Everybody has got some idea about what a pirate looks like and what he dd, haven’t they?.
They wear eye patches, have a wooden leg, a long beard, a bandanna on their hair and a parrot on their shoulder. They sail the seven seas in search for treasure. They are rough, tough , murderous, swashbuckling and drink lots of rum.
There are several sources for this perception of a pirate.
The first is the book ‘Treasure Island’ written by Scotsman Robert Louis Stevenson in 1881 who created the pirate character Long John Silver in his story.
The character was probably inspired by a real-life pirate and fellow Scot Captain William Kidd who buried treasure on an island in the Indian Ocean before being caught and later hanged.
Robert Louis Stevenson would also have known of English pirate Edward ‘Blackbeard’ Teach who used to put smoking fuses in his long beard to scare his enemies and was incredibly fearsome.
‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ sought the gold and silver being brought back by Spanish galleons from the American colonies. They were pure opportunists who plundered whatever treasure they could get their hands on.
These pirates would not only inspire a Disney theme park ride in the United States but a film franchise in which Johnny Depp starred as the lead character Jack Sparrow.
A pirate ship flew the ‘Jolly Roger’ flag on their ship. The emblem consisted of a skeleton and crossbones on a red background and gave the message to bloodlet with no quarter given..
Pirates followed a code of conduct. Everyone aboard had to ‘learn the ropes’, ‘tie the knot’ and ‘walk the plank’. All booty and loot from a successful treasure hunt was usually shared out equally among the crew.
The term’Bootlegging’ has been commonly adopted today to describe the act of selling something which has been illegally reproduced for sale. The corporate entertainment giant Disney remains at the forefront to stamp bootlegging out.
Piracy still happens today both on land at sea but the golden era of piracy was at the end of the seventeenth century when pirates such as Captain Kidd and Edward Teach lived.
Ironically, in 2015, after a lot of treasure hunting, the secret treasure of Captain William Kidd was found on the island of Magadascar in the Indian Ocean and will probably be put into a museum for the world to see.
1. Who or what is a pirate?
2. What did a pirate do?
3. Where is the Caribbean?
4. Why did pirates operate their business in the Caribbean?
5. What is treasure?
6. Can you think of another word attributed to ‘treasure’?
7. What inspired Robert Louis Stevenson to write ‘Treasure Island’?
8. What is bootlegging?
9. What happened when you had to ‘walk the plank’?
10. When wasw the golden era of piracy?
11. Where was treasure found in 2015?
12. And whose treasure was ir?


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