13 Bizarre Pirate Traditions Most People Don’t Know About

13 Bizarre Pirate Traditions Most People Don’t Know About

Pirates have a
reputation, admittedly earned for being ruthless,
bloodthirsty killers. Life on the high
seas demanded so much of those willing
to brave it that it became customary for new pirates
to develop an honorable accord. Pirates had a surprisingly
complex culture. And what’s crazier to us
is that movies have barely scratched the surface
of their traditions. Today we’re going to look at
the bizarre pirate traditions you may have never heard about. But before we do
that, use that mouse. Click and subscribe
to Weird History, and leave us a pirate
inspired line or two. Now, here we be, matey. Arr! Blackbird’s vessel,
Queen Anne’s Revenge, brought 40 cannons to
every boarding party. Ditto Black Bart’s
Royal Fortune. Sam Bellamy snatched a British
slave ship, the Whydah, and immediately mounted 28
guns, port and starboard. William Kidd had 34. You get the idea. If you don’t want a short
drop and a sudden stop at the nearest
port, you’d best be ready to sink
whoever crosses you. We get it. It’s hard to argue against
the thunder of 40 cannons. Unfortunately, it’s literally
deafening to your crew. What’s a captain going to do? Recall your Homer,
then your Jack Sparrow. Pirates figured out that
they could hang wads of wax from those big bangley
earrings of theirs. Pop some into the
old tune catchers. Pack the barrel. Light the fuse. And boom. Moderately less severe
auricular damage. Could probably still benefit
from a visit to a good ENT, though. Besides being handy
for wax storage and personal expression,
buccaneer bling served an eminently
practical insurance policy. Pirates are all about
the sea, but there’s nothing romantic
about an eternity bobbing about in the bottom
drawer of Davy Jones’ locker, slowly being eaten
by hungry halibuts. A pair of gold or
silver earrings meant a pirate could
breathe easy on that count. Melt them down and sell them,
and you’ve got enough cash to pay for a casket. And if they’re really shiny,
a funeral of your very own. Even if your corpse is
less than fresh because it washed up on a beach somewhere. Pirates had a bunch of
superstitions about the hoops too. Fish stories abound
about the bling. They prevent seasickness. They cure bad eyesight. A gold earring can
keep you from drowning. Those pirates who had homes to
go back to engraved their home port and home folks’ contact
info inside their earrings. But considering the
penalty for piracy and the accompanying
public spectacle, a lot of those baubles probably
went to wigs, or opium, or a new fence for the yard. In spite of the free
wheeling swashbuckling image we like to put
on our rum bottles, pirate life was a
little like prison. You spend 20% of your
time fighting, stealing, or smuggling. And the rest is pretty much
standing around doing chores, going through the exact
same routine every day. Most pirates were dudes. But dudes have needs. And even pirates need love. Pack 100 guys in a
confined space for weeks. Put them through some hot,
sweaty, adrenaline soaked adventures, and
bromance is in the air. The best thing about bromance is
that nugget of real, manly love at the bottom. And there was no
shortage of it at sea. Pirates who shared a deeper
connection than, we’re bang buddies, mate, entered
into matelotage, a sexy word for a special, serious
sort of seamanship. Men joined in matelotage shared
property, affection, even sexual partners if
that fit their jib. They often wore gold rings. And they got death benefits
should their partner meet an untimely end. The French were so upset
by all this brotherly love, situational or not, that in 1645
the French governor of Tortuga shipped hundreds of prostitutes
to the ports of the new world, which fairly naturally led
to a spike in threesomes, rather than a dip in the DL. Edward Teach, a.k.a. Captain Blackbeard, was arguably
the most terrifying pirate in the world. And he owes that cred
to a combination of hemp and psychological [HONK] –ery. He would weave the handy
little plant into his beard and under his hat,
then light it on fire. With the smoke
wafting from his head and smelling like the
wrath of a stoner god, to say nothing of the
couple swords, pistols, and knives he
carried at all times, and those 40 cannons
he talked about, or the fact that he
regularly, willingly shoved a syringe up
his urethra, Blackbeard scared the absolute
shit out of everyone. Cut him up for the cap first. For as long as there
have been builders there have been griefers. Likewise, as long as humans have
been messing around with boats, pirates have been aggroing. It wasn’t all buried treasure
and grand theft hydro. You could also make a killing if
you grabbed the right hostage. In 75 BCE a group of pirates
captured Julius Caesar. But he was not, in
fact, the right one. When they demanded a
ransom of 20 talents– that’s somewhere around
$20,000 to $600,000– he laughed and told them
he was worth at least 50. He serenaded them with
poetry, had the ransom paid, then crucified everyone. Under the ever present threat
of scurvy, tetanus, syphilis, gangrene, and bodily
injury, veteran pirates could get pretty raggedy. Some of them were out
an eyeball or two, but others wore those
iconic eye patches to preserve their night vision. If you’ve ever
squeezed one eye shut to keep from stubbing
your toe on your way to the bathroom at 3:00
