The tortures of pirates

The tortures of pirates

William Kidd Several pirates, to be respected and preserve their absolute fame, were capable of unbelievable cruelty and inflicted sadistic punishments.
Witnesses of sailors forced to eat cockroaches or swallow their own blood after their teeth had been pulled out weren't rare. Without counting some more terrible punishments of which the chances of survival were slim:

  • The victims were lain down on a big wedge, tied at each end by tight ropes, lifted off the ground.
    4 pirates holding wooden planks would not strike the victim, but worse, would violently strike the tight ropes. The vibrations would travel across the tortured body provoking internal microhemorrhages.

  • The culprit, attached to the limits, was brutally thrown into the water.

  • The bowline or the man has to pass between two rows of seamen who would hit him with rope.
    Bowline: maneuver tied up to a sail to make it take the wind as well as possible.

  • Victims were abandoned on a deserted island... that is well known. But what many people don't know is that before doing so pirates would mutilate their nose and ears.

  • The prisoner, tied to capstan, was lynched with bottle shards. Then insects were dropped on the wounds...

  • In 1695 captain Sawbridge was captured by pirate Edward Low when transporting Arabic horses to Surat. The captain protested and defended himself as much as he could, but when he wouldn't stop talking, the pirates stitched his lips together with string and sail needle. With his hands tied behind his back and mouth closed Sawbridge was pushed into the fire that reduced his ship and cargo to ashes.
    Some question/responses about Edward Low: (in french)
    - Who was the cruelest pirate? And was that the fairest?
    - Who was in the crew of Edward Low?
    - How did Edward Low die ?

  • Ship was burnt down with men chained onboard. The captain had his 4 limbs cut off.

  • When he was bored, Blackbeard shot at his crew in the dark to observe the impact of his bullets on the skin. He justifies it by saying:
    «if I didn't shoot one or two now and then, they'd forget who I was»
    Some questions/responses about Blackbeard the pirate:
    - Who is the pirate who collected the most balls and injuries, and what was the number of injuries?
    - I want to know all the names of a pirate or privateer crew from captain to sailors
    - Who are the four most famous pirates?

  • In 1723 Edward Low made his prisoners run along a plank so that the ship crew could enjoy cutting them with knives. It is said that one day he had cut the lips of a prisoner to have them cooked in front of him, and cut off the ears of another to make him eat them dipped in salt.

  • Rock Braziliano, a beasty drunk, had pushed the terror to having grilled two farmers who had refused to give him their cattle.

  • « The torment of the rack ».
    The buccaneers often had the use of the rack to get them to admit the location of the wealth of their prisoners. The rack was an instrument of torture that gently stretched the arms and legs of the victim until pulling them off.

  • « Flogging with the cat of nine tails ».
    It is a whip with nine strings or strips of leather to which cutting objects could be added. Few survived it.

  • « The careenage » or « the big wedge ».
    The prisoner was stripped off his clothes, then tied to a rope at his feet and hands. He was thrown off the ship and the pirates made him pass over the hull covered with cutting shells. The prisoner found himself deeply cut and was collected on the other side of the boat.

  • « The whip ».
    The pirate or prisoner was often punished of 39 lashes. Never over 39, because according to the Old Testament, a man cannot stand more than 40 lashes without dying.

  • « The torture of the plank ».
    It would not only be in the imagination of writers... but it was said that Bartholomew Roberts forced a prisoner to walk the plank.

Jean David NAU a.k.a. Franšois L'Olonnais the cruel
Jean David NAU a.k.a. Franšois L'Olonnais the cruel, one of the cruelest of all pirates (after Edward Low), knew that his prisoners preferred to commit suicide to interrogation by him.
He would cut off and tear to pieces the tongues of people who confessed to anything under torture. We saw a prisoner's heart cut out for another to eat it raw...

An excerpt from the novel «Long John Silver» by Bj÷rn Larsson, detailing torture fascia (or wide wedge of the ship):
[...] Butterworth ordered the pirate to lower Long John Silver along his bonds to the rustling water surface.
    I then did as I had been taught by the old Indian Chesapeake, before diving under water for a long time I breathed deeply many times to ventilate before closing the mouth. Do not scream! Such was my last thought. A single cry of pain and I'd have spoken my last word on this side of the grave.
    The waves were closed on me, ropes were taut, and my back came scraping the keel. I had not yet come a foot and I felt my skin open and cutting raw pain in my will to live. I knew one thing. After ninety feet of such treatment, my precious body would be a mass of flesh and this would be the end of Long John Silver. I then pondered at the end of my bonds, like a fly in a spider's web. What hope? Was I not bound hand and foot?
    'My hands', I thought suddenly, probably feeling a splinter of wood in one of my buttocks, which made me tighten my arm against my body. I immediately felt soft to port, a breaststroke, two fathoms like this, luff! From that side the guys had obeyed the instructions of the second not too soft ropes. Like this! Soft! The two guys who sneered at starboard, mocking the fate of John Silver, were yet to see. I grabbed their hawser with both hands, support myself on the hull with the heels, and pulled with all my strength, a force I think I have never deployed before or after. My chest was stretched to the point of giving me the impression that it was going to burst, my ears began to ring with a real hurricane, but before the black total would be done before my eyes, [...]

Questions from people about the pirate Long John Silver:

» How did pirate Long John Silver lose his leg?
» From where Stevenson have the brillant idea of Long John Silver with a wooden leg?
» Who was Long John Silver?

Questions from people about torture:

» How did one become a pirate in the 17th and 18th century?

:: MENU ::

Home | Definitions | Pirate flag | Pirates movies | Tortures | Pirates on video games | 85 biographies
Glossaries:   Ships
Fun:   Talk Like a Pirate Day  |  Seamen's geolocalisation
Interactivity:   Ask your questions  |  Guestbook
Others:   Site map  |  Links
Author's area: Gallery of paintings | Make a donation | Author's site (fr) | Contact |
Follow Scummers7Seas on Twitter
Made with ♥ by Alain Decayeux - Copyright © 2006-2023 - ALL RIGHT RESERVED   -   Site map   ~   Pirates & Corsaires, Ecumeurs des Sept Mers French version  -   RSS Questions/Answers pirates and privateers