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What boy did not play pirates as a child? It seems so romantic - to capture other people's ships in distant seas, experiencing dizzying adventures. At the same time, the most successful ladies-pirates sought the unofficial status of "queens".
Such women turned out to be no less brave, cunning, and sometimes cruel than the most famous corsairs of that time. The most famous ladies who have chosen such a dangerous, but also romantic craft, will be discussed.
Alvilda (V century). This woman in the history of piracy is one of the first known representatives of the weaker sex. Alvilda has been carrying out robbery in Scandinavian waters since the early Middle Ages. This woman's name appears in all popular piracy stories. Legends say that this woman was actually a princess, her father was a king from the island of Gotland. When the monarch decided to marry his daughter to Alpha, the son of the powerful king of Denmark, Alvilda decided to run away from home and become a pirate. On her predatory voyage, the Amazon recruited a team of young women like herself. The robbers changed into men's clothes, and Alvilda herself became the main robber in the local waters. Soon, the raids of a brave female pirate began to seriously threaten the merchant ships and residents of the coastal territories of the Danish kingdom, then Prince Alf himself was sent to fight the robbers. He had no idea that he would pursue his failed bride. After the prince killed almost all the pirates, he entered into a duel with their leader. The man was able to defeat the pirate and forced him to surrender. Alf was very surprised when, under the helmet, he found the young face of Alvilda, whom he wanted to marry. The girl appreciated the prince's bravery and his fighting skills, having agreed to marry him. The wedding was played on board a pirate ship. The young took vows to each other. The prince promised to love his chosen one forever, and Alvilda herself gave a vow to ever go to sea without a spouse. The veracity of this story can be questioned. Researchers found that for the first time the legend of Alvilda was told to his readers by the monk Saxon Grammaticus, who lived in the XII century. The mention of a female pirate is found in his "Deed of the Danes". The image of Alvilda was born either thanks to the myths about the Amazons, or the ancient Scandinavian sagas.
Jeanne de Belleville (1300-1359). If the image of Alvilda is semi-legendary, then the avenger Jeanne de Belleville became the first corsair really known from the point of view of history. Around 1335, Jeanne remarried a Brittany nobleman, Olivier Clesson. It was a turbulent time - the Hundred Years War was going on, and the country was torn apart by internal conflicts. Joan's husband was an accomplice in the conspiracy and was executed by order of King Philip VI. His loving wife decided to avenge her husband, vowing to do everything possible for this. Jeanne took her two sons, the eldest was only fourteen years old, and went to England. There she secured an audience with King Edward III. The monarch provided the avenger with a small fleet of three ships, he received the name "Fleet of Retribution in the English Channel." For several years this small flotilla plundered merchant ships, even attacking French warships. All the booty received was sent to England, and the surrendered sailors were simply destroyed. A brave woman personally went on ships at sea in search of prey, Jeanne was among the first to rush to board and lead the storms of coastal French castles. Eyewitnesses said that the female pirate was excellent with both a boarding ax and a saber. Jeanne de Belleville's fame spread throughout France, where she was nicknamed the bloodthirsty lioness. The parliament even passed a special decree on the expulsion of such a rebellious subject from the country and on the confiscation of all her property. The country's fleet was ordered to finally clear the English Channel of British pirates. Soon, Jeanne's flotilla was surrounded. She herself abandoned the pirates and set off in a small rowing boat with her sons towards England. For six days the sailors tried to reach the island, but the current constantly carried them out to sea. It turned out that the escape was made in such a hurry that the pirates forgot to take water and food with them. Six days later, de Belleville's youngest son died, and then several sailors. A few days later the unfortunates were carried to the shores of Brittany. Fortunately for Jeanne, she got to the associates of her deceased husband. Over time, the brave woman even remarried, the nobleman Gaultier de Bentley became her chosen one.
