“The practice of putting a body into a tightly fitting gibbet cage made certain that the bones would stay in place after the flesh had rotted away. It also prevented the corpse’s relatives from removing the body for burial. It is said that prisoners feared their gibbet fitting even more than hanging.”
Link: Dancing the Hempen Jig
Anne Dieu-Le-Veut, a French bucaneer who, along with Jacqoutte Delahaye, was one of a very few female buccaneers (a term that was used in the Caribbean Islands to refer to pirates who attacked Spanish shipping). Her birth name, Marianne (born circa 1650), Anne Dieu-Le-Veut, as she came to be called, means “Anne Gods-wants-it”; her will so strong, that if she wanted something, it was as if God wanted it. Originally one of the women called “Filles de Roi” sent by the French government to Tortuga in Haiti to become wives to the local male colonists, she was married to the buccaneer Pierre Length.
In 1683, Anne Dieu-Le-Veut’s husband was killed in a bar fight by the famous buccaneer Laurens de Graff. Challenging Laurens to a duel to avenge her husbands death (other sources claims she heard him insult her), Laurens drew his sword, Anne drew her gun. But it was Laurens who succumbed saying he would not fight a woman; he then proposed to her on the spot in admiration of her courage (in truth, they never married as Laurens already had a wife whom he had abandoned many years before, but they were from this point forward seen as man and wife).
Anne Dieu-Le-Veut shared Laurens work and the command on his ship in the same fashion as Anne Bonny did with Calico Jack. However, unlike Bonny, she did not disguise her sex, and her acts therefore aroused much attention and fascination. Considered bad luck to have a woman onboard a ship, Anne Dieu-Le-Veut was instead regarded as the bringer of good luck.
Anne Dieu-Le-Veut’s most famous tale swashbuckelingly begins as she and Laurens attacks a Spanish ship; a canon-ball taking the life of Laurens, and Anne taking his place as commander of his ship. Hurling their crew of pirates on with fury in the fight against the Spaniards, they were outnumbered and all were captured. Taken first to Vera Cruz in Mexico, and then to Cartagena in Colombia, both of which were cities earlier sacked by Laurens, to be judged, Anne’s fame was so great that when the French Marin Secretary of Pontchartrain heard of this, he wrote to Louis XIV of France and asked him to make the king of Spain intervene. Anne was then freed as a special service between kings, and she was never heard of again.
Anne Dieu-Le-Veut’s daughter (she was said to have had two, born in the early 1690s) was said to have lived in Haiti, where she became known for having performed a duel with a man. Such mother, such girl!
Jacqoutte Delahaye came from Haiti, her father was French and her mother Haitian. She is described as a great beauty who became a pirate after her father was killed. Her brother suffered from mild retardation and was left in her care after her father’s death.
To escape her pursuers, she faked her own death and took on an alias, living as a man for many years. Upon returning she became known as “back from the dead red” because of her striking red hair.
September 19th…Git yer grog on!
Lady Mary Killigrew is notorious not so much because she was a pirate, but because she was a member of the English aristocracy, a ‘Lady’ under Queen Elizabeth I, at that.
Married to Sir John Killigrew, who was given numerous royal titles as he controlled whole fleets of pirates along the coast of Great Britain. The Killigrews refrained from stealing from the Queen and her “friends” and piracy was tolerated by Great Britain as long as they did so for pirates had been very useful during times of war.
However, Lady Killigrew took a prize the Queen was not in favor of. On January 1st, 1583, the Spanish ship Maria docked at Arwenack Castle where Lady Killigrew entertained the captain and crew. For several days the captain and others visited Penryn, but upon their return discovered that the Maria had disappeared. Lady Killigrew and her servants had in fact killed those crew that had remained aboard and absconded with boat and cargo. Although many believed her guilty, no proof was found to link Lady Killigrew to the theft or the murders.
The Spaniards complained to the authorities in London, and it was soon discovered that Lady Killigrew’s son, a judge, had tampered with the investigation. She and her two lieutenants were arrested. All were sentenced to death, though having felt she had made her point, the Queen changed Lady Killigrew’s sentence to a long prison term, sighting “that she might eventually want her services again.”
Link: Lady Mary Killigrew of Cornwall | Pirates & Privateers
Mary Read was born in London to the widow of a sea captain. When Mary’s older brother, the legitimate child in the family, died, Mary’s mother began to disguise her as a boy, so as not to lose the financial support the child received from his paternal grandmother. The grandmother was apparently fooled, and Read and her mother lived on the inheritance into her teenage years. Still dressed as a boy, Read then found work as a footboy but became bored with the position and instead found employment aboard a ship.
However, excessive amounts of abuse led her to jump ship and join the British military. Read proved herself through battle and fell in love with a fellow sailor. She and the sailor married and, with his military commission, opened an inn named “The Three Horseshoes”.
