A bottle of rum and a license to steal – little-known facts about pirates

Pirates were the scourge of every ocean, sea, and river since mankind built boats and ships. Feared for their ruthlessness, landlubbers looking to benefit from the options of trade and travel were faced with these naval highwaymen. Life at sea was no picnic, even for the pirates themselves. The salty air, limited space, and the slowly diminishing supplies were indeed harsh. To combat their woes and their needs for fresh goods, pirates preferred to intimidate and extort, so they could avoid unnecessary battles.

The empires of the time weren’t known for their comfortable wage curves and health benefits. Pirates earned more from their loot shares than the measly sum sailors made. On top of it, pirate crewmen, unlike regular seafarers, had a chance to vote on specific matters. Fearing dissention in the ranks, empires moved to a different business model. They turned their sailors into privateers, who were allowed to practice piracy against the nation’s enemies. Though it sometimes backfired, it was usually proven to be beneficial to all parties involved.

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Those who came upon to be the outlaws of the seven seas were usually skillful mariners desperate for an income. When trade boomed between the different continents at the peak of The Age of Exploration, some sailors felt that a redistribution of wealth was called for, raiding bountiful merchant ships. Some, supplemented their quest for gold by targeting nations they had vendetta with. Pirates sailed for plunder, hoarding goods and demanding ransom, but many didn’t have the economic prowess to know the value of the booty.

Pirates were not nice people to have a cup of rum with. And yet, empires and colonies saw them as a necessary evil. Pirates were able cripple economies through the loss of trade, and cause create a cash flow to the ports they visited. With time, naval engineering advanced, and nations were less keen to have unwanted visitors on their ships. Piracy saw its end in most parts of the world. However, it is still practiced today, but it is as lucrative as it always was.

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