The real pirates of the Caribbean operated during the Golden Age of Piracy (1690-1730) terrorizing merchant ships and colonial ports to grab gold, liquor, and any cargo they fancied during their adventurous but almost always short careers in crime. In this collection, we look at all the key aspects of being a pirate from wearing the flashiest clothes and handling the best weapons to saying the right maritime expressions. We look, too, at the havens they used, the treasure they captured, and the punishments they suffered. Finally, we showcase four of the most notorious pirates. There is the master of showmanship Blackbeard, Captain Kidd and his fabled buried treasure that still tantalises treasure-seekers today, Anne Bonny who fought with more courage than her male crewmates, and the most successful of them all, mad, bad Bartholomew Roberts.
Perhaps surprisingly for a gang of cut-throats, a pirate captain was frequently elected to his position, but then again, it was difficult to lead through coercion a group of individuals who valued their liberty above all else. Many mariners had turned to piracy precisely because of the strict discipline and harsh punishments of life on a merchant or naval ship and so they were hardly likely to put up with a leader who ruled by the rod alone.