8 Absurd Facts About Pirates Hollywood Made Us Believe

There are hundreds of movies and books about the lives of pirates. Today, a regular pirate for us is a captain with a parrot on his shoulder digging for treasure on deserted islands. Of course, he has a crew of experienced sailors, some of which have wooden legs and missing eyes. But most of the “facts” we know about pirates are complete fiction.

We at Bright Side have watched a lot of pirate movies and want to bust 8 popular myths about them.

Myth № 1: Only men were pirates.

You’ve probably heard that women on the ship bring bad luck. But this is not true, according to pirate stories. For example, Jeanne de Clisson sold all of her property and went to the sea with black flags to avenge her husband.

Sayyida al Hurra is another famous pirate. She worked with another pirate, Barbarossa, and controlled the Mediterranean sea at the beginning of the sixteenth century. She was one of the most famous female pirates.

Myth № 2: Pirates only operated on the seas.

Of course, pirates are associated with the sea. But they often took it another step further and even conquered the nearby cities and fortresses. Hayreddin Barbarossa was famous for that. This way, he became the ruler of Algeria and even invaded some cities in Spain and Italy.

The legendary Henry Morgan was an expert at land expeditions. And he also invaded and conquered Panama. Several years later, he became the vice-governor of Jamaica.

Myth № 3: Captains had absolute power.

It’s hard to believe, but pirates had a developed democracy and all the key positions were given to elected candidates, unlike the military ships. Absolute power resulted in ordinary sailors getting underpaid, not fed well, and overloaded with work.

And pirates used voting to make all the decisions, like where to go, who to rob, and what to do with the prisoners. The captain’s voice didn’t matter more than an ordinary sailor’s.

Myth № 4: Pirates were criminals and cutthroats.

We’ve all heard that pirates were merciless cutthroats. But in reality, it wasn’t true. Due to low income and bad work conditions, many sailors became pirates.

In general, pirates were quite peaceful for their time. Their goal was to get the goods, and rare murders were only committed to intimidate others and uphold an image.

Myth № 5: Pirates made prisoners walk the plank.

The first person that invented walking the plank was the writer, Daniel Defoe, in his book, A General History of the Pyrates. The idea was used by other writers and it became popular. In fact, there is no evidence that real pirates made prisoners do such things.

Myth № 6: Hooks were used instead of hands and wooden legs were a regular thing.

One of the main things that pops into your mind when you think about a pirate is a wooden leg and a missing eye. Such things were used in real life since, at the time, pirates were often injured. However, few of them were still functioning, and pirates with leg injuries didn’t always make it.

And wearing an eye patch wasn’t due to injury. Patches were used to help the eyes adjust to a lack of light in case they needed to attack the dark rooms of ships.

Myth № 7: Digging for treasure is something all pirates did.

According to this popular myth, pirates buried treasure on deserted islands and other secret places. So the world should be full of forgotten gold. But this is not true. There are just a few famous examples of such robberies. One of them is William Kidd’s treasure the government found quite fast, and he was arrested. Another example is Francis Drake’s treasure that he hid and then came back for.

Of course, they would steal gold or jewels whenever a ship had these. But they would mostly steal food, weapons, fishing nets, medicine, and other various useful items for their survival.

Myth № 8: A parrot on the shoulder is a loyal friend and companion.

During the golden age of piracy, exotic animals were trending in Europe. Parrots were easy to transport and they were worth a lot. It makes sense that pirates transported them. But there’s no evidence that there was a pirate that had a parrot companion.

What we do know for sure is that cats were transported on the ships. They were good at catching mice and rats, and some people even believed they brought good luck.

Do you enjoy pirate movies and stories? What films or books about pirates do you like the most?

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