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Question of Pauline (04.21.2016): Can you give me the name of two famous St. Malo corsairs? Thank you in advance!
A: The two most famous are:

Duguay-Trouin - Duguay-Trouin whose real name was René Trouin du Gué (June 10, 1673 Saint-Malo - September 27, 1736 Paris)

Robert Surcouf Robert Surcouf (December 12, 1773 Saint-Malo - July 8, 1827).

Question of Lord Nelson (04.20.2016): How to keep the sails on the masts?
Keep the sails on the mastsA: On many types of ships sails are adjusted to the yards, which are pieces of wood placed across the mast.

The exception to this is the Bermuda sail, the mainsail and sail sprit that are attached to the mast.

(Fasteners sails). In all three cases if one goes into detail, the sail is attached via rocambeau rings (3) (or rings of sizes according to the sails) that are stacked on the mast (1), or the mast rope (6) is wound in a spiral around the mast.

Halyard (2) is used for hoisting the sail down the mast, also raises the veil enhanced by its rope (4) sewn on its sides, and is attached by its Eyes-coats (5).
© Photo Boats, Gründ editions

Question of Maureen - Nyn B. (04.19.2016): I'm a writer and I would like to know whether there are very specific first names of pirates or there are some that would be better. And the last names? Thank you for your cooperation!
pirates crewA: You can see the names of the crew of Blackbeard a.k.a. Edward Teach (or Drummond) at this link.

Here is in particular the list of the crew of Edward Low.

The full names are more mundane. But bear in mind that many pirates preferred to use nicknames. These nicknames were not all wacky, like Blackbeard (Edward Teach), the Exterminator (Monbars), La Buse (Olivier Levasseur), Calico Jack (John Rackham), etc ... there were some common names invented to leave no trace of their past, because they were often thieves, former Royal Navy (which inflicted harsher punishments than its soldiers did as pirate captains) and other criminals.
© Painting: Frederick Judd Waugh "The Buccaneers"

Question of Anonymous (04.18.2016): Were there ships carrying 100 guns? Are there any bigger ships as frigates?
H.M.S. VictoryA: (Ships with more than 100 guns) There are indeed vessels of more than 100 guns called three-decker ships with 120 guns, built in the 1800s, such as H.M.S. Victory for example.

There were all kinds of guns on board, guns 12, 24, 32 pounds and pivots cannons.
- More info about guns.

Question of Tristan (04.18.2016): I’d like to have a timeline of the conquest of Puerto Bello made by Henry Morgan in 1668, as well as other information such as the number of boats, men, dead, etc. Thank you.
The capture of Porto Bello in 1668 by Henry MorganA: After looting Puerto Principe and that taking bringing only 60 crowns to each man, Henry Morgan suggested capturing Porto Bello in 1668, mistress city to boarding coveted metal from Peru: gold.

No one has ever managed to seize the city. Several British died in the storming as did Sir Francis Drake.
60 cannons were directed to the entrance of the bay to repel all intruders. The attack of Porto Bello by sea was suicidal.

Morgan decided to weigh anchor with its fleet of eight small vessels. He met an adventurer from Campeche taking part in the project. Morgan lead nine vessels and 470 men.

He landed at Naos, a village 12 miles from the goal he would not forget to loot. From there he sailed along the coast to the port of El Puerto del Ponton, 4 miles from Porto Bello.

After 4 days, shortly after midnight, he reached the first peak of the town of Porto Bello. He built pretty high and wide wooden ladders that three men could climb head on. The operation was difficult and he lost many men. He ordered a group to go into convents and bring monks and nuns. His men pointed their weapons towards the religious order and carried ladders to the speakers of the fort.

They climbed and Spanish defenders of the fort lifted their arms because they believed that they would go to hell if they killed a religious person. They were caught by the pirates climbing behind the religious people. The fort would have been blasted to let in Morgan's army.

Alexandre-Olivier OExmelin (or OExquemelin) described him as a rapist and a robber. The fort was never destroyed because it was still standing. Morgan was furious to read these lies in the stories of the writer OExmelin.

Morgan used this first fort there to store his injuries.
He used guns to attack the second fort hard and conquered it with much more ease.

The third fort held strong for a little longer, and the fight was finished around 3 in the afternoon. Morgan was the winner.

Joseph brought his ships to port the next morning while his adventurers looted the city.

He returned to Jamaica with over 260,000 crowns and jewels, as well as fabrics and many valuable goods.

To summarize in numbers:
- Henry Morgan had 9 small vessels including 470 men,
- The fort of Porto Bello was composed of 400 Spanish soldiers
- 260,000 crowns and jewels and many other goods were looted.

» Porto Bello Google Maps (Detailed)
» Porto Bello Google Maps (large scale)

© illustration by Angus McBride and Osprey Publishing, from the book Buccaneers 1620-1700, Osprey Publishing

Question of Anonymous (04.15.2016): How old was Blackbeard when he died?
Blackbeard in smoke and flames, painting by Frank E. Schoonover - 1922A: Blackbeard would have been about 38 years old when he died; his exact birth date is unknown, but it is around 1680.

