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The Golden Age of Piracy (1650 – 1726) (W14:D1)


Piracy came mostly from hatred - caused by the government - against their enemy countries, and the lack of opportunity in their own country. Those countries with money were attacked by those with less; or that was how it was seen, which is why Spain was taken advantage of the most. Most privateers were Welsh, English, Dutch, Irish, and French. They were often private citizens, who commissioned ships to take vessels in the Mediterranean Sea, the Caribbean, Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, coasts of Africa, and all the coasts of Asia; basically, anywhere goods were being shipped, they were tasked with taking their cargo and later selling it in their native countries. Of course, because the government gave them permission, much of their treasure was turned over to royalty, as a commission. When the Kings of Spain and England agreed to a treaty, in 1650, those with permission were no longer allowed to attack their enemies, but were told to stop, yet were not given an alternative. To combat this lack of employment, these ships turned to piracy, and continued to attack their enemy countries’ ships and settlements, but now, also turned on their native countries. King Philip I was forced to offer all pirates a pardon, if they gave up their lives of theft, but because of the starvation and unemployment in these countries, there was nothing more for them to do. Many pirates accepted the pardon, but would later return to piracy. There were also loose coalitions of pirates, such as the Brethren of the Coast, who worked together in piracy, until one of them was caught. Most pirates were tried and hung for their piracy and theft, yet their names and legends would continue for years afterwards.


Activity: Time to Bury Treasure – Remember the escape room activity you did earlier? Well, today you will be doing a hunt for buried treasure, and you will be creating a map to help someone find some buried treasure.

Step #1: Find a prize for the players of your game. This could be toys, food, or some other type of prize.

Step #2: Find somewhere hard to find, and place the prize in an enclosed area - where they can’t see it in plain sight.

Step #3: Choose a route they will have to take, and put obstacles in their way that they will have to overcome.

Step #4: Draw a map of the classroom or that level of the house, including rooms and the obstacles in them.

Step #5: Create a dot or dash line for the trail they should take, to get from one location to the treasure.

Step #6: Place a big X over the spot where the treasure is, and then give that treasure map to your players. You may need to help them if they can’t find their way.

Step #7: Have fun and when it is all done, draw the same map, smaller, in the space below.



Edward Teach “Blackbeard” (1680 – 1718) (W14:D2)– There is not much known of his childhood, but what is known, is that he was educated in England and could read and write very well. It is speculated that he must have found his way to the Caribbean on a merchant vessel, or slave ship. He is thought to have joined privateer ships throughout the Caribbean, as a crewmember, and fought in the War of the Spanish Succession.


The privateers-turned-pirates, like Henry Jennings, turned a vacant island in the Bahamas into the port of New Providence. It was right in the way of the Spanish shipping lanes, and had a large harbor to house hundreds of ships, but was too shallow for the English and Spanish Navies to attack. This was a floating city without any laws, where only long-term residents lived on land.


After the Treaty of Utrecht was signed, Teach moved to New Providence, as a resident. In 1716, he joined Captain Hornigold, and Captained his smaller ship to capture Spanish ships with thousands of pounds of provisions. On his journey, he came upon Stede Bonnet, a wealthy landowner and military man who turned to piracy and captained a large vessel, the Revenge. His men disdained their captain, so they asked Bonnet if Teach could take over. Bonnet relented. Teach’s flotilla now consisted of three ships: Revenge, his flag ship; his old sloop; and Captain Hornigold’s Ranger. By this point, Teach began attacking ships and adding them to his army. Hornigold, as a previous British privateer, would not attack his comrades in British ships; so Teach demoted him and he soon returned to New Providence, accepting the King’s promised that if a pirate left piracy, they’d be pardoned.


Teach knew the importance of his appearance to his enemies; with a long black beard and black clothing, sometimes his captives recalled him wearing a trench coat with six guns on his chest, and a wide brimmed hat. He took on many names, including those of previous captives to confuse his enemies, but the one name he used mostly was that of Blackbeard. His goal was to strike fear into his enemies. He would not torture or brutalized them, though. Instead, he would ransack their ships, then put the crew back on board and let them go, to tell others of their fearful tale. At the same time, stories came out about him taking the crew of these ships to land, emptying the cargo hull, and burning the ships till they sank into the deep. He is also credited with flying the skull and crossbones, and other similar black flags, used solely to intimidate their enemies.


On November 28, 1717, Blackbeard and two of his ships attacked the French vessel, La Concorde, and took it as their own. After repairing the damage they had done to it, Teach renamed the ship Queen Anne’s Revenge, and made it his flagship, equipping her with 40 cannons. Rumor has it that, at this same time, Teach was waiting near Hispaniola for the Spanish Armada’s arrival, where he would take the gold sent to pay the garrison.


