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The history of pirates and piracy is an old history, over three thousand years old, but the relatively modern concept of 'pirate' and 'piracy' only came about in the 1600's, when privateering came into a golden era of popularity (the difference being privateers often work for their individual governments, and attack ships of enemy nations). However, the idea of piracy was far older, and the first written account of piracy was a mention of free-lance Mediterranean shipping attacks in 1350 BC, and two centuries later, the Vikings became the most notorious pirates in the Old World. In fact, one of the first international agreements was made specifically about piracy.

The trappings of 'pirates', as we think of them, are largely myth. The name 'Jolly Roger' (the flag pirates supposedly ran up when attacking other ships) has several possible origins alone, the most popular being a perversion of the French words, 'jolie rouge' (pretty red, for the red flags used to denote aggressive ships). Another likely theory, however, is that the flag got its name from the jolly 'rogering' that took place when pirates took captives - mostly female prisoners, who were 'rogered' (forced into sexual activity) at the rail of the ship, then thrown overboard. The flag was flown specifically when the pirates were engaging in a fight against another ship, probably to strike fear into their victims. Each captain often designed his own flag, so that the different ships could be picked out by their flag-design. The popular 'skull and crossbones' design was taken from an amulet Christians used to wear, but fell out of popularity after pirates (mostly of English decent, I believe) perverted the symbology. More on the individual flags can be found [here].

Pirates did have a code of conduct, often written by one of the few pirates that could act as a scribe. A sample code of conduct can be found [here]. However, the myth of a pirate having a monkey or a parrot on his shoulder is largely just that - a myth. Animals, especially largely useless animals like a parrot, would have been consumed in hard times, in addition to probably getting in the way of work. Also, in later years of piracy, exotic animals for menageries were in high demand in Europe, and a parrot or monkey would bring a good price if sold. However, some early Buccaneers did keep hunting dogs, and many sailors kept cats on board for good luck. Hooks and peg-legs were only really popularized in more modern literature, but were a possibility, as losing a limb to gangrene or injury wasn't uncommon.

More info about pirates, privateers, corsairs, and buccaneers can be found at the following links:
Pirates! Fact and Legend
A History of Pyracy
Wikipedia: Pirates


Jul. 15th, 2005 10:57 am
teabiting: (icaruslaughing black)
These are the answers to yesterday's poll.

1.) 94.1% of people got the answer to the first question, "What were the Japanese Internment Camps?" right. They were camps used to confine people of Japanese ancestry in the US, during WWII. Between 110,000 and 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry were confined to these camps. 60% of the people were US citizens. Military officials considered that these people were "threats" to the US, based on the possibility of their loyalty resting with Japanese interests (and not American interests) in WWII. If you're curious about other countries that have had internment/concentration camps, here's an article that explains it more in-depth.

2.) Only 45.5% of you knew that the American Revolutionary War ended in 1783. Please understand this is different from the American Revolution, since the Revolution started and ended before the official years of the War, 1775-1783. However, the War ended with the signing of the Treaty of Paris, though the last battle in the war took place at Yorktown, which ended on October 19, 1781.

3.) 55.9% of you answered correctly, that Paul Revere sought to warn the cities of Concord and Lexington when the British army was on the march. He wasn't alone, as many people might suppose, but traveled with William Dawes. They were joined by Samuel Prescott, but all three were detained on their way to Concord. Prescott escaped and was able to warn Concord, but Paul Revere was detained longer, and his horse was confiscated. He walked back to Lexington.

4.) 85.3% of people answered correctly, that Francis Scott Key was inspired by the Bombardment of Ford McHenry in 1814, in the War of 1812. As many of you also know, the "Star Spangled Banner" was set to the tune of an English drinking song, "To Anacreon in Heaven". The song was quickly popular with Americans, but not adopted as the national anthem until 1931. The lyrics to the whole anthem can be found here. Supposedly, the second and third verse are omitted from performances because they are considered "bloody".

5.) 57.6% of you knew that British-Canadians burned the White House (the first time), during the War of 1812. Officially, of course, they weren't "Canadians", because "Canada" didn't come into existance officially until later, but more than half of the British troops were made up of Canadian militia. It was a bit of a blow to the morale to the relatively new republic, which had the "President's Mansion" finished less than a decade and a half earlier (at the expense of $232,371.83, or about $2.4 million today).
I'm trusting yous not to open up an encyclopaedia for the answer, and instead go from your memory. I'll post the answers tomorrow.

[Poll #532312]

(no subject)

Jun. 9th, 2005 07:30 pm
teabiting: (icaruslaughing black)
It's hazy today. I have a hell of a lot of reading to catch up on. I feel I'm missing a whole bunch of required knowledge as far as political science goes, since I spent my college career absorbing music theory and ignoring the world at large. To make up for that percieved loss, I'm trying to stuff myself as full of history as possible.

It's not to say that I never read history- I paid the required amount of attention in high school, but never really got into actual events. I studied quite a bit on WWII (basically, only the part that pertains to Nazi Germany), but was more interested in the military aspect of it (and psychological aspect of it, now that I think of it- I read "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich" about three times, mostly for its detail on the psychological warfare used by the Germans). Little else except an early-blooming obsession with naval battles and ships and my German history teacher.

So I find when someone refers to a political event that was not a naval battle or a decisive turning point of WWII, I am somewhat lost. I kind of stare blankly for awhile, then try looking it up on Wikipedia. I feel like I have these huge gaps in my knowledge where there used to be something, some glimmer of knowledge from fifth grade textbooks, but it was never used so the dust has settled. I feel like I should know a bit about everything, especially the last four decades, but know precious little, and so the stack of must-read books grows higher. I am quite sure that sometime in the near future, I will be engulfed. Steve is writing a program for me, an electronic note-card-type program, so that perhaps I can start classifying sources and whatnot (I obsess over organization, too, did I mention that?), so hopefully that will help a little in organizing my thoughts.

But as for the last four decades that I never paid attention to? All I have to say right now is: Whoa.


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