lwhitehead

golden Age Pirate how truthful are the shown

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Hi folks I need to know how the Pirates of the Golden Age of Piracy are shown, are they historical or just too Holywood,

 

take Assassin Creed Black Flag are the Pirates too Holywood or Historical, 

 

LW

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I doubt if there's ever been an accurate portrayal of pirates in mass media. Hell, I still don't think we reenactors get more than 50% of it correct. There's a huge swath of unknowns about this small group who lived 300 years ago and kept almost no records of what they did. (Documentation could lead to hangings... ;)) Most of what we know about them is gathered up from the State Papers, newspaper reports, court accounts and a couple of accounts published by victims. Even the General History of the Pyrates is culled mostly from such documents. (Although there are a few exceptions. See the book Pirates in Their Own Words by Ed Fox if that interests you.) Take what historical reenactors (who are explicity trying to get it right) get wrong and add a layer of the things that are wrong in the much Hollywood-loved pre-Hollywood pop culture (such as works created by the likes of Robert Louis Stevenson, James Barrie, Howard Pyle and NC Wyeth) and you have a potpourri of misinformation in the pop-culture renditions.

Still, some are better than others. David Fictum has commented on some of the recent pop-pirate phenomenons. He actually talked about the accuracies and inaccuracies found in Assassin's Creed 4 from an historic POV in an article he published on Dropbox. You will find that article here.

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Ok I get it Hollywood never gets it right, but with me creating my 18th Century fantasy world focus on the Golden Age of Piracy this is a chance for me create some original characters Like the Grinner

 

LW

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I don't know what the Grinner is (sounds like a villain from a superhero comic), but it is sort of interesting how the General History has (somewhat inadvertantly) molded the perception of the pirate population so that the only historical pirates of note in popular culture are the pirate captains.

If I were looking to create other characters, I think I'd read the chapter on Bartholomew Roberts as well as the actual court document, both of which contain a lot of material on men other than Roberts. (There's a lot of overlap because Charles Johnson used the court document - called Tryal of all the Pyrates, Lately Taken by Captain Ogle - to write much of his chapter, but the original document contains quite a few things that Johnson chose not to use.) In fact, nearly all the court documents I've read have some information on men other than the pirate captains if you want source material. If that interests you, Joel Baer's four volume work British Piracy in the Golden Age: History and Interpretation, 1660-1730 is what you'll want. You'll probably find Volumes 2 & 3 particularly interesting. (Although, if you decide to read them, get them through interlibrary loan because they're prohibitively expensive to buy outright.)

Another really interesting account with quite a bit of detail with daily life on a pirate ship is that found in George Robert's The four years voyages of captain George Roberts (wrongly attributed to Daniel Defoe in the 1930s), pages 37 - 98. where Roberts describes being captured and held by Edward Low's crew. 

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Pirates in Their Own Words is available HERE (link to hardcover, but softcover and eBook are also available). I believe Baer's four-volume tome is now out of print, so inter-library loan might be the only way to get it.

There are lots of different sources available, but for the lives of common pirates the two best are the trial accounts to which Mission alluded, and even better, the pre-trial examinations. Several trial accounts are freely available: Kidd's trial has been published several times, Roberts' crew's trial can be found in Johnson's GHP, and I've seen the trials of Bonnet's crew and some of Every's crew online. There are three trials in Pirates in Their Own Words, and a couple reprinted in J.F. Jameson's Privateering and Piracy in the Colonial Period, which is now freely available online. Many printed trial accounts can be found in Baer's collection - if you can get it.

Pre-trial examinations are harder to access (but totally worth the effort!). Most have never been reprinted so are only available in the original manuscripts, most of which are held in the National Archives, Kew (HCA 1/51-53) and will involve a trip there and about two weeks at least to work through them properly. Quite a few (and most of the good ones) are reprinted in Pirates in Their Own Words, and there are some from American archives in Jameson's book mentioned above.

Pirates in Their Own Words, Vol. ii is in the works and will hopefully be available before the end of the year, containing newspaper and pamphlet accounts.

Of course, while doing your own primary source research is the best, it's not the only way to find out about the real lives of pirates. There are a handful of decent books (and piles and piles of less-decent books) available. The most recent social history of pirates of the 'golden age' is my own doctoral thesis, which is available free of charge from THIS LINK

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I am compiling transcriptions of pirate-related documents and making them available on my website at http://baylusbrooks.com in the "Pirate Library" section under "Reference Shelf." I find that reading such primary sources gives me a rich understanding of life in the Golden Age.. far and beyond what the popular and error-filled A General History can provide. These documents I have split between depositions, trials, papers, and letters. It is totally free... enjoy!

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Dammit, no "like" button here...

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