AM, you know exactly what we’re talking about. Even on modern ships, the
quality and intensity of light changes dramatically
above and below deck. And a pirate had to be
able to swash, and buckle, and navigate stairs
without breaking his neck. Credit for the
invention of grog goes to sailors in the
British Navy, who first started making the
drink sometime in the 1600s. No one wants to drink slimy
barrel water contaminated with algae and microbes just
raring to give you dysentery. But the life of the sea
doesn’t leave a lot of options. Rather than distilling
their urine or whatever, the sailors opted for the
kill it with fire strategy and just dumped a bunch
of booze in there. In 1731, that strategy
became official policy. The British Navy
gave each sailor half a pint of rum per day. That’s about five shots, folks. Par-tay. Pirates borrowed
the recipe for grog and made it legendary by
adding lemon juice, which helped prevent
scurvy, and sugar, which made the lemon barrel
water rum a little less foul. Truly, a drink to put
hair on your tongue and a tingle in your chest. Even though it’s easy to picture
a pirate burying treasure on a tropical island,
there was literally one guy who actually did it. Captain William Kidd
of the adventure galley deposited his loot off
the coast of Long Island. This backfired horribly
when a not so good buddy dug it up and used it as proof
to convict Kidd of piracy, and get him hanged
twice, and gibbeted. Pirates didn’t bury
treasure for good reason. Almost none of the actual
booty was ever gold and jewels. Pirate swag tended to be made
up of food, alcohol, weapons, lumber, cloth,
hide, anything you might find on a trade
ship in the Atlantic. And there was no reason not
to sell them immediately, and every reason, as poor Billy
found out, not to bury them. Piracy was more than a bit
of a bad old boy’s club. So the few women who
crashed that club had to be smarter, meaner,
and tougher than hell. Anne Bonnie, for example, served
aboard the pirate ship Revenge as the awesomely named
Captain Calico Jack Rackham’s first mate and lover in 1720. Her friend, Mary Reid, served
as well, dressed as a man. Their careers ended when
the ship was captured and they went to jail, for
which Bonnie blamed Calico Jack. She cursed him
after his execution, saying, sorry to see you there. But if you’d fought
like a man, you would not have been
hanged like a dog. While there is some
evidence pirates did use walking the plank as a form
of psychological torture, there was not evidence to prove
it was widespread practice. It got its roots not in fact,
but in the rise of pirate mania in 19th century entertainment. Have you any last words before
you walk the plank, sir? People don’t walk the plank! Pirates got really creative
when they off people. And they weren’t
averse to torture. But most of them were
just ready to be done. Quick and clean was the rule. Actually, the most common
form of death by torture involved something much
worse than a plank. It was called keelhauling. And it’s absolutely savage. You throw the victim
under the boat. Then you hoist him
up one side, pass him under the ship’s keel, which
will be covered in barnacles sharp enough to
unzip your flesh, and then secure a weight to
his legs to keep him underwater while the ship drags
him to his end. If he’s lucky, maybe
the blow from the keel will be enough to kill
him before he drowns. Very cold, pirates. The first mention
of the Jolly Roger comes out of the A General
History of the Pirates by Charles Johnson in 1724. But there are a few
different versions of it. Your alternative
pirate flag might have red skeletons, hourglasses,
men standing on skulls. You see the pattern here. Blackbeard’s flag,
for example, had to be as hardcore
as the man himself. He settled on a skeleton
toasting the devil while spearing a bleeding heart,
because that’s how he rolled. We can’t help but
feel like a syphilis syringe would have been
even more chilling, though. The Jolly Roger flag that
flew from pirate masts was terrifying before
it was a cliche. But the most dreaded sea
flag was red, not black. A ship hoisting a red
flag warned its enemies that no mercy would be
given to a captured ship. Everyone on board would
be slaughtered on sight. The flag was called
the bloody red. And if it went up, sailors,
even other pirates, under siege would, more often than not,
say, no thanks, and jump ship. Talking of cold mofos, pirates
did historically maroon people when they did
something wrong enough. It was one of the worst death
sentences you could get, because it was slow. Typically those marooned
were the big time screw ups, disgraced
pirates who violated the rules of their ship. They were dumped on
an isolated sandbar with just the clothes
on their backs, a small portion of water, and a
weapon for short term survival. And if they were
cowards, you know– It’ll be one pistol as before. And you can be the gentleman
and shoot the lady, and starve to death yourself. Some men actually managed
to survive being marooned. Another pirate crew might
discover and rescue them. But as you could imagine,
it didn’t happen very often. The Atlantic is a big place. And since pirates
don’t bury treasure, there’s not a lot
of impetus to go sniffing around desert islands. So what do you think? Any of these facts surprise you? Let us know in the
comments below. And while you’re at it, check
out some of these other videos from our Weird History.