Lady Killigru (? -1571). This female pirate became a thunderstorm of the same English Channel about two hundred years after the story of Jeanne de Belleville. Lady Mary Killigru has managed to lead a double life. In secular society, the lady was known and respected as the respected wife of the governor, Lord John Killiger, who lived in the port city of Falmet. On the other hand, she secretly commanded pirates who plundered merchant ships in Falmet Bay. And such a tactic for a long time allowed the lady to act with impunity and secrecy. She just never left a living witness behind her. One day a Spanish ship entered the bay, heavily laden with goods. The captain and the crew did not have time to recover, as they were captured by pirates. The leader of the Spaniards managed to hide and was surprised to see that the corsairs were being commanded by a young, beautiful, but very cruel woman. The captain managed to escape from the captured ship and reach the shore. In the city of Falmet, he went to the governor to inform him of the pirate attack. Imagine the captain's surprise when he saw that very beautiful woman sitting next to the governor! But Lord Killigru controlled two fortresses, which were supposed to ensure the smooth sailing of merchant ships in the bay. Then the captain decided to remain silent and left for London. There he told a strange story to the king, who began his own investigation. Suddenly, it turned out that Lady Killigru had piracy in her blood - her father was the famous pirate Philip Wolvesten from Sofolk. The very same woman from an early age began to take part in the robberies of her father. Marrying a lord helped her achieve a position in society, as well as form her own pirate team. This is how Lady Killigru began to rob ships in the English Channel and coastal waters. The investigation found out exactly how some ships disappeared, which were previously considered to have disappeared due to mystical forces. Lord Killigru was convicted and executed for indulging his wife's interests. Yes, and the lady herself received a death sentence, later commuted by Queen Elizabeth I to not life imprisonment. Interestingly, ten years later, pirates again appeared in the English Channel under the command of Lady Killigru. This time the daughter-in-law of the executed lord was acting.
Grain (Granual) O'Malley (1533-1603). This pirate woman was, on the one hand, very brave, and on the other, cruel and insensitive towards her enemies. Grain was originally from an old Irish family, in which there were many pirates, corsairs, or just sailors. On the ships of the family fluttered a flag with a white seahorse and the inscription "Strong on land and at sea." According to the legends, Grain O'Malley was born in the same year (1533) with the English queen Elizabeth I. They write that the Irish woman even met her crowned contemporaries a couple of times, although in life the women fought with each other. From an early age, Grain showed a warlike character. When her father refused to take her to the sea for the first time, the girl cut off her luxurious hair - a symbol of female beauty. This is how her nickname "Bald Graine" appeared. On sea voyages, the girl also studied languages, she knew Latin perfectly. Soon the brave girl rallied herself the most selective pirates and corsairs and began to plunder the lands of people hostile to her clan. Grain decided to get rich this way. Over time, she either defeated her half-brother in battle and became the chieftain of the clan, or simply married the corsair O'Flaherty, leading his fleet. I must say that even being a pirate, Grain managed to give birth to three children. After the death of her husband in battle, the widow managed to keep her warlike fleet, besides, her relatives ceded the island of Clare to her for a pirate base. And the woman did not remain inconsolable. At first, Grain was comforted in the arms of a young aristocrat, Hugh de Lacey, fifteen years her junior. After him, the new husband of the brave woman was Lord Burke, nicknamed Iron Richard. The fact is that on the Mayo coast only his castle was not captured by her. This marriage lasted only a year. The pirate divorced in a very original way - she simply locked herself in the castle and shouted from the horse to Richard Burke that he was leaving him. Grain showed her rebellious character even in her meeting with Queen Elizabeth. At first she refused to bow to her, not recognizing the Queen of Ireland. Yes, and the rebel's dagger somehow managed to carry with her. As a result of that meeting, it was possible, if not to attract Grain to the royal service, then to conclude at least the appearance of a peace agreement. Over time, the pirate began its activities again, trying not to harm England. Graine O'Malley died in 1603, the same year as the Queen.
