Happy Arrgust

Happy August to you. Or if you like pirate lore, Happy Arrgust to you. Popular society has long enjoyed making light of some of the worst villains who have ever pestered fair-playing, lawful mercantile traders. We realize that pirates of lore and in the present day, have been ruthless, cruel, greedy, murderous individuals. They have and still do roam the seas to hijack booty. In modern times, they prey upon unsuspecting, innocent victims on the Internet as scammers and other fraudsters. Yet, even with so much criminality, folks love to fantasize about olden-time pirates.

Perhaps one reason might be our innate human desires for adventure, danger, exploration, and thrills. These emotions have been distilled in the collective imagination into the one subculture of individuals more than most–pirates. This has been trending ever since the 1700s, the so-called “Golden Age of Pirates”. Despite their extreme criminality, they have symbolized our raw instincts for unbridled freedom and uninhibited behavior. As we know, even in the most free societies, there must be limits on license and thoughtless behavior so as to protect the common good. However, in the back of our minds, people sometimes ponder what it might be like to live in a culture with no restrictions.

“Yes, I do heartily repent. I repent I had not done more mischief; and that we did not cut the throats of them that took us, and I am extremely sorry that you aren’t hanged as well as we.”–anonymous pirate upon his execution.

“Give me freedom or give me the rope. For I shall not take the shackles that subjugate the poor to uphold the rich.–American pirate, John Goldenwolf

In the 18th century, many thousand American and European privateers and sailors became unemployed due to the end of the War of Spanish Succession. These individuals turned to the life of crime on the high seas near the coasts of North America, the Caribbean, Africa, and South Asia. As was common in the days before the invention of mass media, legends and embellished stories were told about the most daring, outrageous of the buccaneers. Such criminals as Black Bart, Blackbeard, Anne Bonny, Captain Kidd, and Calico Jack Rackham became household names.

By the middle of the 1700s the characters began to appear in published books. One of the most popular books at the time was “A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the Most Notorious Pyrates” by Daniel Defoe, who used the pen-name Captain Charles Johnson. Since then, more books, plays, and films have glorified the colorful swashbuckling adventures.

So, although we know that 18th century pirates were terrible felons, we are drawn like moths to a flame to the romanticized fantasy that they were mainly rowdies, ruffians, and uncontrollable free spirits. After all, romantic archetypes, even dark ones,, are appealing in our daydreams.


The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes the reputed wealthiest pirate of the 18th century, “Black” Sam Bellamy. “Damn ye, you are a sneaking puppy, and so are all those who will submit to be governed by laws which rich men have made for their own security.”

About swabby429

An eclectic guy who likes to observe the world around him and comment about those observations.
This entry was posted in cultural highlights, History, Meanderings and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Happy Arrgust

  1. Great historical facts and an entertaining share.

  2. Jaesjabber says:

    Thank you for that info! Never really given pirates much thought, but I certainly will now! Well put together abstract! You presented a topic I had never explored and I love to learn. Thank you.

  3. This is very interesting read about pirates and their appeal. Not all of them were seafarers though. They say people used false lights on the Outer Banks to cause shipwrecks that could be looted.

  4. Speaking of August, I can hardly believe that seven months have gone by. To me, this year is flying by as fast or faster than any I can recall.

  5. Klausbernd says:

    Thanks for sharing the very basic facts about piracy.
    I lectured about female (the more successful) and male piracy at the McGill University/Montreal. I find it most interesting analysing how pirates were and are seen in literature and film. The pirate – male and female – a the projection screen of modern people.
    All the best
    The Fab Four of Cley
    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
    Post Scriptum
    Here you’ll find an article about my research of female piracy (it’s in German)

  6. Pingback: Happy Arrgust – World Era

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