pirates?
    Posted: 17-Apr-2009 at 13:28
I wish we could have a strictly historical debate about pirates. "Why did people become pirates?" is a good topic, but questions pertaining to the moral nature of piracy or who was the "worst" pirates belong to the disciplines of philosophy and ethics and not in a historical debate. For a historian what matters is what happened, how it happened and why it happened. I'm not totally averse to cross-disciplinary approaches, such as history in combination with archaeology, philology or linguistics, but I have yet to see a cross-disciplinary work of history and philosophy/ethics.

First someone makes a sweeping generalization which dismisses early modern Britain as nothing more than a pirates' den, then someone points out how what they took was "stolen" in the first place, then it's countered with how they actually had a form of legitimization, and the debate goes on about who did what to whom and whether it happened in peace time or not, and so on and so on. This is not an objective, dispassionate historical debate, it's an emotional and highly subjective debate over moral superiority and therefore completely uninteresting to a historian.
Hwæt! wē Gār-Dena in geār-dagum,
þeod-cyninga, þrym gefrunon,
hu ða æþelingas ellen fremedon.
Back to Top
pinguin View Drop Down
Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff
Avatar

Joined: 29-Sep-2006
Location: Chile
Online Status: Offline
Posts: 7508
Post Options Post Options   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17-Apr-2009 at 13:43
Well, asking why people become pirates is like asking why they become bandits, drug salers or pims. There is just one reason: money. Using violence and forgetting laws to achieve goals has a long history.
"He who attempts to count the stars, not even knowing how to count the knots of the 'quipus'(counting string), ought to be held in derision."

Inca Pachacutec (1438-1471)
Back to Top
Bulldog View Drop Down
Caliph
Caliph
Avatar

Joined: 17-May-2006
Location: United Kingdom
Online Status: Offline
Posts: 2775
Post Options Post Options   Quote Bulldog Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17-Apr-2009 at 14:32
Cos Pirates are cool LOL
      “What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world remains and is immortal.”
Albert Pine

Back to Top
gcle2003 View Drop Down
Immortal Guard
Immortal Guard
Avatar

Joined: 06-Dec-2004
Location: Luxembourg
Online Status: Offline
Posts: 7011
Post Options Post Options   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17-Apr-2009 at 16:13
Originally posted by pinguin

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.
I assume that's a joke.
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.
The Spanish homeland traded with the Spanish colonists, true. Doesn't affect the situation. It is of course true as a matter of detail that silver rather than gold was the main precious metal involved.
 
In any case, Spaniards didn't distinguish pirates from corsairs and were treated as the same when captured.
'Corsair' is a term pirates and privateers and anyway is normally used in the Mediterranean, not the Caribbean.
 
The valid complaint of the English, Scots, French, Dutch, Danes and so on was that the Spanish treated legitimate traders the same way as pirates.
 
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.
No it wasn't. The main reason for the Armada (apart from the religious issues) was connected with the situation in the Netherlands.
 
Tha Spanish took a French colony in Florida and massacred all the inhabitants in 1565. There's a difference?
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 gcle2003 - 17-Apr-2009 at 16:14
Citizen of Ankh-Morpork
Never believe anything until it has been officially denied - Sir Humphrey Appleby, 1984.
Back to Top
pinguin View Drop Down
Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff
Avatar

Joined: 29-Sep-2006
Location: Chile
Online Status: Offline
Posts: 7508
Post Options Post Options   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17-Apr-2009 at 19:09
Originally posted by gcle2003

...Tha Spanish took a French colony in Florida and massacred all the inhabitants in 1565. There's a difference?
 
Document it, please. I didn't know that story.
"He who attempts to count the stars, not even knowing how to count the knots of the 'quipus'(counting string), ought to be held in derision."

Inca Pachacutec (1438-1471)
Back to Top
Styrbiorn View Drop Down
Caliph
Caliph


Joined: 04-Aug-2004
Location: Sweden
Online Status: Offline
Posts: 2818
Post Options Post Options   Quote Styrbiorn Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17-Apr-2009 at 19:46
Originally posted by pinguin

 
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.
 


