Who were the First Pirates?

Piracy, which is robbery on the high seas, has been going on for thousands of years Even ancient Greek and Roman ship were often attacked by pirates in the Agean and Mediterranean seas. In Fact, the pirates become so powerful that they set up their own kingdom in part of what is now Turkey.

The Romans had to send an expedition to destroy them in the year 67 B.C. A great period of piracy lasted from the 1300’s to 1830. Pirates established themselves in ports of northern Africa in what were called the Barbary States: Morocco, Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli.

They would capture and loot European ships that sailed the Mediterranean and sell their passengers and crews into slavery or hold them for ransom. This piracy did not stop until the French conquered Algiers in 1830.


One of the names we have for pirates is “buccaneers”. These were the pirates who operated during the late 1500’s and 1600’s in the Spanish Main. Originally the term “Spanish Main”’ meant the Caribbean coast of Central and South America.

In buccaneering days it usually meant the Caribbean sea itself. The buccaneers were mostly sailors and runaway servants from different countries who had gathered on the islands and in the harbors of the West Indies.

They hunted wild cattle and dried the meat over grills called “boucans”, and That’s how the buccaneers got their name. Pirates often buried their gold, silver, and jewels in the ground. They wanted to keep their hiding places secret. There are many people who believe that a great deal of buried pirate treasure is still to be found along the Gulf Coast from Florida to Texas.

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