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PIRATE CODE of CONDUCT
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Queen Anne’s Revenge was an early-18th-century ship, most famously used as a flagship by Edward Teach, better known by his nickname Blackbeard. Although the date and place of the ship’s construction are uncertain, it was originally believed she was built for merchant service in Bristol, England in 1710 and named Concord, later captured by French privateers and renamed La Concorde. After several years’ service with the French (both as a naval frigate and as a merchant vessel – much of the time as a slave trading ship), she was captured by Blackbeard in 1717. Blackbeard used the ship for less than a year, but captured numerous prizes using her as his flagship.
In May 1718, Blackbeard ran the ship aground at Topsail Inlet, now known as Beaufort Inlet, North Carolina, United States, in the present-day Carteret County. After the grounding, her crew and supplies were transferred to smaller ships. In 1996, Intersal Inc., a private firm, discovered the remains of a vessel that was later determined to be Queen Anne’s Revenge, which was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
Edward Teach (alternatively spelled Edward Thatch, c. 1680 – 22 November 1718), better known as Blackbeard, was an English pirate who operated around the West Indies and the eastern coast of Britain’s North American colonies. Little is known about his early life, but he may have been a sailor on privateer ships during Queen Anne’s War before he settled on the Bahamian island of New Providence, a base for Captain Benjamin Hornigold, whose crew Teach joined around 1716. Hornigold placed him in command of a sloop that he had captured, and the two engaged in numerous acts of piracy. Their numbers were boosted by the addition to their fleet of two more ships, one of which was commanded by Stede Bonnet; but Hornigold retired from piracy toward the end of 1717, taking two vessels with him.
Teach captured a French slave ship known as La Concorde, renamed her Queen Anne’s Revenge, equipped her with 40 guns, and crewed her with over 300 men. He became a renowned pirate, his nickname derived from his thick black beard and fearsome appearance; he was reported to have tied lit fuses (slow matches) under his hat to frighten his enemies. He formed an alliance of pirates and blockaded the port of Charles Town, South Carolina, ransoming the port’s inhabitants. He then ran Queen Anne’s Revenge aground on a sandbar near Beaufort, North Carolina. He parted company with Bonnet and settled in Bath, North Carolina, also known as Bath Town, where he accepted a royal pardon. But he was soon back at sea, where he attracted the attention of Alexander Spotswood, the Governor of Virginia. Spotswood arranged for a party of soldiers and sailors to capture him; on 22 November 1718 following a ferocious battle Teach and several of his crew were killed by a small force of sailors led by Lieutenant Robert Maynard.
Teach was a shrewd and calculating leader who spurned the use of violence, relying instead on his fearsome image to elicit the response that he desired from those whom he robbed. He was romanticized after his death and became the inspiration for an archetypal pirate in works of fiction across many genres.
The Republic of Pirates was the base or stronghold of a loose confederacy run by privateers-turned-pirates in Nassau on New Providence island in the Bahamas for about eleven years from 1706 until 1718. Although not a state or republic in a formal sense, it was governed by its own informal ‘Code of Conduct’. The activities of the pirates caused havoc with trade and shipping in the West Indies, until governor Woodes Rogers reached Nassau in 1718 and restored British control.
The era of piracy in the Bahamas began in 1696, when the privateer Henry Avery brought his ship the Fancy loaded with loot from plundering Indian trade ships into Nassau harbour. Avery bribed the governor Nicholas Trott with gold and silver, and with the Fancy itself, still loaded with 50 tons of elephant tusks and 100 barrels of gunpowder. This established Nassau as a base where pirates could operate safely, although various governors regularly made a show of suppressing piracy. Although the governors were still legally in charge, the pirates became increasingly powerful.
Davy Jones’ Locker is a metaphor for the bottom of the sea: the state of death among drowned sailors and shipwrecks. It is used as a euphemism for drowning or shipwrecks in which the sailors’ and ships’ remains are consigned to the depths of the ocean (to be sent to Davy Jones’ Locker).
The origins of the name of Davy Jones, the sailors’ devil, are unclear, with a 19th-century dictionary tracing Davy Jones to a “ghost of Jonah”. Other explanations of this nautical superstition have been put forth, including an incompetent sailor or a pub owner who kidnapped sailors.