Why Walking the Plank is a PIRATE MYTH


Who wouldn’t want to be a pirate? Sailing the endless sea on exciting adventures,
seeking a mystical treasure and the breeze whispers tales of freedom. Sounds great, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, that’s not the life of a pirate.
It’s the movie of the life of a pirate. But, I am getting ahead of myself.
First of all, what is a pirate? A pirate is basically an armed robber on the sea or any other body of water.
They come in three different flavours: Buccaneers, Privateers and Corsairs.
So which is which and what’s the difference? Buccaneers are 17th-century hunters-gone-pirates on the island of Hispaniola; Privateers are armed sailors who behave just like pirates,
but carry a piece of paper saying: “Dear Foreign Ship, These gentlemen can rob you, for you are the enemy of my country. Tough luck.” Signed: The King; and Corsairs are sometimes privateers, sometimes pirates,
who are sometimes from the Mediterranean and sometimes French. Everything clear? Good. Piracy has been going on since there have been things of value,
and vessels to transport them. But when we hear the word “Pirate”, what comes to mind is not modern pirates in speed boats in the Gulf of Guinea, it’s Europeans terrorising the waters of the Caribbean and the North American east coast, during the Golden Age of Piracy. Europeans were moving incredible amounts of things
and people between Africa, the New World, and Europe, because… colonialism.
And due to all this blue stuff here, both had to be transported by ships… lots of ships.
For pirates, that meant easy money. Scarcely manned merchant vessels were no match
for a ship packed with pirates armed to the teeth. They would chase or ambush them,
threaten or beat the crew into surrender, and take everything that might be of use.
Loot was usually, not as you might assume, buried in a super secret place, but rather, due to poor personal finance skills,
wasted for a bit of hollow amusement. The growing piracy threat was even accelerated
by European countries encouraging privateering, to hurt competing colonial powers.
Needless to say, everybody was so very much surprised, when privateers, who made their living by robbing ships,
after being asked to stop robbing ships, because: “It’s cool. We’re at peace now”,
just continued robbing ships. Most pirates started out as regular seamen, [Jester chuckles] DIdn’t we all? [Silence] Please continue. The average pirate was an experienced sailor in his 20s, owed to both the required physical fitness for work aboard a ship, and the dismal life expectancy in the business. Sailors were regularly decimated by the many diseases going around when you are exposed to both Tropical climates,
and sub-par hygienic environments. Not that the life of a pirate was any better,
but at least, there was money to be made. For the masses of abused dirt-poor sailors,
the step into piracy wasn’t a big one. [Music] In a time when the lands of Europe were still in the hands of
kings and queens, pirates let democracy reign. They voted on important decisions, elected a captain,
and deposed him if his pirating was deemed unsatisfactory. Pirates had a code, a set of rules with dos and don’ts,
drawn up and signed by the crew. But different from what you might have been led to believe,
a ship’s rules weren’t merely guidelines. If you broke them, you were punished,
and often, that… meant your head. One way of realising the starkest of intentions is marooning,
leaving someone on an island far off from civilisation, without water, or food, or internet.
Some lucky devil might be discovered and rescued by a passing ship. If that didn’t happen, not super great.
Walking the plank, however, was not in a pirate’s thick punishment playbook. If you think about it, why would you go through
all the hassle of fastening a plank to the side of a ship, only so you can go…
[Snarls] Instead, pirates just grabbed people and
threw them overboard. “That’s done. Lunch time!” A pirate ship would carry a number of flags, for signalling,
displaying its nationality, or tricking victims into approaching it. Pirates used many a flag, but only one went down in history,
as THE Pirate Flag. The Jolly Roger, a sight that made every sailor’s blood freeze.
What about now? Still intimidating? Pirates never held a referendum
to crown the one true pirate flag. So until “skull and crossbones” became the standard,
they experimented, with darts, hearts, drops of blood, cutlasses, hourglasses, green flag, red flag,
white flag, and many more. Fortunately, all bad things must come to an end. Pirate attacks had been a thorn in the side of
Europe’s naval powers for decades, until they decided to strike back.
Those willing to quit the pirate life were pardoned, the rest were hunted down, arrested,
and sent straight to their maker. From the up to 2000 pirates that had roamed
the waters of the Carribean and North America, virtually none remained, and thus,
the Golden Age of Piracy came to an end. As time marched on, the threat faded,
and pirates were filed in our collective consciousness not under armed robbers, but adventurers.
We found fun and excitement in pirate stories, exploration of exotic places, hidden treasures, and the open sea.
Today, we put the Jolly Roger on coffee mugs, and kids run around with eyepatches and
plastic hooks for hands. The truth is, we like pirates now. Let’s just hope we’ll never meet one. [End screen]




Comments
  1. Modern seafaring pirates are definitely still around and a pretty major problem. Just when we catch them now, we give them food/showers/clothes before setting them free.

  2. 400 years from now children will be playing with jihadi action figures and running around with plastic explosives around their belt.

  3. Pirates 17th century Taliban helped America defeat the Soviets and now don't want to stop when he told them to .

  4. To circumvent being robbed by pirates, sir Adrian Plane invented the airplane in the early 17th century, flying over the oceans with valuable cargo.
    This led to a declining number of ships carrying valuable cargo, thus making the life of a pirate harder and harder.
    Because of this, piracy eventually stopped.

  5. Why did you choose the same animation style as cgp grey? You are clearly talented at making educational videos, but the style seems like you're copying another channel.

  6. important to note, is that what was important for the pirates success was ports- those in power(Who could be bribed) let the pirates dock and spend time in the ports, selling all their plunder. Near the end of the golden age, new less bribe-able people were in power, and they cracked down on the ports making piracy a much less viable option.

  7. "No man will be a sailor who has contrivance enough to get himself into a jail; for being in a ship is being in a jail, with the chance of being drowned… a man in a jail has more room, better food, and commonly better company.
    " – Samuel Johnson

  8. wow, I just binged watched all the pirates of the Caribbean movies over the weekend and then get a youtube video on pirates 😀

  9. Hey Tapa, a great video as always. I just wanted to give a slight bit of constructive criticism here. Your jester/that's what she said-moment with regard to the seamen seemed highly invited (in fact it immediately crossed my mind too) but I felt it kinda unnecessarily brought down the pace of the video, and I think it was a bit out of touch with the audience you've gathered. I don't really know why this bothers me, and maybe you want to experiment with a somewhat looser tone. But you already have a winning team with your style and delivery. So I'm saying this as a fan, not as a hater. Just something that struck me. Keep up the good work. (Y)

  10. So, being a pirate means:

    Getting sick and dying
    Getting shot and dying
    Tripping and drowning

    Well then…

    A pirate’s life for me!

  11. Oh. I always figured the Cilician pirates were the Golden Age of Piracy, until Pompey ruined everything. And it only took him three months to clean pirates out of the entire Mediterranean. I suppose that means the 1st Cent. BC was also the Golden Age of Fast Workers.

  12. I really love your videos, but I am still waiting for you to explain how to run a Ponzi Scheme.

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