Madame Ching or Ching Shih, known as Cheng I Sao, was a prominent pirate in middle Qing China, who terrorized the China Sea in the early 19th century. She personally commanded over 300 junks manned by 20,000 to 40,000 pirates—men and she entered into conflict with the existing empires of the time, such as the British, the Portuguese and the Qing dynasty. She was one of the few captains to retire from piracy. She is considered to be the most successful female pirate and one of the worlds most powerful pirates in history, Ching Shih has been featured in numerous books, video games, and films in Asia. She was born Shi Xianggu in 1775 in Guangdong and she was a Cantonese prostitute who worked in a small brothel in Guangzhou, but was captured by pirates. In 1801, she married Cheng I, a notorious pirate, the name she is best remembered by simply means Chengs widow. Cheng I belonged to a family of pirates who traced their criminal origins back to the mid-seventeenth century. By 1804, this coalition was a force, and one of the most powerful pirate fleets in all of China.
On 16 November 1807, Cheng I died in Vietnam, Ching Shih immediately began maneuvering her way into his leadership position. She started to cultivate personal relationships to get rivals to recognize her status, in order to stop her rivals before open conflict erupted, she sought the support of the most powerful members of her husbands family, his nephew Cheng Pao-yang and his cousins son Cheng Chi. Then she drew on the coalition formed by her husband by building some of the fleet captains existing loyalties to her husband. She believed there was one man for the job, Cheung Po Tsai. Cheung Po Tsai was the son of a fisherman and had been impressed into piracy at age 15, Cheung rose rapidly through the ranks and was eventually adopted by Cheng I to give him the rights of a son and heir. As soon as Ching Shih chose Cheung, she acted quickly to solidify the partnership with intimacy, the two became lovers within weeks and eventually married. Ching Shih gave birth to Cheungs son sometime between the age of 32 and 35, Cheung Po Tsai died at 36 of unknown causes.
Once she held the leadership position, Ching Shih started the task of uniting the fleet by issuing a code of laws. The Neumann translation of The History of Pirates Who Infested the China Sea claims that it was Cheung Po Tsai that issued the code. Yuan Yung-lun says that Cheung issued his own code of three regulations, called san-tiao, for his own fleet, but these are not known to exist in a written form, the code was very strict and according to Richard Glasspoole, strictly enforced
Mary Read, known as Mark Read, was an English pirate. Mary Read was illegitimately born in England, in the late 17th century and her date of birth is disputed among historians because of a reference to the Peace of Ryswick by her contemporary biographer Captain Charles Johnson in A General History of the Pirates. He very well may have made an error, intending to refer to the Treaty of Utrecht, whichever it is, her birth was around 1691. Because she had become pregnant as a result of a following the disappearance of her husband, Reads mother attempted to hide the birth of her daughter. She first began to disguise illegitimately born Mary as a boy after the death of Marys older and this was done in order to continue to receive financial support from Reads paternal grandmother. The grandmother was apparently fooled, and Read and her mother lived on the inheritance into her teenage years, still dressed as a boy, Read found work as a foot-boy, and found employment on a ship. She joined the British military, allied with Dutch forces against the French, Read, in male disguise, proved herself through battle, but she fell in love with a Flemish soldier.
When they married, she used their military commission and gifts from intrigued brethren in arms as a source to acquire an inn named De drie hoefijzers near Breda Castle in The Netherlands. Upon her husbands death, Read resumed male dress and military service in Holland. With peace, there was no room for advancement, so she quit, Reads ship was taken by Pirates, who forced her to join them. She took the Kings pardon c, 1718-1719, and took a commission to privateer, until that ended with her joining the crew in mutiny. In 1720 she joined pirate John Calico Jack Rackham and his companion, the pirate Anne Bonny, on 22 August 1720 the three stole an armed sloop named William from port in Nassau. Reads gender was revealed when Bonny told Read that she was a woman, realising this, Read revealed that she too was a woman. However, Rackham, as Bonnys lover, did not know this, to abate his jealousy, Bonny told him that Read was a woman. After a volley of fire left the pirate vessel disabled, Rackhams crew and their guests fled to the hold, leaving only the women and one other to fight Barnets boarding party.
Allegedly, Read angrily shot into the hold, killing one, Barnets crew eventually overcame the women. Rackham and his crew were arrested and brought to trial in what is now known as Spanish Town, however, the women escaped the noose when they revealed they were both quick with child, so they received a temporary stay of execution. Read died of a violent fever while in prison and her 28 April 1721 burial is in the records of St. Catherines church in Jamaica
Awilda, known as Alwilda, was a female pirate. The story of Awilda is doubted by some scholars and considered to be a legend. Awilda was the daughter of a 5th-century Scandinavian king, referred to in one source as Synardus and it is said that the King, her father, had arranged a marriage for her to Alf, the crown prince of Denmark, whose father was King Sygarus of Denmark. However, Awilda refused her fathers choice and she and some of her female friends dressed like sailors and commandeered a ship. While sailing, they came across a pirate ship that had recently lost its captain, the King of Denmark sent his son and a navy ship to battle with the irksome pirates. Prince Alf and his men were able to board their ship, Awilda was so impressed with the princes courage that she revealed her true identity, and agreed to marry Alf. They married on board, and lived happily ever after as King, in One Piece, a Japanese anime and manga, a female pirate captain is named Alvida, in reference to Awilda. Alf and Alfhild International Talk Like a Pirate Day The Straight Dope bulletin board The Pirates Own at Scribd
Alf and Alfhild
As a young princess, Alfhilds chamber was guarded by a lizard and a snake, which scared away unworthy suitors. A Danish prince named Alf, of Geatish descent, came to Geatland, but Alfhild, advised by her mother, fled from Alf dressed as a man, and she became a shield maiden. Alf and his Scanian comrade, together with their Danish sea-warriors, searched for and eventually found Alfhild, after some deadly fighting aboard the ships, Alfhilds helmet was knocked off, and she was recognised. Alf and Borgar ordered their men to fighting, and Alf embraced Alfhild. She decided to lay off her clothes and follow Alf to Denmark. Some years later, in a war fought against a revolting Danish clan and his brothers, only Alfs and Alfhilds daughter Gurid had survived of the royal family. After being queen for a while, Gurid married one of Borgars sons and they had a son named Harald, according to the details in the saga, this would have taken place in the 5th century. The account in Saxo Grammaticus Gesta Danorum is the story of Alf and Alfhild.
