About concepts
About concepts

Pirates. This word was pronounced at different times with different feelings: with delight, benevolently, with horror … Types of pirates: pirate, filibuster, buccaneer, boucanier, bucanier, buccaneer, corsair, marque, privateer, privateer, pecheling or flexeling, dolopians, dolopians

Pirates. This word was pronounced at different times with different feelings: with delight, benevolently, with horror … The living conditions of society changed - the attitude towards piracy, one of the most ancient human trades, changed.

The word pirat (in Latin pirata) comes from the Greek peirates, with the root peiran (to try, test). Thus, the meaning of the word would be "one who tries his luck." Etymology testifies to how shaky the border between the professions of the seafarer and the pirate was from the very beginning.

This word came into use around the 4th-3rd centuries BC, and before that the concept of "leistas", known to Homer, and closely related to such matters as robbery, murder, and prey, was used.

Let's define here the basic terms that will be used by me on this site.

Pirate - a sea robber in general, of any nationality, who at any time robbed any ships of his own free will. Pirate is an outlaw person. All nations persecute him, and he attacks everyone. In times of peace, many filibusters actually became simple pirates, but still continued to follow the commissions issued to them. Some became planters or farmers in anticipation of the coming war. To the delight of filibusters, wars went on one after another almost without interruption throughout the entire 17th century.

Pirat is a sea robber in general, of any nationality, who at any time robbed any ships of his own free will
Pirat is a sea robber in general, of any nationality, who at any time robbed any ships of his own free will

Filibuster - a sea robber of the 17th century, who plundered mainly Spanish ships and colonies in America. The word comes from the Dutch "vrijbuiter" - "free invader of trophies", since the first settlers in San Domingo (after the Spaniards) were from the Netherlands. In French this word sounds like "flibustier". And no matter how the British try to draw the origin of this word to their "freebooter", they have nothing to do with it, except perhaps the usual phonetic similarity.

The filibuster was always provided with a special authorization paper from the government of the colonies of the country for which he fought. It was called a commission, not a privateer patent. The lack of a commission made the filibuster an ordinary pirate, so filibusters always tried to get it. It was given only during the war of one country against another, and, in contrast to the privateer patent, it was precisely prescribed in it which ships and colonies the owner had the right to attack and in which port to sell his trophies. That is, the commission can be considered a one-time permission for robbery with very strict conditions, so it was much easier to get a commission for a privateer patent. The governors of many small islands of the West Indies, whose colonies existed practically without any help from their metropolises, gladly issued such papers to any captain for money.

Thus, the filibuster is a mercenary, however, unlike the latter, he was not paid. His payment was only the trophy of the enemy nation, which he mined himself, and which he had to sell in the place where he received the commission. He paid a share to the governor of a friendly nation, which in return allowed him to officially use refuge in all ports of all his colonies. Frequently, filibusters' captains had several commissions from different nations, which allowed them to choose who to attack at a given moment, which, however, was never considered piracy.

Boucanier (from French - boucanier) is not a professional sailor, but a hunter of wild cows and pigs. If buccaneers are often confused with pirates, it is only because the British called all filibusters buccaneer (“buccaneers” - see below). The British captured Jamaica half a century later than this French word appeared, so they little understood its meaning, and could not really pronounce it. Buccaneers got their name from the word "bukan" - a lattice made of raw green wood, on which they smoked meat that did not spoil for a long time in the tropics (meat cooked in this manner was also often called "bukan"). And in the skins of animals, they evaporated sea water in the sun and in this way extracted salt.

Dutch, French and English ships often entered the bays where the buccaneers lived to exchange their beech and skins for guns, gunpowder and rum. Since Sao Domingo, where the buccaneers lived, was a Spanish island, the owners were not going to put up with unauthorized settlers, and often attacked them. However, unlike the local Arawak Indians, whom the Spaniards had completely exterminated a hundred years earlier with the help of guns and dogs, buccaneers were much more formidable fighters. They bred a special breed of large hunting dogs that could gnaw several Spanish ones, and their guns were of such a large caliber that they could stop a running bull with one shot. In addition, the buccaneers were free and courageous people, always responding with attack for attack, and not only on land. Armed with a short gun (4 feet), a short sword, two or more pistols, a machete and a butcher knife, they fearlessly attacked Spanish ships and settlements in fragile boats and pies.

Buccaneers ordered their special models of large-caliber rifles in France. They handled them very deftly, quickly reloading and producing three wounds, while a soldier of the colonial army did only one. The buccaneer's gunpowder was also special. It was made to order only in the French Cherbourg, where special factories were built for this. This gunpowder was called "poudre de boucanier". The buccaneers kept it in jars made of pumpkins or in bamboo tubes sealed at both ends with wax. If you insert a wick into such a pumpkin, you get a primitive high-explosive grenade.

Filibusters adopted a lot from buccaneers. So, during an attack on Spanish ships, they climbed onto the shrouds and killed all the gunners on the deck with well-aimed fire, then threw grenades at it and took it on board.