I'll let the unnamed representative of the native Americans answer that:
The Pope must have been drunk to give away what was not his own, and the King of Spain must have been crazy to ask from him what belonged to others. We are lords of these lands and want no other sovereign, and if this king should come to take possession, we would cut off his head and put it on a pole.

Back to Top
pinguin View Drop Down
Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff
Avatar

Joined: 29-Sep-2006
Location: Chile
Online Status: Offline
Posts: 7508
Post Options Post Options   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17-Apr-2009 at 19:58

Confused

In the European sphere the rights was under the side of the Spaniards. No doubt about it. That's not a contradiction with the fact Spain had become a colonial power taking the lands from the Indians.
 
But, don't tell me the British pirates were the "Robin Hoods" of the Indians. They weren't. Pirates robbed for themselves and its country; not to save Indigenous people.
If anything, the crimes of these British enterpreneurs in the Caribbean matched those of the Spaniards, Dutch, French and others. No gain for the natives.
 
It is true that Spaniards invaded the Americas, and that other European powers would follow. There was no right for doing that.
 
However, once the Spanish Empire was established and the production in the New World started, the attacks of pirates against it was just attack of pirates: therefore criminals. No matter they were private enterpreneurs or acted under contract to an allien power.
 
 
 
 


Edited by pinguin - 17-Apr-2009 at 20:02
"He who attempts to count the stars, not even knowing how to count the knots of the 'quipus'(counting string), ought to be held in derision."

Inca Pachacutec (1438-1471)
Back to Top
Styrbiorn View Drop Down
Caliph
Caliph


Joined: 04-Aug-2004
Location: Sweden
Online Status: Offline
Posts: 2818
Post Options Post Options   Quote Styrbiorn Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17-Apr-2009 at 20:01
Originally posted by pinguin

 
However, once the Spanish Empire was established and the production in the New World started, the attacks of pirates against it was just attack of pirates: therefore criminals. No matter they were private enterpreneurs or acted under contract to an allien power.
 
 

So, in the same manner, once the silver had been captured it was suddenly the rightful property of the new owner? Wink
Back to Top
pinguin View Drop Down
Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff
Avatar

Joined: 29-Sep-2006
Location: Chile
Online Status: Offline
Posts: 7508
Post Options Post Options   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17-Apr-2009 at 20:05
The silver was produced. How many silver artifacts did you see Incas manufactured?
Silver was produced in the mines of Potosi and Mexico, and was transported through a network of spanish roads in the Americas.
The citizens of those New World territories all belonged to the Spanish crown. Pirates weren't robbing the conquistadors but attacking the regular trade of an Empire.
"He who attempts to count the stars, not even knowing how to count the knots of the 'quipus'(counting string), ought to be held in derision."

Inca Pachacutec (1438-1471)
Back to Top
gcle2003 View Drop Down
Immortal Guard
Immortal Guard
Avatar

Joined: 06-Dec-2004
Location: Luxembourg
Online Status: Offline
Posts: 7011
Post Options Post Options   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17-Apr-2009 at 20:16
Originally posted by pinguin

Originally posted by gcle2003

...Tha Spanish took a French colony in Florida and massacred all the inhabitants in 1565. There's a difference?
 
Document it, please. I didn't know that story.
Before the Spanish settled in Florida, a colony was set up there as a refuge for French Huguenots led by Jean Ribault (sometimes Ribaut). The Spanish sent a mission under Mendendez de Aviles to drive them out. It ended with a Spanish victory, and the killing of all the French men involved, including many who have been shipwrecked in a hurricane and were not fighting. It's said sometimes that if the French could prove they were Roman Catholics not Huguenots then Aviles let them live.
 
Googling on Jean Ribault or Menendez de Aviles will get you lots of references. But you could start with http://encyclopedia2.thefreedictionary.com/Ribaut,+Jean
Citizen of Ankh-Morpork
Never believe anything until it has been officially denied - Sir Humphrey Appleby, 1984.
Back to Top
pinguin View Drop Down
Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff
Avatar

Joined: 29-Sep-2006
Location: Chile
Online Status: Offline
Posts: 7508
Post Options Post Options   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17-Apr-2009 at 20:25
Interesting.
"He who attempts to count the stars, not even knowing how to count the knots of the 'quipus'(counting string), ought to be held in derision."

