We all know what a pirate is, the way they dressed, how they spoke – or do we? In this talk we will delve into the popular and enduring stories that surround the history of piracy: pirate codes and buried treasure, talking parrots and walking planks. We will explore how those stories originated and whether these things really happened. Looking at some the most famous pirates of the 17th and 18th centuries, including Blackbeard, Anne Bonny and Mary Read, and ‘Black Bart’ Roberts, and paying close attention to surviving historical evidence, we will examine how stories about pirates defined ideas about piracy in that period and continue to shape our understanding of piracy in the present day.
Dr Richard Blakemore is Associate Professor in Social and Maritime History at the University of Reading. His research focuses on seafarers during the 17th and 18th centuries, and he has published books and articles on the British civil wars at sea, Atlantic piracy, trade and violence in West Africa, wages and economics in shipping, and maritime law.
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