5 Infamous Pirates You've Probably Never Heard Of
Swashbuckling Buccaneers, whatever that means
Ever since people have been transporting goods across the sea, there have been those that plunder such goods by force. Through fire and bloodshed - maybe a couple of cannon balls too. As ships began to develop, the golden age of piracy began to rise. For many it was positive - spices and herbs of varying species could be transported to completely foreign areas. Exotic goods could be freely traded between people for the first time in history, but there existed those who were willing to take advantage of ships who appeared unprepared for this type of trade.
Number 5: Edmund Cooke
Edmund Cooke was an English pirate active around 1673. Cooke use to be a merchant who owned a 130 ton ship named 'Virgin', however it was stolen from him by an Irish pirate who declared that Cooke was transporting Spanish contraband. His captured ship was move to Havana where it was considered a token of justice well served. After this, Cooke swore his revenge and petitioned King Charles II for a privateering license. He was repeatedly denied, and caused havoc and mischief until 1679, even having rumoured to have started a mutiny on a trading ship he was on, capturing the ship and sailing it before being caught (and later pardoned). In 1679, he was caught again by the Spanish for transporting the same type of illegal logwood. Cooke knew that he would lose a battle on water, so he and his crew abandoned ship, and simply waited on the shores of Aruba for the Spanish ship to follow them. The Spanish disembarked and attacked Edmund and his crew, who promptly defeated them and captured their ship. Sailing his ship back to Jamaica, the hub of his illegal trafficking, he vowed revenge against the Spanish for once more testing his patience.
Joining a small fleet of ships lead by John Coxon and Bartholomew Sharpe, he set about privateering, this time finally equipped with a license to do so. The group would raid and capture ships travelling between Lima and Panama. Richard Sawkins was the leader of Trinity, the boat Edmund Cook was on. When Richard Sawkins was killed during a raid for a boat named Mayflower, Sharpe took lead of Trinity, and granted Cooke ownership of Mayflower. Cooke quickly came to realize the drawbacks of leadership , stepping down from the position, he continued to watch politics of the ship with much interest. The crew continued to raid Spanish ships for two years, with constant changes in leadership many accuse Cooke of being behind, often considered the driving force behind the many mutinies. With his anger satiated, he returned back to the Caribbean and is suspected to have continued his piracy.
Number 4: Thomas Cavendish
This man was actually the first person in the entire world to intentionally circumnavigate the entire globe.While there are some that have done that before, he is the only one to have done that as an intentional voyage. During this trip, was rewarded with plunders of Spanish gold, silk, and treasure. One of his largest hauls was a 600 ton ship named Santa Ana. This was was an incredibly expensive ship and the capture of it and his succesful circumnavigation, lead to him being knighted by Queen Elizabeth I. Seeing such success on his first journey, he set out once more on a second circumnavigation, but died in the process at 31. Afflicted by suffering brought on from his health problems, he was executed by one of his crew members. A lot of his history is shrouded in the havoc caused by bloodshed, as such he lived quite a short life.
Number 3: Jacques de Sores
Jacques de Sores was a French pirate in 1555 nicknamed 'The Exterminating Angel'. He was a former lieutenant of a pirate named 'Pegleg' on account of his actual wooden leg. Whichever pirate is in charge of making these nicknames really needs a promotion. De Sores lead a group of Protestant French pirates who attacked a northern Cuban city, and captured it with startling ease. He slaughtered many people in the process, partly due to frustration as he did not find the plethora of gold he was expecting to find within the city. He started ransoming members off, but these went largely unpaid which further irritated him. Sometime during the time this city was occupied, he staged a play meant to disparage the pope which he had running. He looted and burned most of the town, then him and pirate follower group known as the Huguenots, went out to massacre 40 Jesuit missionaries. Not much is known about what happened to Jacques de Sores after this, and most elements of his life still remain a mystery.
Number 2: Nicholas Van Hoorn
A man who was enlisted in the Dutch military services for a period of time, he worked hard until he accrued enough money to purchase his own ship. Not knowing much about running a crew, being a captain, or piracy in general, he chose to hire a band of rowdy thugs. A French Minister asked for his help in attacking the Spanish empire, and this eager crew was ready to set about testing themselves. Contrary to expectation, their success was repeated and overwhelming. They begun to terrorize the Spanish fleet, netting Van Hoorn a massive horde of money. Accidentally, he attacked a French ship which created some uncomfortable, but non-deadly terms between the French and him. Yes, Nicholas has arguments with entire countries, apparently.
Seeing a large convoy of Spanish ships guarding countless Spanish galleons, Van Hoorn managed to convince the Spanish king that the recent bad blood between him and the French made him want to switch sides. After Charles II agreed to this, Van Hoorn promptly seized the bounty with additional enforcement when out of sight. After that, he looked for other areas of employ to do with slaving. When those plans fell through, he started plundering West Africa for slaves and bounty. After getting tired of that, he tried to raid a city in Mexico, had an argument with one of his allies, dueled him, and then died from a minor infection. A fast end for someone living some recklessly.
Number 1: Wang Zhi
Wang Zhi was a Chinese pirate lord in the 16th century. He started off humbly trading salt by sea, until the Ming dynasty introduced maritime prohibitions which prevented privatized trading. This meant that Wang Zhi to lose all of his hopes, dreams, and ideas for the future. The network he created carried saltpeter, silk, and cotton to a lot of southeast Asia and Japan. The smuggling network particularly thrived, as the rules involving trade that the Ming Dynasty put forth were rather unagreeable for foreigners, which made their contraband items even more valuable.
Saltpeter, a vital ingredient for firearms was what sparked Wang Zhi's interest for the matchlock pistols themselves and the Portuguese trade behind them. Slowly, his fortune began to amass behind arms deals in addition to his other contraband items. He used this to hire Japanese fighters that would protect his cargo from rival gangs, and assassinate followers that he expected to be conspiring against him. He as well used these people to help him kill other pirate captains and bring their crew into his syndicate. In addition to that, he was a charismatic man, so much so that the island of Shuangyu idolized him and his pirate crew, offering to help as often as possible. This empire swelled to immense sizes until the outlawing of piracy forced him to retreat from the the Ming dynasty. After enough hiding, and the capture of his family, he was forced to surrender. Wang Zhi later was executed and his family reduced to the status of slaves.