For the first time in her life, Read lived life as a woman. She and her new husband lived happily until his tragic death, at which time Read again returned to military service disguised as a man, using her husband’s clothes. But the military had lost its spark to Read, so she quit and boarded a ship bound for the West Indies.
While at sea, Read’s ship was attacked and captured by the notorious pirate “Calico” Jack Rackham and his companion, the female pirate Anne Bonny. She and Bonny became close companions. Charles Johnson in A General History of the Pyrates indicates that their friendship was of a romantic nature, though it is not known if this is a fact.
Read along with Bonny was captured with Calico Jack and the rest of his crew in an ambush sent by Governor Lawes of Jamaica. Both women confessed to their true gender and pleaded their cases in defense of their unborn children. Read is beleived to have been pregnant by either Calico Jack or some other unknown pirate lover, while Bonny is believed to have been pregnant either by her long-time lover Calico Jack, or by Dr. Michael Radcliff, a former prisoner from one of their many raids whose life was saved by Bonny.
Read died while in prison, either from fever or during child birth.
References in Pop Culture
- Mary Read and Anne Bonney are prominently featured in the Off-Broadway play A Pirate’s Lullaby.
- Read and Bonney are main characters in the webcomic Sea Monsters by Gwendolyn Meer.
- Bonny and Read are featured in Disneyland’s Pirates of the Caribbean ride.
Link: Wikipedia–Mary Read
At the tender age of 16, Anne married a hafl-hack pirate named James Bonny, a man whom her lawyer father, of course, disapproved of, and subsequently disowned her. For this she burned down the family plantation in retaliation.
Anne quickly grew tired of her spineless husband, though it is not fair to blame Anne entirely, he gave her a lot to compare him with as he had moved her to the renown pirate lair of New Providence in the Bahamas. Here she spent most of her time with the pirate elite.
Anne first managed to capture the attentions of Chidley Bayard, one of the richest men in the Carribean— although in order to keep him she had to duel his current lover, a violent Spanish beauty named Maria (who, it was rumored, had once decapitated a child who had inadvertantly dirtied her skirts) in a fight to the death. However, Bonny was rumored to have stabbed a servant woman in the belly with a butter knife while at the dinner table at the age of 13.
But even Baynard was not to keep Bonny’s attention for long. He was replaced with a ruthless swashbuckling pirate named Calico Jack, whom she eloped with. And though Calico Jack lasted the longest–though it was only because he allowed her to act as his equal aboard his pirating ship–and because her rumored lesbian lover Mary Read was also aboard the ship.
Still, even the ruthless Calico Jack could not receive all Bonny’s favor. In October of 1720, Governor Lawes of Jamaica sent an armed sloop to intervene and capture the Captain Jack and crew. Anne and Mary Read were also captured, but confessed their true gender. At their trial, when asked if they had any words to say before they were sentenced, Anne spoke up for both of them: “We plead our bellies, sir!” Both women were pregnant at the time. They received separate trials from the men, but were sentenced to hang after the birth of their babies. When Calico Jack, who at his trial had pleaded for mercy on behalf of the women, was granted a special favor to see Anne on the day he was to hang, Anne’s words to him were, “I’m sorry, Jack. But if you had fought like a man, you would not now be about to die like a dog. Do straighten yourself up!”
Link: College Park | Anne Bonny
La Marquise de Frèsne–a pirate of the late 16oo’s who plagued the Mediterranean and was immortalized as the heroine to the novel “Memoirs De Madame La Marquise De Fresne,” by Courtilz de Sandras. Written while the soldier was a refugee in the Netherlands, this fictional tale is written with historical facts. It’s the most outrageous parts that are the most truth.
Purchase a rare, leather-bound and gold embossed print of this famed romance novel on ebay.
Link: Ebay | Rare EO 1701 Memoires De Madame La Marquise De Fresne
“She was the daughter of Owen Dubhdarra O’Malley, chieftain of the O’Malley clan, and a larger-than-life figure from 16th century Irish history and legend.
According to Irish legend, as a young girl O’Malley wished to go on a trading expedition to Spain with her father, and on being told she could not because her long hair would catch in the ship’s ropes,she cut off most of her hair to embarrass her father into taking her, thus earning her the nickname “Gráinne Mhaol” (maol meaning “bold” or having cropped hair); the name stuck.
A widespread legend concerns an incident at Howth, which apparently occurred in 1576. During a trip from Dublin, O’Malley attempted to pay a courtesy visit to Howth Castle, home of the 8th Baron Howth. However, she was informed that the family was at dinner and the castle gates were closed against her. In retaliation, she abducted the Earl’s son and heir, the 10th Baron. He was eventually released when a promise was given to keep the gates open to unexpected visitors, and to set an extra place at every meal. At Howth Castle today, this agreement is still honoured by the Gaisford St. Lawrence family, descendants of the Baron.”