He died on November 22, 1718 in a violent struggle against Lieutenant Maynard of the Royal Navy.
© Blackbeard in smoke and flames, painting by Frank E. Schoonover - 1922

Question of Nathan (04.14.2016): Could you display a picture of a flintlock pistol?
Flint gun of pirateA: Here is a picture of a dismantled flint gun.
© source:

Question of Ben (04.14.2016): Where does the word "piracy" come from?
A: Piracy is practiced by a pirate (see etymology).

Piracy is the action of the pirate of attacking a vessel in order to plunder its cargo or the ship around.

The etymology of the word piracy comes from Peirates meaning ‘violently seize’. This word dates from the Greek era.

Question of Levasseur, Barbossa & tiny corsair (04.14.2016): For some time I've been wanting to know what makes the rudder turn. Can you help me?
Operation of the rudder of a galleonA: An example of rudder on a galleon dating back to the seventeenth century. We can see in blue the whole mechanism articulating the helm.

The control bar or manual (figure 15) is operated by a man holding the position of helmsman.

Between 14 and 15 the "ball" is called pintle.

The movement of the rod actuates the drawbar (14), which in turn rotates the rudder on its hinges (13).

We can see that the helmsman directing the rudder was inside the ship and could not see where he was heading. He followed the rudder maneuver orders of a second captain who was on the quarterdeck of the ship.

The wheel was created in the early eighteenth century.
© Illustration by Grisewood & Dempsey Ltd, London

Question of Germur (04.12.2016): Is it true that the carpenter (a leading master) received a larger share of booty than the rest of the crew? In what way?
The pirate code / charter partyA: I say that this is not wrong, because everything depends on who wrote the pirate code contract.

Alexandre Olivier Oexmelin explains the pirate code "in general" indicating indirectly that the carpenter receives no larger share than other sailors.
Indeed, the captain receives a share of the profits and the enemy ship or two shares of profits if the ship is common to all the crew or not.
The surgeon received 200 crowns for his safe drugs, whether taken or not, but had a share of the spoils like other sailors.
The officers were also treated as members of the crew.
Then there were additional rewards for the man who took the initiative to capture the enemy ship and to the crippled sailors. These sailors had the choice to take the money or the equivalent of slaves.

Henry Morgan attributed the reward of 100 dollars to a carpenter for work performed. The surgeon received 200 for his "remedies".
Other awards were diverse and varied as the one who would take away the enemy flag of a fortress there to fly the English flag, taking a prisoner in order to snatch vital information, the grenadiers who would fight and destroy a fortress, etc., and of course, always the famous social security of rewarding the maimed.
© photo: Extract of pirate code / charter party agreement for shipment of the ship Weapons Amsterdam to Quebec. January 20, 1657. Source: AD17 Notary Pierre Moreau.

Question of BlackMath (04.11.2016): Did Captain Hector Barbossa from "Pirates of the Caribbean" really exist?
Captain Barbossa were inspired by the pirate Barbarossa HayreddinA: Captain Barbossa and Captain Blackheart were inspired by the pirate Khair Eddin Pasha (1476-1546), more commonly known as Barbarossa.

His Turkish name: Barbaros Hayreddin (Hayrettin) Paşa or Hızır Hayreddin (Hayrettin) Paşa, born Khizr or Khidr, was an Ottoman admiral of the fleet who was born in the island of Midilli (Lesbos) and died in Constantinople (Istanbul), the Ottoman capital.

Barbarossa's naval victories secured Ottoman dominance over the Mediterranean during the mid 16th century, from the Battle of Preveza in 1538 until the Battle of Lepanto in 1571.

Question of alex michel (04.11.2016): Are there still pirates today?
A: Yes, unfortunately there are still many pirates today, and they are rampant all over the globe. They are organized and use speedboats and weapons repeatedly. Go and see this question / answer for pirates today.

Question of Anaïs, Amélie & Stefen (04.08.2016): Do you have the lyrics of the first song from the "Pirates of the Caribbean 3": Hoist The Colours?
Hoist The Colours - Hissons Nos CouleursA: Here are the lyrics in English and French:
Hoist The Colour

Yo, ho, haul together,
hoist the colors high.
Heave ho,
thieves and beggars,
never shall we die.

The king and his men
stole the queen from her bed
and bound her in her Bones.
The seas be ours
and by the powers
where we will we’ll roam.

Yo, ho, haul together,
hoist the colors high.
Heave ho, thieves and beggars,
never say we die.

Some men have died
and some are alive
and others sail on the sea
– with the keys to the cage...
and the Devil to pay
we lay to Fiddler’s Green !

The bell has been raised
from it’s watery grave...
Do you hear it’s sepulchral tone ?
We are a call to all,
pay head the squall
and turn your sail toward home !