Inca Pachacutec (1438-1471)
Back to Top
Bulldog View Drop Down
Caliph
Caliph
Avatar

Joined: 17-May-2006
Location: United Kingdom
Online Status: Offline
Posts: 2775
Post Options Post Options   Quote Bulldog Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17-Apr-2009 at 20:41
Gcle
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.
 

If your talking about a few centuries ago then yes your average person was poor, only the privaledged upper classes had a good standard of life, there wasn't a large middle class, most people lived in poverty.
 
      “What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world remains and is immortal.”
Albert Pine

Back to Top
gcle2003 View Drop Down
Immortal Guard
Immortal Guard
Avatar

Joined: 06-Dec-2004
Location: Luxembourg
Online Status: Offline
Posts: 7011
Post Options Post Options   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18-Apr-2009 at 10:04

Which all makes it a pretty useless thing to say about the reason for people becoming pirates.

Poverty is relative. By our standards the kings of England were poor. The pirates were poor: so they were hardly 'escaping from poverty'.
 
My point was that the pirates were richer as law-abiding seamen, (which for the most part they originally were, for obvious reasons) than the mass of people who did not become pirates, so there must have been some other distinguishing factor involved.
Citizen of Ankh-Morpork
Never believe anything until it has been officially denied - Sir Humphrey Appleby, 1984.
Back to Top
edgewaters View Drop Down
Immortal Guard
Immortal Guard
Avatar

Joined: 13-Mar-2006
Location: Canada
Online Status: Offline
Posts: 2396
Post Options Post Options   Quote edgewaters Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30-Apr-2009 at 19:35

I think there are two different phases to piracy.

The first is during the era of widespread privateering. Many privateers overstepped their bounds and 'authority' (if you want to call it that) and turned to outright piracy. Privateering was like a gateway - once you've got private vessels licensed to raid and loot, it's just a short step to true piracy. There are many examples of this sort. Once they'd fallen afoul of the law, they could not return to their home country.

The second phase comes later, during the 18th century, when the naval powers turned to massive national fleets. Like any armed force, there were deserters, especially given the conditions seamen (many of them unwilling seamen) had to put up with. They had the same basic problem: once they mutinied, there was no point in going home and piracy was often their only option.

There's also another form of piracy known in all eras, which is simply aggressive action by locals or minor warlords against ships in their area. Basically the same thing as what naval powers do in war, but we don't recognize the legitimacy of minor or unorganized groups to do it.



Edited by edgewaters - 30-Apr-2009 at 19:37
Back to Top
Ikki View Drop Down
Chieftain
Chieftain
Avatar
Guanarteme

Joined: 31-Dec-2004
Location: Spain
Online Status: Offline
Posts: 1358
Post Options Post Options   Quote Ikki Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-May-2009 at 18:17

An interesting matter is how much of the generalization that you guys are saying can be applied to all forms of piracy across the history. Because we have focused basically in european piracy of 1500-1800, but as you know piracy is a far greater phenomenon.

You know that universal rules aren't universal trues in history, but F. Braudel, talking about the Mediterranean in the 16th century wrote a comment which I found very good for the phenomenon of the Piracy (and corsarism etc): Piracy needs rich economic fluxes. He said this because traditionally have been considered that the discovery of América ended the mediterranean good times, but piracy existed specially in 16th century, why happened this? Because in fact the mediterranean traffic was as rich or richer than before, the exclusion of barbary traders from this flux, or christians traders in Orient, moved these men to practice piracy in the sea, and because the sea was rich they could sustain their activity; when the richness declined after 1600, piracy declined.
 
I find this explanation very important and can be applied to most of the piracy examples: from the woku pirates in China in 1400-1600 to the europeans in spanish routes to América, passing by malayans in malayan straits and until today, when Somalis pirates attack arguably the most important trade rout in the world.
 
 
 
-----------
 
Going back in this thread, talking about Spain and the piracy, you guys have choosen two different approach which are unreal, with spaniards defending or attacking pirates.
 