100 Replies to “13 Bizarre Pirate Traditions Most People Don’t Know About”

  1. Or playing the part in the 1982 Christy Mcnichol and Chistopher Atkins "The Pirate Movie". Oh I would have loved to play that!

  2. Buccaneer bling. Lol. Excellent turn of a phrase. Btw..my grandmother lived right on the coast in Morehead City NC where the wreckage of Queen Anne's Revenge is located.

  3. Oh yeah this video also forgets to mention that pirate's are also dripping in bitche's alday and are smoking and drinking all the best stuff that the world has to offer so theirs also that
    Uh no yeah I think pirates are better then half the worlds population and this video is completely wrong these are the best type of people in the world and everything you want within leadership and value with in a class or type of people with in social structure

  4. I read that pirates were some of the first recorded anarchists. The black flag (also flown to represent anarchism) was flown on pirate ships because it is the opposite of a white flag. The black flag means no surrender. And from what I understand pirates were known more to attack government vessels

  5. man, I will keep saying this: your content is SO GOOD. You should have chance on tv or something. (try asking national geographic)

  6. So the line- “I’m here to plunder your booty” wasn’t just some Hollywood fan fiction in a bad movie? Gotcha

  7. David Cordingly's "Under The Black Flag" disputes the idea that homosexuality was a common practice among Pyrates. He claims that the idea that the study that concluded that Pyrates commonly engaged in homosexual relations came from comparing pirates to prison inmates, where gay relations were more common. Cordingly states that many pirates were ex-Navy, and navy men in that time were concerned about being "manly" and saw homosexuality as detestable. Of course, there were definitely gay pirates, but the idea that it was common practice cannot be proven.
    And obviously, I mean no offense toward my LGBT friends. Love you guys.
    Great video! Keep it up!

  8. Pirates literally kidnapped the wrong fucking guy
    Caesar made them Christian's symbols before there was a christ

  9. There were two legitimate buried pirate treasures found. One was various people recovering gold and turning it over to the British government for their share, but it is speculated the majority of the gold was found by a guy named Creque, a fisherman. The treasure was in a cave on Norman Island in the British Virgin Islands, more well known by Robert Lewis Stevenson's Treasure Island book. The Creque family owns a large part of downtown St. Thomas USVI, there is an ally way named after them.

  10. I did not know pirates were raging homosexuals, lmao gona be a good story to tell , esp about all the prostitutes the french sent 😂👍

  11. Nice vid.I have tip too for some real pirate drink you can made:(its from book I have)
    -black beer
    Just put all in glass and stir it.
    But I never tried it 😀

  12. One interesting tidbit about pirate culture: in an era when blacks were enslaved by the Europeans, they were actually free and treated as equals within the pirate ships and communities.

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