A Buccaneer’s Life for Me

buccaneer

Yo ho, yo ho. A buccaneer’s life for me. Or is that pirate’s life? They are the same thing, aren’t they? Not exactly. Buccaneers were pirates who made their thieving living attacking fat Spanish ships in the Caribbean. Eventually, English settlers began using the term buccaneer to mean pirate, and thus the interchanging confusion.

England was delighted with the buccaneers crime against their hated rivals the Spanish and letter of marqueissued letters of marque to legalize their looting for a share of the profits. Sneaky sneaky, you Brits. By the end of the seventeenth century, the government grew weary of the wild buccaneering ways and the wars tangling up between other countries so these roaming seamen were forced to turn to legal work. Of course there were those who refused an honest day’s pay and joined ranks with other pirate crews seeking to plunder the far off waters of India, North America, and Africa.

Now, you may be thinking that the captain ruled the roost with an iron fist and anyone caught not swabbing the deck would be forced to walk the plank into a frenzy of sharks. Not so. The captain was elected by popular vote and could be fired just as easily. Power to the people! In fact, it was the crew that decided who, when, and where they attacked and all spoils were evenly divided. The one perk of being captain was that he got just a little more. Go figure.

Have I convinced you yet to join up? No? Well, mate, let’s talk fashion. Most men joined a crew with just the clothes on their back, be they civies or retired naval garb. Over the years, the hard work, the long days in the sun, and the constant exposure to water these clothes wore out fast. What’s a hard working seaman to do? Improvise. And take from your plundered foe. The flashier the better because at the time only the wealthy were allowed to wear velvets and silks, and what sophisticated brethren wouldn’t want to outdo the elite?

Ok, so I may not have persuaded any of you to make your mark, but hopefully if you cross paths with a buccaneer you’ll know not to call him a pirate.

Parting tidbits:
– Henry Morgan was the most famous of them all. Plundering to his heart’s content, he was later knighted by Charles II and became governor of Jamaica. henry-morgan
– The term ‘motley crew’ came from multi-colored woolen fabric woven of mixed threads from the 14th to the 17th century.
– Gold hoop earrings, not just for looks, but were thought to ease sea sickness by applying pressure to ear lobes.
– Fear of the Jolly Roger derived from a plain red flag flying meaning no quarter given. In other words, no mercy. Jolly rogers translates to the French meaning ‘lovely red’.


A to Z blog hop at Patterings.

17 Comments

  1. Joanne Sher

    So interesting! Really enjoyed this post (though I will NOT be joining up any time soon!)

    Reply
    1. J'nell (Post author)

      Between the constant sacking of cities and constant threat of sunburn on the open seas, I don’t think I’d join either, Joanne.

      Reply
  2. Tom Threadgill

    When we lived in Orlando we had passes to Disney, so we rode the Pirates of the Caribbean ride approximately 1.34 gazillion times. Anytime someone mentions a pirate my mind instantly goes to that song. “Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me.”

    And I didn’t know that buccaneer captains were elected. I’ve learned something today!

    Thanks for posting, J’nell!

    Reply
    1. Tom Threadgill

      Oh, and I think you asked a question about getting your picture to show up next to comments on other blogs? Try gravatar.com. That’s what I use and it works (most of the time).

      Reply
      1. J'nell (Post author)

        I’ll have to check into it because I’m tired of showing up as a faceless blue head.

        Reply
    2. J'nell (Post author)

      It’s our favorite ride too when we go. Best place in the kingdom to cool off and have a seat! My husband is such a fan of Disney (who am I kidding, the whole family is) he created his own Disney site at http://mouseguru.net/. People can get and give awesome tips for the magical land of mouse!

      Reply
      1. Tom Threadgill

        Can’t wait to take my grandkids there! They can ride, I can sit and eat.

        Oh, and how much is that corn? (Hint: you say, (It’s a buck an ear!”)

        Reply
        1. J'nell (Post author)

          Oh. My. Goodness. How do you come up with this stuff?

          Reply
          1. Tom Threadgill

            I say it’s a gift. Others have not been so kind.

  3. Barbara Lynn Culler

    Thanks for the earworm! 🙂 “Yo ho yo ho, a pirate’s life for me…” That was an interesting study-thanks for sharing.

    Reply
    1. J'nell (Post author)

      I think I may have unintentionally earwormed a bunch of people today with that little diddy. All for the sake of learning.

      Reply
  4. Jodie

    Great post, J’nell. 🙂

    Reply
    1. J'nell (Post author)

      Thanks Jodie! I try to keep it interesting.

      Reply
  5. Karla Akins

    One of the first books I remember my mother reading aloud to us was Treasure Island. I’m sure she read others but as a little girl I remember being wide eyed in wonder at “Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum, 15 men on a dead man’s chest.” I had no idea what that meant. I’m not sure what the dead man’s chest means, either. But anyway, all this to say I love pirates!! Thanks for this entertaining post.

    Reply
    1. J'nell (Post author)

      According to Johnny Depp dead man’s chest contained Davy Jones’s pumping heart. Not sure if that’s true, but who cares when Johnny is on screen. Sigh.

      Reply
  6. Nancy K. Sullivan

    Thanks for the fun history lesson today! The portrayal of pirates and buccaneers I watched as a young girl painted a much more romantic picture of their lifestyle. And, I definitely with ya on Johnny Depp 🙂

    Reply
    1. J'nell (Post author)

      Don’t you wish life was always as romantic as the movies?

      Reply

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