In movies, books, and television, pirates are alpha personalities with a zest for adventure. They’re dangerous, highly skilled at fighting, and live by their own rules. And in many respects, these depictions are right.
Hard to believe, but pirates typically did have their own code of honor. All who joined the crew were expected to “sign on the account,” as such agreeing to the laws of the ship. These laws were called the articles, and they included such things as mercy should be given to all who ask for it, that if the prisoners of a captured ship offered no resistance, they should be treated well, especially women. The articles also declared how all plunder would be distributed amongst the crew, because essentially the crew owned the ship. In fact, they elected their captain.
Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it? Almost honorable. And yet, as I did research on pirates, I found that sometimes they had bizarre habits and beliefs too.
Let’s start with what they drank. Some of the recipes sound rather good, such as bombo, a mixture of rum, water, sugar, and nutmeg. Others, well…others were more unpalatable to me, like drinking rum with gunpowder. I can’t imagine that tasting good.
Pirates were also very superstitious in nature, which kind of makes sense. If I were at sea for months on end, at the mercy of the elements, I’d probably do the same thing. Then again, one of their superstitions was women aboard ship. They believed women were bad luck, probably because they distracted the men from their duties. Although that doesn’t explain why bananas were also taboo.
They also avoided whistling, sneezing to the left while boarding with their left foot first, or sailing on Thursdays and Fridays. Yes, they were a strange group.
But at least they looked out for one another. Many times the articles would stipulate workers’ compensation. For instance, the loss of an arm might get a sailor 600 pieces of eight or a finger could be worth 100 pieces.
There’s no doubt pirates were an interesting lot. These thieves were a community unto themselves, with their own laws and beliefs, some of which were quite easy to understand while others defy our imagination. Fascinating, quite fascinating indeed.
About Tamara Hughes
A small town girl with a big imagination, Tamara Hughes had no idea what to do with her life. After graduating from college, she moved to a big city, started a family and a job, and still struggled to find that creative outlet she craved. An avid reader of romance, she gave writing a try and became hooked on the power of exploring characters, envisioning adventures, and creating worlds.
She enjoys stories with interesting twists and heroines who have the grit to surmount any obstacle, all without losing the ability to laugh. To learn more, stop by her website!
About TEMPTING THE PIRATE
Charity Goswick thinks she is escaping an arranged marriage to a brute when she slips onto a ship unnoticed. Little does she realize that this is no honorable vessel of the King’s Navy – it is a pirate ship. It’s just a matter of time before she is discovered by a handsome rake of a pirate, who locks her in his cabin. And while she should be scared, her captor sparks the most unladylike feelings within her…
James Lamont is on the ship for one reason, and one reason only: to track down his brother. However, his spirited little stowaway certainly affords plenty of distraction with her many (failed) attempts to escape. And each time, the unspoken – and unbidden – passion between them grows stronger. But as violence and danger mount on the high seas, Charity will have to put all of her trust in the most untrustworthy of men… the arrogant pirate who just might steal her heart.