In fact, piracy in Spain have a long, very long tradition of private enterprise and corsarism. From at least the 9th century, when muslim andalusian pirates based on Almería raided the christian lands and the traffic in the mediterranean, until the 19th whey they were attacking rebels in american waters; I wouldn't dettail all the examples. In the Golden Age of piracty there were pure spanish pirates, without any lord than theirself, but the bulk of the spanish piracy was corsarism, and was as great as any other of their famous rivals. Many ports gave corsarian schedules to private men, they were capable of great damages to the enemy, in the Jenkin's Ear War for example (1739-1748) they could take more than three hundred ships. In previous century the Crown had her own public corsaries apart from those under private action, the most famous those of Dunkerke.
 
Dunkerkians were a combination of public and private corsaries (spaniards and flemish): they never had more than 25 ships, 10 the royals and 10-15 the privates, the first with professional soldiers. They disrupted the dutch trade in the Northern Sea around 1600 and again between 1621 and 1639, and again around 1650 but against the english when they caught more than 500 ships. Against the dutch, private corsaries prefer to attack the trade with Asia and the trade with the Baltic, but the royal corsaries used to attack the herring dutch fleet, crucial for the survival of Netherlands althought not very profitable for corsaries. In several attacks across the years, they performed very cruel and dramatic actions against dutchmen fishermen: these were fishing usually in several fleets of around 100-120 units, protected by 5-10 war ships (or more). When Dunkerkians found some of these fleets in the Northern and Artic seas, they hadn't remorses sinking more 80-90 of these ships and taking the survivals for a rescue in Dunkerke, or for a interchange of prisoners.
 
 
 
As you see with this example, the corsary action of spaniards was very great, but, this is only an example in a long tradition. I think the reason why people don't know very well this is our fault, it's because political reasons: spaniards prefer to be the victims.
Back to Top
gcle2003 View Drop Down
Immortal Guard
Immortal Guard
Avatar

Joined: 06-Dec-2004
Location: Luxembourg
Online Status: Offline
Posts: 7011
Post Options Post Options   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-May-2009 at 19:19
Nice post. I'd add that 'Dunkirkers' were a pain to English (and Scots) shipping whether Dunkirk at the time was controlled by the Spanish, the French or the Dutch.
 
As a result, a good trivial pursuit answer is that Dunkirk was the last piece of territory on the mainland of Europe, other than Gibraltar, to be under British rule, being captured in 1657 by the Commonwealth until Charles II sold it on to France. Most people will answer 'Calais'.


Edited by gcle2003 - 14-May-2009 at 19:20
Citizen of Ankh-Morpork
Never believe anything until it has been officially denied - Sir Humphrey Appleby, 1984.
Back to Top
Ikki View Drop Down
Chieftain
Chieftain
Avatar
Guanarteme

Joined: 31-Dec-2004
Location: Spain
Online Status: Offline
Posts: 1358
Post Options Post Options   Quote Ikki Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-May-2009 at 22:11
Originally posted by gcle2003

Nice post. I'd add that 'Dunkirkers' were a pain to English (and Scots) shipping whether Dunkirk at the time was controlled by the Spanish, the French or the Dutch.
 
As a result, a good trivial pursuit answer is that Dunkirk was the last piece of territory on the mainland of Europe, other than Gibraltar, to be under British rule, being captured in 1657 by the Commonwealth until Charles II sold it on to France. Most people will answer 'Calais'.
 
A good date, don't forget it for the next quiz Wink
 
 
As you said Dunkirk was a nightmare for England not only with the spanish but with other powers as the french; with Jacques Collaert, Jean Bart is probably the most famous dunkirker. This situation explain what wanted to say the english when they called Belgium "the finger pointing England", they always have needed in Belgium a friendly power because the extrem danger from these ports toward their activities in the Channel.
 
Curiously the idea of Dunkirk as royal corsarian base against the protestants came from an englishman, a catholic who fought in the spanish tercios. He saw the quality of this port for the activity in previous years (1590-1600) and he wrote several letters to the king telling him the advantages of a full support there to the corsaries, and the idea of a royal corsarian navy. This is called today treachery to the motherland LOL


Edited by Ikki - 14-May-2009 at 23:20
Back to Top
 Post Reply Post Reply Page  <123

Forum Jump Forum Permissions View Drop Down



This page was generated in 0.063 seconds.