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Pirate women, freedom in the southern seas

None of these four women came to captain a ship, but they all slammed their life and raised their voice in a violent world that excluded them

Reproduction of an image of Mary Read © Cordon Press

In some cases The boundary between the pirate woman and the pirate woman is confusing. During the golden age of the Corsican, enter the 17th and 18th centuries, his activity was regulated by codes like the one he wrote Bartholomew Roberts.

In all its variants, one of the articles invariably followed this model: “Children and women are not allowed on the boat. If a man were found seducing anyone of the opposite sex and wearing her in disguise, he would suffer death. ”

For the pirate, A woman on board meant bad luck and conflict. However, as Roberts' code reflects, the moorland often led sailors to pass their lovers through partners.

Anne Bonny and Mary Read © Getty Images

When the trap was discovered, the woman had to overcome the category of object to be accepted. The imposition of the captain was not enough. He could not break his own rules. The agreement should be tacitly produced between the crew.

And the only way to reach that agreement was to be more man (more violent, more ruthless) than any of those around her. Something like the woman who today reaches a high position in a large company.

This principle is clearly expressed in the first written mention of the pirate woman in the Gesta Danorum, a 12th-century Danish chronicle: "To these sailors, who had the body of a woman, nature granted the souls of men." Little else needs to be said.


It is likely that Anne 'God-Wants It' She was deported from France on criminal charges to Tortuga Island, north of Haiti, around 1680. The French had given the place to the buccaneer Bertrand d'Ogeron as free port for captains assaulting English and Spanish colonies and ships.

There Anne married a privateer who, according to legend, was killed by another privateer, Laurens de Graaf. Enraged, Anne challenged him to a duel. When he had disarmed him, De Graff proposed to him. In another version, De Graff only insulted her and she responded with the famous duel. In any case, He married him and joined his crew on an expedition in which they sacked the ports of Jamaica.

Anne Bonny © Cordon Press

The response of the English was to attack Port-de-Paix, in front of Tortuga, where Anne was captured with her children. She was released after three years of captivity and met with De Graff. At this point the testimonies about both are lost. They are likely to take refuge in Louisiana, under the protection of French colonial authorities.


Anne Bonny was born around 1700. I was illegitimate daughter from an Irish County Cork lawyer and a wife's maid. The lawyer escaped with his lover to London claiming professional reasons and there, To hide Anne, he dressed her in male clothes and put her through his assistant. His wife discovered the trick and suspended the assignment on which he depended. In search of new horizons, the new family crossed the Atlantic and He settled in the colony of Carolina, where he prospered.

Mary Read was also an illegitimate daughter. His mother, a widow, had a son who died after the death of her husband. To maintain the pension that his political family sent him, He passed Mary through his stepbrother. This assumed its gender and, under the name of Mark, He enlisted in the English Navy to fight in the Nine Years War.

Among the Dutch allies he met a soldier he married. He ran a tavern with him near Breda until he died suddenly. Mary did not hesitate to retake her masculine identity and embark on the West Indies. When, during the journey, his ship was assaulted by pirates, he joined the crew.

Mary Read visits Calico Jack in jail © Getty Images

Anne, meanwhile, had been disinherited and expelled from home because of her marriage to a small-scale sailor: James Bonny The English equivalent of Turtle was installed in New Providence, in the Bahamas Islands. There James worked as an informant for the governor about the activity of the privateers. Anne gravitated toward her husband's spy object and escaped with John Rackham, Calico Jack, who made her go through a man.

That was when Mary Read enlisted in Rackham's ship. His encounter with Anne and the consequent anagnórisis (or revelation of her feminine condition) tends to the novel. Supposedly, the secret was between them and Rackham. According to one of his victims, both were dressed in jackets, long pants and a headscarf. It has been speculated on all kinds of combinations between them and the pirate.

The trio was dedicated to devalue the Caribbean until his boat was captured one night in which the sailor was so drunk that he did not resist.After a summary trial in Jamaica, Rackham was executed at Gallows Point and his corpse exposed in a cage in Port Royal.

The death sentence of Mary and Anne was postponed because they were pregnant. Mary died in prison. Anne survived, but her trail is lost. It could be released. Some researchers argue that he returned to Carolina.

Character from one of the films of 'Pirates of the Caribbean' inspired by Ching Shih © D.R. ('Pirates of the Caribbean')


If pirate women had to choose a leader, this would undoubtedly be Ching Shih. He met the privateer Cheng I in a small brothel in the city of Guangzhou and married him in 1801. Since his marriage, He played an active role in climbing a fleet that, through alliances, it reached 1,800 vessels and a force of 70,000 men; an army in its own right in the South China Sea.

The confederation demanded tribute to the coastal populations in exchange for protection. The resistance was punished with punitive expeditions that extended to large cities and colonial enclaves such as Macao. The Portuguese and British ships, as well as those of the Qing Empire, were stripped of their merchandise and their sailors sold as slaves.

When Cheng I died, Shih was made with the support of the captains and attracted the young protected from her husband, who became her lover and second in command. He severely applied the code that regulated the distribution of the loot and extended it with rules that protected the captives. He punished with death the rape of imprisoned women. When the sailors wanted to take one of them as a wife or concubine, they were forced to formalize it in a contract. In case of cohabitation, the man was beheaded and the woman thrown into the sea with a cannonball attached to the feet.

Ching Shih knew how to retire on time. A series of defeats against the Portuguese made him see the need for a negotiated exit. The confederation was dissolved and he was allowed to keep a part of his fortune, with which he set up a gambling house in Guangzhou, his hometown.

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