o picture yourself living in a sleepy Spanish colonial village in 1650 or so. Your occupations as a hunter/fisherman/cobbler brings in enough to keep your wife and brats fed. And then, one day, a sail appears.
With this, your pacific life ends. Crazed pirates storm ashore through the surf. Some people are butchered where they stand. And you, captured by them, can only watch as your wife (and possibly your children) are raped to death. And then you are tortured for the location your supposed wealth. Racked with pain and anguish, you look up at the blue Caribbean sky (framed by the grubby heads of pirates) as your life ebbs out.
There was so much bloodshed associated with the competing colonies of Spain, England, France and the Dutch Republic. People were thrown off ships. People were sodomized and raped. People suffered horrors and died in anguish, possibly but cutlass, possibly by starvation. Slavery was rampant. Institutionalized mercenary raids (i.e. letters of Marque) were widespread. The entire area of the Spanish Main was soaked in blood for a century.
Which is why I always find it a little off-putting when histories and such refer to it as “The Golden Age of Piracy”.
I guess this is because piracy has appeal to people who figure their souls have more adventure than their lives permit. Killing people for their money, giving sway to every brutal passion repressed, it’s something a hopeless schmuck dreams of. Oh, they won’t tell you that they’d like to rape a woman while the husband is forced to watch, living a dirty short life while sailing around the Caribbean. No, they’ll just give you the vague “I’d like to be a pirate” deal. That’s why they dress up as them, and why communities celebrate their “pirate heritage”.
Yeah, even “Talk like a pirate day”. It’s clever to say, “Arrgh, Maties”. It’s psychotic to say, “Ram the spit up his arse and turn him over a slow fire!”
Yet even Disney has a pirate ride (where you can see a Spanish town being G-rated pillaged). As Rick Sanchez put it, “My pirates are a little more rapey than that.”
The thing is, by embracing this, you embrace the barbaric nature of the act. You celebrate it.
Think I’m wrong? What would you say if I told you that 1840 was “the Golden Age of American Slavery”?