Related Videos

Top 5 Myths About Pirates

VO: Ashley
Script written by George Pacheco Arrgh, matey! Welcome to [Cough] No I can’t do it. Welcome to WatchMojo's Top 5 Myths, the series that finds the biggest myths people actually believe, and dispels them one by one. For this installment, we'll be tackling five myths about pirates that’ve had us walking the plank of liiieees. Special thanks to our users Christo or submitting the idea using our interactive suggestion tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest  

You must register to a corporate account to download this video. Please login

Script written by George Pacheco

Top 5 Myths About Pirates

Arrgh, matey! Welcome to [Cough] No I can’t do it. Welcome to WatchMojo's Top 5 Myths, the series that finds the biggest myths people actually believe, and dispels them one by one. For this installment, we'll be tackling five myths about pirates that’ve had us walking the plank of liiieees.
For the record, we won't be discussing modern day pirates, such as those found off the coasts of Somalia, or your cousin Ralph who’s downloading the latest HBO drama. Instead, we’re focusing on the glorious swashbuckling pirates of old. Oh, and before we go any further, that "Pirate Voice" we started with earlier? Yeah, that's a myth perpetuated by that scoundrel, Robert Louis Stevenson in his classic "Treasure Island." So stop celebrating "National Talk Like a Pirate Day,". No fun allowed.

#5: Pirates Were Outlaws

When you hear the word pirate, you probably think of an old, salty scallywag, on the run from justice and enjoying a lawless life on the high seas. And you’re wrong. 
A career in piracy was actually a semi-legitimate one, at least if you take into account the fact that some pirates started out their lives as privateers - men legally employed by their governments to attack and rob enemy ships. Which is…somewhat more admirable?
Some of those government bodies, such as the British Navy, would often forcibly recruit just about any able bodied man for their ships, which meant many crews consisted of blood thirsty thugs who were shackled to their ships at all times.
So, with life as a sailor being such a rough one, many would understandably be delighted when given the prospect of literally jumping ship to a pirate vessel. 

#4: There were no female pirates

There’s a number of infamous pirate captains who have seen their names immortalized in the history books. From Blackbeard to Henry Morgan, these blokes’ legacies are known by all.
As such, One pervasive myth is that all of these feared pirates were men. This is actually not the case at all, as there are plenty of recorded female pirates – some of which even disguised as men.
Exceptions to this pirate boys club included Anne Bonny and Mary "Mark" Read, two notable women who were actually caught and tried for piracy.
The lady who perhaps had the most impressive pirating career was China's Ching Shih, a.k.a. Madame Ching, an immensely powerful and successful pirate queen who was actually able to avoid the hangman's noose and retire with her life, and loot, intact.

#3: Pirates wear eye patches because they're missing an eye

Bloody Hollywood movies with their false depictions of pirate culture; always leading you to believe that under the patch is a nasty battle wound.
No, Unlike Metal Gear’s Big Boss, these grizzled war vets didn’t have their eyes blown out in a scuffle.
The truth behind the eye patch is actually based more on practicality. The main purpose of wearing one was to make it easier for the invading pirate's eyes to adjust to low light and darkness when raiding enemy ships.
Specifically, the crew would wear their patches while moving about on deck, and then switch the patch to their other eye when night fell and the time came to board an enemy ship under the cover of darkness. Indeed, the pirates could then remove the eye patch any time....unless of course they really were missing an eye. We don’t like to generalize on this show.

#2: All pirates flew the skull and crossbones flag

These days, many of us tend to associate the Jolly Roger as a flag representing anything and everything pirate. But in reality, pirate ships flew many different flags, which could stand for anything from their current status or their captain’s coat of arms. They were actually a creative old bunch. 
For example, a pirate ship could fly a solid black sail representing the recent death of a crew member, which also meant that they were willing to negotiate with a fellow vessel in their sorry state. 
A flag that was completely red, however, was usually flown for intimidation, meaning that opponents were in for a REALLY bad time, should they be boarded by a bloodthirsty band of pirates.

#1: Pirates made maps leading to their buried treasure

There are countless films and novels detailing the search for buried pirate treasure, but the reality of the situation was that most pirates spent their fortunes as quickly as they earned it, for theirs was a dangerous occupation. 
These were raiders who lived at sea, and any gold or silver, which was acquired during a raid, was usually spent almost immediately on women or alcohol at the notorious Jamaican harbor village of Port Royal – which by the way, was the chilliest pirate hub during the Golden Age.
The truth behind burying pirate treasure is that this was usually only done if there was too much to carry, they were being followed by enemies or otherwise had to dump it quick, before coming back to reclaim it shortly thereafter.
Privateers and pirates such as Sir Francis Drake and William Kidd were known to have gone this route, but honestly, pirates certainly weren't about to mark down the location of any treasure for others to find. So you might want to give up on all those adventurous dreams.
Finished counting all your gold dubloons? This is what Google searchers are asking about pirates. Why do pirates have hooks? Were there pirates in the Caribbean? Did pirates ever smoke weed? For more swashbuckling top tens and treasure hunting top fives, please subscribe to!

Sign in to access this feature

Related Blogs