Buccaneer is an English filibuster. Since the English found it difficult to pronounce "filibuster", they preferred the word "bucan" - buccaneer, with little understanding of what was actually meant by this word.

A corsair, unlike a filibuster, a corsair has always fought only for his own country, or at least only for one country
A corsair, unlike a filibuster, a corsair has always fought only for his own country, or at least only for one country

Corsair - the word appeared at the beginning of the XIV century from the Italian "corsa" and the French "la corsa". Unlike the filibuster, the corsair always fought only for his country, or at least only one country, did not live or operate outside his country, always limited himself to actions only at sea, and never conducted operations on land. Rather, he is close to a patriot, driven, apart from the greed for profit, by the desire to help his country. During peace, a corsair could be a simple rich shipowner, but during the war he armed the ship with his own money and offered his services to the state, receiving the necessary documents. By the way, there were such rules on land, where any aristocrat could recruit a regiment or company with his own money and become its commander. In Europe, the word "corsair" was practically international: corsair (French), corsaro (it.), Corsario (Spanish), corsair (Portuguese).

Capper - a private person who has received a license from the state to seize and destroy ships of enemy and neutral countries in exchange for a promise to share with the employer. Such a license was called Letter of Marque - Patent for privateering. The word "caper" is quite ancient, it has come into use in the Mediterranean since about 800 BC. The caper differed from the corsair in that he could act not at all on the side of his state, but on the side of the one whose patent he managed to obtain.

Privateer is just the English name for a privateer. In the Middle Ages, both terms were used. The word "privatir" is not so ancient, its first documented use dates back to 1664. Sometimes the term "privatir" wanted to emphasize the English nationality of the privateer, although this was not always observed, for example, the well-known "privates of Dunkirk" were of Dutch nationality, and were on the side of Spain. It's just that their main target was precisely the English merchant ships, so the British called them privatires, not privateers.

Pecheling or flexeling - this is how the Dutch privateers were called in Europe and the New World. The name came from the main port of their base - Vlissingen (later replaced by Dunkirk). This term appeared somewhere in the mid-1570s, when experienced and hardy Dutch sailors who called themselves "sea rogues" began to gain great fame all over the world, and tiny Holland became one of the leading maritime countries.

In addition to the terms listed above, which appeared at a rather late time, there were also more ancient names for pirates. One of them - tjekers, denoting Middle Eastern pirates in the 15th – 11th centuries BC. I have come across several different Latin spellings of tjekers: Tjeker, Thekel, Djakaray, Zakkar, Zalkkar, Zakkaray. In 1186 BC. they virtually conquered all of Egypt and waged extensive sea robbery along the Palestinian coast for several centuries. Current historiography believes that the Tjekers came from Cilicia, the future homeland of the formidable Cilician pirates. The tjekers are described in some detail in the Wenamon papyrus. Later, (sometime before 1000 BC) the Tjekers settled in Palestine, in the cities of Dor and Tel Zaror (near the present city of Haifa). Since they are not mentioned in Jewish documents, they were most likely swallowed up by the more numerous Philistines.

Around the 5th century BC, another name for pirates came into use in the Mediterranean - Dolopians … This time these are ancient Greek pirates, the main area of their action was the Aegean Sea. Perhaps originally from northern and central Greece, they settled on the island of Skyros and lived off piracy. Shortly before 476 BC. a group of merchants from northern Greece accused the Dolopians of having sold them into slavery after plundering their ship with goods. The merchants managed to escape, and they won a lawsuit at Delphi against the Skyrians. When the Skyrians refused to return their property, the merchants turned to Simon, the commander of the Athenian fleet, for help. In 476 BC. Simon's naval forces captured Skyros, expelled or sold the Dolopians into slavery, and created an Athenian colony there.

From whom were the ranks of the pirates recruited? They were not homogeneous in composition. Various reasons prompted people to unite in a criminal community. There were adventurers here too; and outlawed avengers; travelers and researchers who made a significant contribution to the study of the Earth in the era of the great geographical discoveries; bandits who have declared war on all living things; and businessmen, who considered robbery to be ordinary work, which, given a certain risk, gave a solid income.

Among the pirates were adventurers, outlawed avengers, travelers and explorers, bandits and businessmen
Among the pirates were adventurers, outlawed avengers, travelers and explorers, bandits and businessmen

Most often, pirates operated not far from the coast or among small islands: it is easier to get closer to the victim unnoticed and easier to get away from the pursuit in case of some kind of failure.

Today it is difficult for us, spoiled by the successes of civilization and the achievements of science and technology, to even imagine how immeasurably great were the distances in the age of absence of radio, television and satellite communications, how distant parts of the world seemed in the minds of people of that time. The ship was leaving the harbor, and communication with it was interrupted for many years. What happened to him? The countries were divided by the most terrible barriers of competition, wars and enmity. The sailor disappeared from the country for several decades and inevitably became homeless. Returning to his homeland, he no longer found anyone - relatives died, friends forgot, no one was waiting for him and no one needed him. Truly brave were those people who risked themselves, going into the unknown on fragile, unreliable (by modern standards) boats!

Illustrations from the book about the pirates by Howard Pyle.

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