In May of 1718, Blackbeard took his flotilla of ships, sailed to the port of Charles Town, in the Province of South Carolina, and created a blockade of ships, demanding that any ship that passed through be searched and their valuable cargo to be seized. Some of the residents of Charles Town were taken prisoner. Blackbeard’s only goal in this blockade was to collect medical supplies and so, he sent one of the ship’s Captains back to town to collect them from the port, in exchange for the prisoners. There was a problem, though, for after the supplies were gathered, the pirate escort was found drunk in the nearby tavern, unable to function for a time. The cargo that Blackbeard received was Mercury, which was believed to be a cure for syphilis. He returned the residents almost entirely naked.


After Blackbeard received the medicine, he disbanded the blockade and departed. As the Queen Anne’s Revenge and his Sloop left, they ran aground, and a plan was dispatched to buy them time. This plan was to test the King’s pardon. Blackbeard sent Bonnet to Governor Eden, of the Providence of North Carolina, to ask for a full pardon, which he was granted. Teach was to go next, but when Bonnet returned, he found his men marooned and his ship stripped of its valuables. Bonnet sought revenge against Teach, and they pursued him North. Teach soon showed up in North Carolina and met with Governor Eden for that full pardon, which he was also granted. He was given a commission of privateer against the enemies of the British. The pardon did not last long, as Teach returned to piracy, and a warrant was issued.


In late 1718, Blackbeard took audience with a slew of other notorious pirates, including Charles Vane, Israel Hands, Robert Deal and Calico Jack. They were being pursued by Blackbeard’s old companion, Benjamin Hornigold. The Governors of Pennsylvania and Virginia took notice of this meeting and feared what this would mean, so they sent out warships to capture them. Not trusting the Governors of North and South Carolina, the other Governor commissioned the HMS Pearl, Jane, and Ranger to capture Blackbeard.


The Jane and Ranger were sent upriver to find Blackbeard, who was entertaining guests. Most of his crew and guests were on shore at the time. The Ranger ran aground, and Captain Maynard, of the Jane, commanded his men to attack Blackbeard’s ship, the Adventurer, by themselves. There, a battle ensued, with Blackbeard’s men boarding the Jane. Yet, to his surprise, he found that most of the Jane’s men were below deck, and when they came from below, the pirates were taken by surprise. Blackbeard and Captain Maynard began a battle with cutlasses, and just as Blackbeard took the upper hand, one of Maynard’s men stepped in and mortally wounded Blackbeard. The pirates quickly surrendered, and the battle subsided. Blackbeard’s head was taken back to Virginia, to claim the reward money. Blackbeard’s crew - on the ship and on land - were captured and shipped back to Virginia. When it was discovered that many of his men were black, Virginians asked for a lesser punishment for them. The men asked to be tried with their comrades and were hanged - all except for Israel Hands, who claimed he was pardoned.


Afterwards, Charles Town, now Charleston, sent out hunting expeditions against other notorious pirates, hanging at least 50 in 1718, alone, displaying their decaying bodies at the entrance of their harbors, to discourage sailors from picking the pirating way of life.


Activity: Pirate Cakes, Hardtack, or Survival Bread

This is a historic mainstay for sailors, pioneers, settlers, and soldiers, when traveling long distances. This is simple and easy, with ingredients that would store for a very long time - even up to a year, if stored correctly. Remember to soak the bread before consuming it.


Ingredients – Hardtack Recipe (Survival Bread)

● 2 Cups – Flour (all purpose flour)

● 3/4 Cup – Water

● 1 1/2 Teaspoons – Salt

Servings: 10-12 biscuits/crackers. Equipment required: Measuring cup & spoons, mixing bowl, whisk or wooden spoon, rolling pin, spatula, baking sheets, oven mitts, cooling rack, and oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Steps to mix and cook: 1) In a bowl, mix the flour, water and salt. 2) Mix until the dough is no longer sticky. Add more flour if it stays sticky (add until the stickiness stops). 3) Spread a little amount of flour on the counter and rolling pin, to keep the dough from sticking. Use the rolling pin to spread the dough out, until 1/2 inch thick. 4) Cut the dough in 3-inch squares. Poke narrow holes in each square, all the way through the top, with a fork or sharp, round item, like toothpicks. 5) Place the hardtack biscuits on a baking sheet. 6) Place the baking sheet into the oven, and bake 25-30 minutes. Use oven mitts to keep from burning yourself. 7) Turn over the hardtack, and bake another 30 minutes. 8) When they are a nice golden brown, take the pan out of the oven. Allow it to cool for 10 minutes on the pan, and then use the spatula to move the biscuits to a cooling rack. 9) Eat immediately afterwards, by soaking it in soup. If you aren't going to eat it right away, place them in an airtight container for longer storage.

Activity Part #2: What did this tell you about the food pirates ate? What does it tell you about the supplies they brought with them? _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ How would you feel if you had to eat this almost every day? How would you make it taste better, or what type of soup would you have dipped it in to make it taste more appealing? Would you have survived on this diet?

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