Pirate Empowerment the Life of Term Paper

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He shall have an equal title to the fresh provisions or strong liquors at any time seized, and shall use them at pleasure unless a scarcity may make it necessary for the common good that a retrenchment may be voted.

ARTICLE III - None shall game for money either with dice or cards.

ARTICLE VI - No boy or woman to be allowed amongst them. If any man shall be found seducing any of the latter sex and carrying her to sea in disguise he shall suffer death.

ARTICLE VII - He that shall desert the ship or his quarters in time of battle shall be punished by death or marooning.

ARTICLE VIII - None shall strike another on board the ship, but every man's quarrel shall be ended on shore by sword or pistol in this manner. At the word of command from the quartermaster, each man being previously placed back to back, shall turn and fire immediately. If any man do not, the quartermaster shall knock the piece out of his hand. If both miss their aim they shall take to their cutlasses, and he that draweth first blood shall be declared the victor.

Pirate Code of Conduct)

The democratic regime of the successful pirate ship is also illustrated by the following article. "ARTICLE IX - No man shall talk of breaking up their way of living till each has a share of l,000. Every man who shall become a cripple or lose a limb in the service shall have 800 pieces of eight from the common stock and for lesser hurts proportionately." (Pirate Code of Conduct)

This shows that there was a clear sense of sharing and equality among the pirates that was not only essential for the ordered running of the ship but also ensured that the pirate crew felt protected against misadventure and casualties.

Punishments, as have already been mentioned, were often meted out in strict accordance with any breach of the code of conduct.

It was often swift and merciless, as the following article illustrates. "That Man that shall strike another whilst these Articles are in force shall receive Mose's Law (that is 40 stripes lacking one) on the bare Back." (Wilczy-ski)

4.3. The power structure in the pirate community.

The chain of command in the pirate hierarchy was more of a functional aspect than it as was a privilege. This is well illustrated in another article from the code of conduct. "Every man shall obey civil Command; the Captain shall have one full share and a half in all Prizes; the Master, Carpenter, Boatswain and Gunner shall have one Share and quarter. "(Wilczy-ski) This shows that there was a chain of command with certain difference and privileges.

However, the point is also reiterated in many studies on piracy that the captain and the pirate power structure were essentially democratic and could be changed at any time. The captain was elected and led because of his abilities and not merely because he held the position of captain of the ship. Power was therefore heavily dependent on ability.

Contrary to the book Treasure Island, Most Captains didn't command by an iron fist, they commanded because of skill, daring, and the ability to win prize and booty. The Pirate ship elected its Captain through a vote. If the Captain fell in disfavor The crew were just as quick to maroon their captain, or throw him overboard, or perhaps if he were lucky they would just let him off at the nearest port...it is safe to assume that if a Captain had a bad cruise with little to show for it and the end of it, it would be difficult for him to raise a new crew in the future.

Pirate's Life)

In fact many studies show that the captain had very little real authority beyond his personal abilities and was often only really in command in time of battle. "... The Captain never had the last say, except perhaps in the midst of battle. In fact at certain times, the Captain had no more power than every other pirate on board. When not in battle or preparing to fight, quite often the Quartermaster might actually be in charge of the ship." (A Pirate's Life)

Contemporary literature and film do not often refer to this intense sense of democracy that influenced the power structure on most pirate ships. The following quotation illustrates the democratic process and the actual rather than the fictional role of the captain.

Important matters such as where the ship might sail, or rather or not to put into port, or if a certain ship should be engaged and so on, were quite often not up to the Captain. These pressing details were decided by vote, with the majority ruling. If the Captain were to go against the vote, then he too would be in violation of the Articles of Piracy, and would most likely step down from command and new leader would be chosen.

Pirate's Life)

In the final analyses the empowerment process in the typical pirate ship was a democratic one. This process of democratic empowerment is equally true of the Caribbean buccaneers. It is claimed that these pirates even created a very egalitarian and democratic society. "Thus, if anything, the buccaneers appear to have created and administered a more egalitarian and equal society than any in Europe at that time. " (Buccaneers, Pirates and Privateers)

Therefore while there was a structure of command and control in the pirate community which extended from the captain to the quartermaster downwards, yet this structure was not fixed to set in stone. Rather the rules of conduct which were democratically drawn up and the rules of the pirate world were the real power structure which all, including the captain had to adhere to.

Works Cited

Pirate's Life. 16 November, 2006. http://blindkat.hegewisch.net/pirates/capcrew.html

Buccaneers, Pirates and Privateers. 16 November, 2006.

Pirate Code of Conduct. 16 November, 2006. http://www.elizabethan-era.org.uk/pirate-code-conduct.htm

Piracy, Then and Now. 16 November, 2006. http://blindkat.hegewisch.net/pirates/piracy.html

Vallar C. Oh To Be A Pirate. 16 November, 2006. http://www.cindyvallar.com/bepirate.html

Wilczy-ski K. Facts of Piracy. 2006. http://www.piratesinfo.com/detail/detail.php?article_id=55

What's a Privateer, Pirate, Buccaneer, and/or Marooner? 16 November, 2006. http://blindkat.hegewisch.net/pirates/diff.html

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