Welcome to the world of pirates, bucanneers, & privateers!
Ever since mariners first launched their fragile vessels from the ocean's edge, pirates have not been far behind. Violent, bloodthirsty villains, they struck terror into the crews they encountered and plagued legitimate shipping throughout the world.
Though pirates have been ubiquitous throughout maritime history, there have been periods when they have been more active. Ideed, before the advent of modern navies, piracy was actively encouraged by European monarchs as a way of harrassing their enemies on the high seas.
The romanticization of piracy began centuries ago, even while the brutality of real pirates' deed was within living memory. Stoked by the pens of Byron and Stephenson and the brush of Howard Pyle, pirates benefitted from a PR makeover. Today the process is complete, with Hollywood rendering pirates as swashbuckling, wisecracking and essentially harmless figures. It's a world away from the reality of Somalian pirates who dominate the news pages. Yet the entertainment industry presents the fantasy pirate figure entirely without irony.
The story of piracy is a fascinating and long one. This website aims to detail most aspects of historical piracy, with biographies of major and minor figures, notes on the major eras of smuggling, and details of the generally-accepted divisions of the smuggling chronology. You will also find here a blog covering smuggling topics.