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When Did the Golden Age of Piracy Occur?

While Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean films are mostly fictional, the Caribbean was the center of piracy during its so-called Golden Age. But when did the Golden Age of Piracy occur? 

The Golden Age of Piracy occurred between the years 1650 to 1730. During this time,  robbery and crime rates were highest in the Caribbean seas, eastern Atlantic, and Indian Oceans.

The Golden Age of Piracy

Though pirates existed even during ancient times, according to historians, the Golden Age of Piracy was in the 17th and 18th centuries. Though heavily disputed, most historians accept that the golden age was between 1650 to 1730. During this time, it was reported that more than 5,000 pirates were on the open seas. (Source: Royal Museums Greenwich)

The Golden Age also refers to only the pirates reported having operated on either side of the Atlantic Ocean, in the Indian Ocean, and the waters off the coast of West Africa. The specific age doesn’t include other pirates reported having operated in other parts of the world, hence only referred to primarily British, American, Dutch, and French pirates.

Historians hypothesized that several men, and some women, were attracted to a life in the open seas because they couldn’t find meaningful employment after serving in the wars between England and France. These pirates were also enticed to the knowledge that the Age of Exploration brought about many ships transporting valuable items and was an easy target since they were usually lightly guarded. (Source: World History)

Famous Pirates of the Golden Age

This specific period of piracy produced many noteworthy and infamous pirates of their time. Here are a few of them and some interesting facts about them. (Source: Royal Museums Greenwich)


Blackbeard was probably the most notorious and famous pirate in all history. He was born Edward Teach. Blackbeard developed his image, as the pirates’ first weapon against their enemies was fear. Known for having a knack for theatrics, Blackbeard was always heavily armed with knives, cutlasses, and pistols. During battles, he would light up the fuses he set on his thick, tangled hair, so when he attacked, his face was surrounded with smoke, creating a terrorizing effect that would frighten whoever he faced. 

Captain Ned Low

Edward Low was known for his brutality towards his victims. It was reported that he took extreme pleasure in torturing them by cutting off their noses, ears, and lips. He was also known to torture and murder entire crews of ships he captured.

Mary Read

Mary Read was a female pirate part of Calico Jack Rackam’s ship. According to historians, Mary Read joined the British army disguised as a male soldier. When they went to sea, their ship was captured by Calico Jack. Instead of being killed, Read joined Jack’s crew. When Rackam’s crew was captured in Jamaica, all of the crew was executed except for Read and another lady pirate, Anne Bonny, who were both pregnant at the time.

Anne Bonny

Anne Bonny was an unhappy housewife who searched for excitement in her life. She met Calico Jack and joined him and his pirate crew. Similar to Mary Read, Bonny disguised herself by dressing in men’s clothes and behaving like a man.

(Source: Pirate Show Cancun)

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