Anne Bonnie (1700-1782). And this native of Ireland managed to go down in the history of piracy. At the age of five, thanks to her father, lawyer William Cormack, she came to North America. This took place in 1705. And already at the age of 18, Ann was known as a beauty with a stormy and unpredictable temperament. She was considered an enviable bride and her father began to look out for rich grooms. But the girl met the sailor James Bonnie and fell in love with him. The father interfered with the relationship, which is why the young people got married and left for the island of New Providence. But love soon passed and Anne began to live with the captain of the pirate ship, John Rackham. He, in order not to part with his passion, dressed her in men's clothes and took her to his service as a sailor. Anne became a pirate of the sloop Dragon, which cruised between the Bahamas and the Antilles. In moments of boarding merchant ships, Anne amazed even the best pirates with her courage. She was merciless to enemies, rushing first into the thick of battle. And after the end of the battle, Anne personally dealt with the prisoners, doing it extremely cruelly. Even battle-hardened pirates were frightened by the sadism of a young sailor who, with or without him, grabbed a knife and a pistol. They did not even know that their comrade-in-arms was a woman. After some time, Anne became pregnant, and the captain dropped her ashore, leaving her in the care of his friend. Having given birth, the woman left her small child to the guardian and returned to the pirates. There she and the captain decided to tell the pirates the truth. And although the team remembered what a woman on a ship meant, especially a pirate one, the riot did not take place. After all, everyone remembered how bloodthirsty and cruel Anne was. And her behavior and advice often saved pirates. And in one of the attacks "Dragon" captured an English ship. Anne liked the young sailor Mack, who decided to sleep with him. But he, too, turned out to be a woman, the Englishwoman Mary Reed. She also became a pirate, no less famous than her friend. In 1720, Anne Bonnie, along with her accomplices, was caught. The execution of the woman was constantly postponed due to her pregnancy. They say that the father managed to ransom his unlucky daughter and return home. The storm of the seas once died in 1782, at a respectable age, giving birth to nine more children in a second quiet marriage.
Jaco Delachai (17th century). This lady led the activities of a French privatizer in the 17th century. And she was born in exotic Haiti, however, the girl's father was not a native, but French. In the history of piracy, Jaco Delahai remained a woman of extraordinary beauty. It is believed that she chose the path of a pirate after the death of her father. In fact, this was the only person close to her. The mother died during childbirth, and the older brother was mentally disabled, remaining in the care of his sister. Jaco Delachai had to board the ship of his sailor father and become a robber. This happened in the 1660s. Over time, to hide from the pursuers, the pirate faked her own death. At one time, Jaco changed her name and lived in a male guise. When she returned, she earned the nickname "Red from the Dead" thanks to her beautiful fiery red hair.
Anna Dieu-Le-Vaux (Mary Ann, Marianne) (1650-?). This French pirate woman was born in the middle of the 17th century. It is believed that she was taken from Europe to the colonial lands as a criminal. A woman appeared on Tortuga in 1665-1675, when the governor Bertrand Dogeron de La Bure ruled there. On this island, a famous pirate haven, Mary Ann married the corsair Pierre Lengs. In 1683, he died in a duel at the hands of the famous pirate Laurence de Graff. Then Marianne also challenged him to a duel. According to some information, the reason was not the death of a spouse, but personal insults. But the fight did not take place, Lawrence said that he was not going to fight the woman. But admiring her courage, he invited Marianne to become his wife. In fact, de Graff was already officially married, so Marianne became his concubine and mistress. You can really call Anna a pirate, since she followed her husband and fought alongside him everywhere. Ann Bonnie behaved in a similar way. However, unlike her, Dieu-Le-Vaux did not hide her gender, which is why she attracted attention to herself, causing universal respect and even admiration. It is believed that the pirate Marianne was brave, stern and merciless. She even got the nickname "Anna - God's will." And although it is believed that the woman on the ship brings misfortune, this did not concern Marianne. The pirates seemed to be in luck with her. In 1693, her husband took part in the capture of Jamaica, for which he received the title of Chevalier and the rank of senior lieutenant. But a year later, the British attacked Tortuga - Anna, along with her two daughters, was captured and remained hostage for three years. The family was reunited only in 1698. The fate of the pirates is then lost, it is said that they even became colonists in the Mississippi. But there is one interesting story dating back to 1704. There is evidence that it was then that Anna, along with her husband Lawrence, attacked a Spanish ship. The man was killed by a cannonball, then Marianne took command of the pirates. Unfortunately, the robbers turned out to be less, they lost the battle. All pirates were sent to hard labor, but the name of their leader turned out to be too famous. The news of Anna's arrest through the French naval secretary reached Louis XIV himself, who asked the Spanish king to intervene. As a result, the pirate woman was released. And one of her daughters lived in Haiti and became famous for defeating a man in a duel.