There are some variations to the story in popular culture. Here Alfhild is most often called Awilda, during the 1800s, Alfhild/Awilda was a popular subject for scrimshaw carved by members of whaling crews. Here, under the name of Alvida, shes figuring in a modern Dutch musical, in 1686, LAmazzone Corsara, ovvero LAlvilda, regina de Goti, by Carlo Pallavicino. In 1731, Alvilda regina de Goti, by Antonio Vivaldi, yngwin Awilda Gesta Danorum in Latin Another version of Gesta Danorum The Pirates Own Book, Authentic Narratives of the Most Celebrated Sea Robbers, by Charles Ellms, Marine Research Society
Women in piracy
While piracy was predominantly a male occupation, a minority of pirates were women. On many ships, women were prohibited by the ships contract, because of the resistance to allowing women on board, many female pirates did not identify themselves as such. Anne Bonny, for example and acted as a man while on Captain Calico Jacks ship and she and Mary Read, another female pirate, are often identified as being unique in this regard. This article contains a list of female pirates who are recognized by historians, during the Golden Age of Piracy, many men had to leave home to find employment or set sail for economic reasons. This left women with the responsibilities of taking on male roles. The need for women to fill these roles led them to be granted rights that had historically been exclusive to men, Women were allowed to trade, own ships, and work as retailers. Often they were innkeepers or ran alehouses, in some seaside towns, laws were even written to allow widows to keep their husbands responsibilities and property.
This was important to local economies, as alehouses and other establishments were centers of commerce. As heads of these establishments, women had an amount of freedom in business. At times, female business owners would even hide their clients when authorities came looking to arrest them for piracy, some women chose to marry pirates. These men were very wealthy, but their wives tended not to gain wealth as a result of their marriages, as it was difficult for pirates to send home wages. These womens houses and establishments were often used as havens for pirates. Women sometimes became pirates themselves, though they tended to have to disguise themselves as men in order to do so, Pirates did not allow women onto their ships very often. Many women of the time were unable to perform the demanding tasks required of the crew. Additionally, women were regarded as bad luck among pirates. It was feared that the members of the crew would argue. On many ships, women were prohibited by the ships contract, because of the resistance to allowing women on board, many female pirates did not identify themselves as such.
Anne Bonny, for example and acted as a man while on Captain Calico Jacks ship and she and Mary Read, another female pirate, are often identified as being unique in this regard
Grace OMalley was chieftain of the Ó Máille clan in the west of Ireland, following in the footsteps of her father Eoghan Dubhdara Ó Máille. Commonly known as Gráinne Mhaol in Irish folklore, she is a historical figure in 16th-century Irish history. She was well-educated and regarded by contemporaries as being exceptionally formidable, upon her fathers death she inherited his large shipping and trading business. Through income from business, land inherited from her mother. She formally presented her request to Elizabeth I at her court in Greenwich Palace, OMalley was born in Ireland around 1530, when Henry VIII was King of England and held the title Lord of Ireland. Under the policies of the English government at the time, the semi-autonomous Irish princes, however this was to change over the course of OMalleys life as the Tudor conquest of Ireland gathered pace. Eoghan Dubhdara Ó Máille, her father and his family were based in Clew Bay and he was chieftain of the Ó Máille clan and a direct descendant of its eponym, Maille mac Conall.
The Uí Mháille were one of the few seafaring families on the west coast and her mother, Margaret or Maeve, was a Ní Mháille. Although she was the child of Dubhdara and his wife, OMalley had a half-brother called Dónal na Píopa. The Uí Mháille taxed all those who fished off their coasts, the head of the family was known simply by his surname as Ó Máille. Local folklore had it that as a young girl OMalley wished to go on an expedition to Spain with her father. Upon being told she could not because her hair would catch in the ships ropes. This earned her the nickname Gráinne Mhaol, usually anglicised as Granuaile, the nickname may come from Gráinne Umhaill. She was probably formally educated, since she is believed to have spoken in Latin with Queen Elizabeth I in 1593, as OFlaherty tánaiste, Dónal an Chogaidh one day expected to rule Iar Connacht, the area roughly equivalent to modern Conamara. She bore three children during her marriage to Dónal an Chogaidh, The eldest child and son, known to be kind and forgiving.
When Owen was in his twenties or early thirties, Richard Bingham tricked him and, as a result, Owen was murdered and Bingham. Margaret, Sometimes called Maeve, Margaret was much like her mother and she married and had several children. Ní Mháille and Margarets husband, Richard the Devils Hook Bourke, were very close