In popular culture today, pirates are mostly represented as loveable rogues; a little bit mischievous, but ultimately good when it comes down to it. Characters such as Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean have largely given us this impression, but in reality, pirates were far from this. Here are 5 of the most infamous pirates to ever have sailed the seven seas.
This French pirate has gone down in history for his terrifying brutality throughout his violent tirade against the Spaniards, including an incident when he reportedly ate a man’s heart to scare his other hostages into giving him directions to safe waters. This along with commandeering ships and beheading their crew earned l’Olonnais his infamy.
One of the more well known names in pirate history, Edward Teach, or Blackbeard as he was known, was an Englishman who led a pirate army of around 300 and commanded four ships. He captured many ships in the Caribbean and killed his prisoners without hesitation. He was eventually beheaded for his crimes by the Royal Navy.
Benjamin Hornigold is possibly best known as being Blackbeard’s mentor. He commanded a 30-gun warship, giving him easy control over the other ships on the waters. But he was not known to use this advantage for brutality; he once overtook a ship and insisted that the crew surrendered their hats to him, as his crew had got drunk the night before and lost theirs. Hornigold eventually retired from pirating and actually went on to become a pirate hunter!
Bartholomew Roberts, better known as Black Bart, was forced into slavery on a ship that was one day captured by pirates. He willingly accepted to join the crew and within six week’s became their new leader. Through his pirating he sought justice for others forced to work in squalid conditions by murdering any ship captain who treated his crew poorly, much to the delight of the crew members.
An inspiration behind Pirates of the Carribean’s Captain Barbossa, Hayreddin “Redbeard” Barbarossa ruled his own country as well as commanding a fleet of ships, giving him a great deal of power. With the help of a fleet of 122 ships, in 1538 he took down armies from Venice, the Vatican, Genoa, Spain, Portugal and Malta in the Battle of Preveza.