Link: Wikipedia–Grace O’Malley
An English princess, daugher of Alfred the great and wife of the Alderman of Mercia and Govonor of London. Aethelfled married at the tender age of 15, though this was no shrieking violet that Aethelred, earl of Mercia, was about to marry. While traveling to Mercia, her wedding band was attacked by the Danes in an attempt to sabotage the alliance between Wessex, where her brother Edward the Elder (later known as Edward the Great) ruled, and Mercia. Though half of her company died in the first attack, Aethelfled made a fortress of an old trench, defeating the Danes.
Ladgerda, a skilled amazon, who, though a maiden, had the courage of a man, and fought in the battle to avenge the death of the previous Norwegian King’s murder and the shaming of all his female kinsfolk including herself. In front among the bravest with her hair loose over her shoulders. All marvelled at her matchless deeds, for her locks flying down her back betrayed that she was a woman.
Ragnar, grandson of the slain king, Siward and successor of the throne, when he had justly cut down the murderer of his grandfather, asked many questions of his fellow soldiers concerning the maiden whom he had seen so forward in the fray, and declared that he had gained the victory by the might of one woman.
“They began the sea-fight and sustained it on either side with high regard for their fame and courage. Then came the lucky moment the young man had been waiting for when he leapt onto Alvid’s bows and, surrounded by soldiers who were fresher and more numerous, forced his way right up on to the stern, slaughtering all who withstood him. Borkar, his companion, struck off Alvid’s helmet and, as soon as he saw the delicacy of her countenance, realized who the scourge of the seas had been.”
Prince Alf of Denmark had finaly captured the prize princess he had been chasing the Baltic Seas for and married Alivild (aka Alfhild) on the spot.
Link: Alvild (aka Alfhild)
Also known as the Red Maiden, Rusla and her sister, Stikla, were constant companions and formidable pirates who raided ships and cities in Iceland, Denmark, and the British Isles. It was Rusla’s fight with her brother, and King, Tesondus, that consumed her.
Disgusted with her brother’s failure when he lost the crown to the Danish King, she decided to avenge her brother by sending her own fleet to wage war on the Danes. Along the way, though, she chanced upon her brother’s ship and and sank it. He was a failure anyways. The sniveling whelp managed to swim to shore safely.
Link: The Red Maiden
Princess Sela, sister of the Norwegian King, Kolles, takes to the seas as a pirate when her much hated brother takes the throne. Sela led daring raids, amassing quite a reputation and a sizeable treasure. Her king brother was also a pirate of report and treasure and Sela’s hate for him grew ever more with each conquest as she becomes bitterly determined to defeat him.
Her brother’s greed and her hate-driven lust. however, become the end of them both as her brother sets off to attack a small island off of Norway. A chase ensues as Sela follows him, only finding when she arrives that she is too late as the enemy has already slain her brother and she finds herself trapped in the middle of the ensuing battle with her brother’s killers. Sela meets her end in this battle–or so the story goes.
Link: Princess Sela
Queen and regent of Illyria, Teuta’s first decision was to drive out the Greek colonies off the Illyrian coast. While Dyrrachium was too well fortified to conquer, Finiq surrendered, and while her ships were off the coast of Sarande, her pirates decided a little plundering was in order as they intercepted some merchant vessels of Rome. Spurned by their success, Teuta’s pirates plundered their way southward in the Ionian sea along the coast of Italy, soon becoming feared as the terror of Adriatic.
Link: Queen Teuta
Sister of Pygmalion and joint heir to their father’s throne, Elissa desires to flee Tyre after her baby brother has her beloved husband murdered to gain his rumored great riches. Under the pretense of wishing to move into her brother’s palace, she secretly orders her attendants to throw her husbands bags of gold into the sea as an offering to his spririt. In truth the bags only contained sand, but the more cunning Elissa convinces the attendants to flee with her, away from Tyre.
The party sails to the coast of North Africa where she bargains with the locals to lend her a small bit of their land–no more than what could be encompassed by an oxhide. Cutting the hide into fine strips she is able to use enough to surround an entire nearby hill (which is commemorated in modern mathematics as the “isoperimetric problem”). Many locals and envoys alike join the ranks of this settelment, building the city that becomes Carthage.
Carthage was Rome’s greatest rival and enemy. Virgil’s Dido symbolizes this, and though Rome did not exist in Elissa’s lifetime, her figures becomes demonized as an anti-Roman figure because she represented at least three qualities that were repugnant to Romans: feminine virtue, a Semitic ethnic origin, and African civilization.