Yo, ho, haul together,
hoist the colors high.
Heave ho, thieves and beggars,
never say we die.
Hissons Nos Couleurs

Le Roi et ses pairs, ont enfermés la Reine
A bord d’un bateau de plomb
Nous naviguerons, et par ses pouvoirs
Moi et mes frères voguerons

Yo ho ! Sur l’heure
Hissons nos couleurs
Hisse et ho ! L’âme des pirates
Jamais ne mourra
Yo ho ! Quand sonne l’heure
Hissons nos couleurs
Hisse et ho ! L’âme des pirates
Jamais ne mourra

Il y a les morts, il y a les vivants
On ne peut fuir le temps
Grâce aux clefs de la cage
Il faut payer le diable
Et piller le levant
Les morts ne peuvent pas faire voile
Vers les mystères du funèbre Océan
Mais nous ne sommes et soyons forts
Et rentrons au port

Yo ho ! Quand sonne l’heure
Hissons nos couleurs
Hisse et ho ! L’âme des pirates
Jamais ne mourra.

Question of Cindy, Maude and Chip (04.07.2016): What is a Sea biscuit or Hardtack?
Sea biscuit / hardtackA: A sea biscuit, more commonly known as hardtack, was once the staple food of any sailor.

Sea voyages were long and food preservation posed serious problems. Even salted meat ended up rotting! The only remaining option was the hardtack, extremely hard and could sometimes be kept for several years. The sailors ate preferably in the dark so as not to see the mould and insects crawling over the food!
Sea biscuit / hardtack
The sea biscuit was composed of an unleavened bread wheat flour compound having vitamin B and about 10% protein. It was very dense, baked, and annealed several times until humidity had become completely absent.

Hence the origin of the word biscuit from the old days of the sailors in the Middle Ages, called "bis-cuit" cooked twice.
© Photos from Vancouver Maritime Museum

Question of yo ho a pirate's life for me !!!! (04.05.2016): What exactly is Piece of Eight?
Piece of Eight SpanishA: The eight coins (also known as the “real de a ocho”, “Spanish dollar”, and the “eight-real coin”) were minted by the Spaniards from the silver from the New World (the Americas).

They are often cut into pieces to serve as a small change because their value was calculated based on their weight in precious metal.

The piece of eight traveled a lot in the coffers of the Spanish ships for several hundred years, and became the current pirate booty.

A piece of eight was worth 8 silver reals (8 times 1 real).
See all the currency equivalents of the piece of eight here.

Question of VINCI (04.01.2016): What weight can a pirate ship withstand?
HMS Victory, cut viewA: Everything depends on the type of the pirate ship!

The preferred ships for pirates were the Brick, the Sloop, the Brigantine, the cutter, and the Chébec. Few pirates had larger vessels.

The maximum weight a ship can hold is called the useful tonnage corresponding to the space for storing goods or guns - the freight. The tonnage is a measure of the volume of a boat. A barrel corresponds to 2.83 m3.

For example, the useful tonnage of a brig ranged from 90 to 300 tons!

Question of Vinci (03.31.2016): Did pirates also plunder on land?
The pirate Morgan capturing PanamaA: Indeed, pirates did not primarily attack at sea; they also made raids on land.

Pirate Nau repeatedly attacked cities on land. His taking of Maracaibo in 1666 was helped by the filibuster Michel le Basque, then he made the difficult decision of attacking the city of San Pedro. Difficult, because due to constant attacks of the Spanish the city's inhabitants were alert to raids.

Henry Morgan made a huge sensation of capturing Panama in 1671, surely the most impressive land expedition led by buccaneers.

But the real strength of the pirates was where they used to live: at sea.
© Photo Michel Lecumberry

Question of Jackrackam (03.29.2016): Hello! Can you tell me which style of ship is closest to the Black Pearl?
The Black Pearl and the VasaA: The Black Pearl, from the movie Pirates of the Caribbean, like the Flying Dutchman, was partly inspired by Dutch flutes of the seventeenth century, and particularly in Vasa (or Wasa), a famous Swedish warship.

The Vasa was too ornate, and its bad ship stability, and work had reduced it to much too short. O the day of his inauguration to the Stockholm harbour in 1628 a gust of wind had made history for the ship - the wind brought water to rush through the portholes of the lower battery and the ship sank…
© Photo Vasa: Paul Donovan

Question of hellekin beowulf (03.29.2016): Where in the Caribbean is Île-à-Vache (Cow Island)?
Cow Island - L'Île-à-VacheA: The Île-à-Vache is located south of Haiti. It owes its name to the huge amount of oxen and cows that were found there.

In 1670 Henry Morgan was escorted by 10 vessels with 700 men whose destination was Ile-a-Vache. The ship Henry Morgan that contained a large treasure sank near the Ferret bay to Ile-a-Vache after an explosion, possibly caused during a drinking party held after a successful piracy.

- The Île-à-Vache on Google Maps
- The Île-à-Vache on Google Earth

Question of A legend (03.22.2016): What is the black spot?
The black spot prepared by pirates from the book Treasure Island by Robert Louis StevensonA: The Black Spot is a literary device invented by Robert Louis Stevenson, author of the novel Treasure Island.

In the book pirates are presented with a "black spot" to officially pronounce a verdict of guilt or judgment. It consists of a circular piece of paper or card with one side blackened and the other side bearing a message and placed in the hand of the accused.
© The black spot prepared by pirates from the book Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

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