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Review of atlantic pirates in the golden age history essay

Villains of All Nations: Atlantic Pirates in the Golden Age. Rediker divides the Golden Age of Piracy into three distinct stages from 1650 to 1726. The third phase from 1716-1726 featured swashbuckling, former-privateers like Edward Teach, who plundered ships of all nations.

These pirates originally established their home base, at 800 strong, on the ungoverned Bahaman Island of New Providence, but, after the installment of royal authority in 1718, they spread across the Caribbean, the western coast of Africa, and the Indian Ocean.

He combines these with trial records, execution sermons, royal proclamations, plays, novels, paintings, contemporary books, and, in one rare instance, an extant letter from the unrivaled pirate Bartholomew Roberts.

  1. The reader is treated to an intriguing analysis of the symbolism of death, anarchy, anti-authoritarianism and gender in the context of late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth century global politics.
  2. In this manner, pirate customs were passed down throughout the late Golden Age. Finally, there is evidence to suggest that pirates engaged in homosexual activity and close male relationships [matelotage].
  3. The third phase from 1716-1726 featured swashbuckling, former-privateers like Edward Teach, who plundered ships of all nations.
  4. Maybe someday soon the Somali "pirates" will get a similar treatment. Upon capturing a prize, they either burned, sunk, commandeered, or restored the ship.

The letters of crown-appointed, colonial governors like Alexander Spotswood, Woodes Rogers, and Nicholas Lawes are featured heavily, as are the writings of the reverend Cotton Mather. He also emphasizes narratives from several captains and ship owners, like Philip Ashton and William Snelgrave, who survived capture by pirates. Lastly, Rediker draws upon a contemporary genre of criminal biography that includes the works of Captain Charles Johnson and Arthur Lawrence Hayward.

Rediker draws much of his inspiration from a radical tradition that includes historians like E. Members of these orders include attorneys, investors, printers, governors, merchants, captains, propertied men, ministers, planters, and writers.

Who were pirates during the Golden Age? They were mostly male, poor, childless, uneducated, unmarried, adventurous, and in their late 20s and early 30s; many of them hailed from port cities, and most of them had prior maritime experience; in fact, negative experiences onboard naval and merchant vessels generally fueled their piratical ambitions.

Review of Villains of All Nations by Marcus Rediker

In this manner, pirate customs were passed down throughout the late Golden Age. When these injustices are contextualized with several key historical factors—namely the English commercial revolution, the massive demobilization of armies and navies, the expiration of privateering contracts after the War of Spanish Succession, the dispossession of smallholders during the enclosure movement, and the development of colonial markets that were both far-flung and loosely defended—then the tremendous boom in piracy becomes clear.

As always, Rediker is clear to sort out fact from fiction.

Villains of All Nations: Atlantic Pirates in the Golden Age

In addition, there have been at least four confirmed female pirates and six confirmed Native American pirates during the late Golden Age.

Finally, there is evidence to suggest that pirates engaged in homosexual activity and close male relationships [matelotage]. Pirates viewed both the oceans and the ship as common property during a time when both were rapidly becoming appropriated by commercial empires. Among these, pirates also carried a full stock of national flags, in case they should need to deceive an enemy vessel.

Upon capturing a prize, they either burned, sunk, commandeered, or restored the ship. Poor captains, like Captain Skinner, were punished, while good captains, like James Macrae, were rewarded. At base, Rediker argues that pirates were not irrelevant oddities or marginal historical actors during the early-eighteenth century.

Even more, they became social bandits who fought against the capitalist economy; their moral admonishments in goals and gallows had profound implications for review of atlantic pirates in the golden age history essay, and their actions emboldened sailors, who often refused to resist and even joined their crews, and landlubbers, who periodically staged revolts in the wake of their executions.

In a conceptual chapter on female pirates, Rediker buries the greatest and most-novel sub-argument of the whole book. Unfortunately, readers must lament the fact that Rediker does not devote a special chapter to pirates of African descent. Nearly as little has been written about female pirates, yet Rediker manages to produce an entire chapter about them.

To his credit, Rediker does mention the special role that people of African descent had in relation to Atlantic piracy. Black pirates were often chosen for boarding crews because they struck a particular fear into the hearts of merchants who dealt in black commodification.

First, Rediker wrongly dates the beginning of New Providence as a pirate haven to the year 1716.

  • Maybe someday soon the Somali "pirates" will get a similar treatment;
  • Upon capturing a prize, they either burned, sunk, commandeered, or restored the ship;
  • We learn of pirate demography in terms of race, social and economic backgrounds, and national origins.

In fact, New Providence became a pirate haven at least the year prior, when Jamaican privateers like Henry Jennings came in pursuit of the wreckage from the 1715 Spanish treasure fleet. In attempting to return to their home islands, these individuals were expelled and forced to relocate to the Bahamas.

In this regard, Rediker makes the mistake of beginning the late Golden Age of Piracy at least one year too late. Although the War of Spanish Succession ended in 1714, readers hear almost nothing about those first two years.

Henry Jennings, so crucial to the establishment of the Bahamas, is never discussed. Second, there are times when Rediker takes the mysterious yet un-ignorable author Captain Charles Johnson too readily, which is confusing because Rediker indicates his familiarity with the controversies surrounding Johnson in his endnotes.

Review of atlantic pirates in the golden age history essay

As historians of piracy know, Captain Charles Johnson is considered to be a pseudonym; the real identity of the author has been postulated as the novelist Daniel Defoe, the publisher Charles Rivington, and the journalist Nathanial Mist, but it is nonetheless still unknown. Regardless, Rediker seems to pick and choose in his quotes whether to use Johnson at face value or to qualify his claims. These instances are often where Rediker borders on the romantic.

It does not prove an actual likeness. It seems more logical that, although maroon societies and pirates were both byproducts of Atlantic empire, they were nonetheless predicated on fundamentally different philosophies.

The latter wanted to emancipate themselves completely from commercial society, while the former wanted to frustrate commercial society through their periodic engagement. Most importantly, Rediker reminds us that pirates were rebels, and that is why they have continued to fascinate our culture. A History Blog from a History Student.