Ingela Hammar (1692-1729). This woman served as a privateer for the Swedish king Charles XII during his Northern War at the beginning of the 18th century. In 1711, a 19-year-old girl married the pirate Lars Gatenhilm, who officially received permission from the king to rob enemy merchant ships. But the privateer robbed everything that came his way.And her future husband Ingela knew her from childhood, their union had long been approved by her parents. This marriage was happy, five children were born in it. There is every reason to believe that Ingela was not just a beloved wife who was waiting for her husband on the shore, but also a faithful companion in his activities. Perhaps it was Ingela who was the brain of all Lars' cunning operations, was behind all his activities. Most of the operations were planned at the base in Gothenburg and were controlled from there. And in 1715, the family has already earned a huge fortune. In 1718, Lars died, and his privateering was inherited by Ingel. During the war, she further expanded her husband's privateer empire. It is no coincidence that the Swede was even nicknamed the queen of navigation. But after the conclusion of a peace agreement with Denmark in 1720 and Russia in 1721, there was no one to fight with. The former pirate remarried in 1722 and died in 1729. Ingela Hammar was buried next to her first husband.
Maria Lindsey (1700-1745). This Englishwoman was born in 1700 and her pirate activity is also associated with the name of her husband. Eric Cobham robbed ships in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and his base was located on the island of Newfoundland. The couple became famous for their cruelty on the verge of sadism. The pirates preferred to sink the captured ships, and all crew members were either killed or used as targets for shooting exercises. Such a career of corsairs lasted from 1720 to 1740. After that, the couple decided to start a new life in France. In Europe, the Cobham couple became respected in society, Eric even managed to get the post of a judge. But for Maria, such a sedate life was not to her liking, and she simply went crazy. Either the woman committed suicide, or her husband killed her. And before his death, Eric Cobham told about all his sins to the priest, asking him to tell everyone the story of his life. The book came out shameful and incriminating, and the descendants even tried to buy and destroy the entire circulation. But the copy remained in the national archives of Paris.
Rachel Wall (1760-1789). The death penalty has long been abolished in many American states. The last person to be hanged in Massachusetts was Rachel Wall. Perhaps the first American-born woman to become a pirate. And she was born into a family of devout believers in provincial Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Rachel didn't like life on a country farm, which is why she chose to move to the city. Once a girl was attacked in the port, and a certain George Wall saved her. The guy and the girl fell in love with each other and got married, although Rachel's parents were against it. The young people moved to Boston, where George became a sailor on a fishing schooner, and his wife became a servant. The family constantly did not have enough money, so George Wall suggested to his friends that they become pirates. First, the crew, along with Rachel, operated on Shoals Island, off the coast of New Hampshire. The girl on the deck of the schooner portrayed the victim of a shipwreck. When the lifeboats arrived there, the pirates killed and robbed them. In 1781-1782, the Walls, together with their accomplices, seized twelve boats and thus earned 6 thousand dollars and a bunch of valuables. 24 people were killed. But in the end, George Wall, like most of his team, died in a violent storm. Rachel had to return to Boston and resume work there as a servant. But the robber did not forget her past, from time to time robbing boats at the docks. And while trying to rob a young lady Margaret Bender, the bandit was caught. On September 10, 1789, Rachel Wall was convicted of robbery, but she asked to be tried as a pirate. The authorities agreed, although the woman did not kill anyone. On October 8, Rachel was hanged at only 29 years old.
Charlotte Badger (1778 -1816). There were female pirates in the history of Australia. Charlotte Badger, who was born in Worcestershire, England, is considered the very first. She also made history by becoming one of the first two white female settlers in New Zealand. An Englishwoman was born in a poor family, in order to feed herself, she began to engage in petty theft. In 1796, the girl was caught trying to steal a silk scarf and several coins. For this she was sentenced to seven years in hard labor in New South Wales, Australia. There she began working in a women's factory and even gave birth to a daughter. Together with the child in 1806, Charlotte boarded the Venera ship, planning to find work in the colonies. The captain of the ship, Samuel Chase, turned out to be a cruel man and liked to beat women with a whip just for fun. Badger, along with his girlfriend, also exiled, Katrin Hagerty, did not want to endure the sadist's bullying and persuaded the passengers to start a riot. Having seized the ship, the women, along with their lovers, headed to New Zealand, choosing the difficult fate of the pioneers. There is information that the rebels from "Venus", together with two women and their lovers, engaged in piracy. However, this venture quickly failed, because the rebels did not understand anything about seafaring. There is a story that the ship was captured by the Maori natives. They burned the ship by eating or killing the crew. Catherine Hagerty died of a fever, but the fate of Charlotte Badger, a loser pirate, remained unknown. It is believed that she managed to hide on the island, and then join the crew of an American whaling ship.