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5 ways pirates were way more modern than you realize.
We tend to think of pirates as bloodthirsty thieves, brutal rapists, and vicious murderers, concerned оnly with indulging their every whim and amassing as much wealth as possible, forever living at the expense of others. And this is absolutely true. However, in some ways, pirates were bizarrely ahead of the societal curve. In fact, some of their viewpoints would be heartily endorsed by the campus newspaper of a liberal arts college.
This article should be titled “5 reasons why Pirates were more modern than you think because you don’t know history”. Really, nothing modern or unusual there.
5. Medical insurance. Well, Morgan and several others became famous precisely because no оne else did what they had done. You see, piracy was not necessarily the first career оne though of, and any pirate crew had to have its share of tough, scary people with nothing to lose but it also had to include professional carpenters, metalworkers, blacksmiths, gunsmiths, navigators etc. They were usually people who could find a nice job elsewhere, so they needed some incentives. And voila, some captains decided to throw some medical insurance as a form of advertisement to make sure that the best crew around comes to him and not to his fellow captains. But this was also true for merchant fleet.
4. Matelots had no more to do with gay marriages than business partnerships or two-man police patrols. They were simply a means of organization, a kind of “backup”, that was pretty important when the sailors in question were experienced and needed by captain. It was also popular among other sailors of that era, so pirates simply did what everyone else was doing anyway. Homosexuality was not officially punished (remember that it was a severe crime in most societies) but “buggers”, especially the passive оnes were usually at the, nomen omen, butt end of all the jokes, as it usually happens in prisons. Pirates didn’t give a damn if they knew someone is a bugger, because in law-abiding societies, sodomy was frowned upon as was whoring, drinking, gambling, cursing and stealing, so pirates, who were partial to all those fine vices tended to be much less judgemental.
3. As noted numerous times below, Crusades were dead and gone when the pirates started to roam the high seas, and the dealings with the people of other faith were pretty much the order of the day in many places, the best example Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Furthermore, merchants and entrepreneurs were dealing with various people оn a daily basis, so merchant republics like Venice, Genoa (and, to some extent, also Novgorod) seen nothing bad in dealing with Muslims or pagans, mainly because ideology is nice, but it won’t buy anything. And pirate captains were shrewd entrepreneurs.
2. No, pirates were not “equal opportunity” employers, not even close (this is why pirate females were so renowned – they were extremely rare). Again, “gender roles” is more or less an idea concocted in the times of Industrial Revolution. Prior to that, women were usually free to run their husbands’ affairs and if they possessed the skill, they could have run their workshops and belong to the craft. Please note that Chin Shih and Anne Bonny were wifes of the captain and took the business after their demise. This was order of the day for any craftsman family since Middle Ages, really. And while we’re at it, Elizabeth I, Mary Therese, Catherine the II and Victoria I would be amused (well, the last оne maybe not so) hearing of the “unusual feat of commanding 200 men”.
1. Believe it or not, but elections were much older than modern era, and I’m not speaking about Ancient Greeks. Since the Middle Ages, elections were pretty popular in any merchant community that wanted to make sure they are led by people who are proficient in making the whole organization wealthy. City councils were electing mayors, merchant republics were electing their leaders and crafts were electing their aldermen and members of the ruling bodies, usually in popular voting. Sure, country-wide, popular vote is relatively new idea but in smaller professional communities (and remember, pirate crew were exactly that) it was a really old tradition.
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