Wednesday, September 10, 2003
Most people aren't aware of the strict code of honor that the pirates upheld. They mistakenly believe pirates to have been evil blackguards totally without honor or principles. While there was the occasional "character flaw", in general, pirates took their work quite seriously, and before a crew set off on a voyage, all members signed documents and swore oaths reflecting their dedication to their fellow crewmates and their promise to uphold the rules of the ship. Below is an example of such articles, used by Captain John Phillips on the pirate ship Revenge. These codes varied a little from ship to ship, but fundamentally they were the same.THE ARTICLES OF PIRACY:
ARTICLE 1: Every man shall obey civil command; the captain shall have one full share and a half in all prizes. the Master, Carpenter, Boatswain, and Gunner shall have one share and quarter.
ARTICLE 2: If any man shall offer to run away, or keep any secret from the Company, he shall be marroon'd with one bottle of powder, one bottle of Water, one small Arm, and shot.
ARTICLE 3: If any Man shall steal any Thing in the Company, or game, to the value of a piece of Eight, he shall be Marroon'd or shot.
ARTICLE 4: If at any Time we should meet at another Marrooner (that is, Pyrate) that man shall sign his Articles without Consent of our Company, shall suffer such Punishment as the Captain and Company shall think fit.
ARTICLE 5: That a man that shall strike another, whilst these Articles are in force, shall receive Moses' Law (that is 40 Stripes lacking one) on the bare Back.
ARTICLE 6: That Man that shall snap his Arms, or smoak tobacco in the Hold, without cap to his Pipe, or carry a candle lighted without lanthorn, shall suffer the same Punishment as in the former Article.
ARTICLE 7: That Man that shall not keep his Arms clean, fit for an engagement, or neglect his business, shall be cut off from his Share, and suffer such other Punishment as the Captain and Company shall think fit.
ARTICLE 8: If any man shall lose a joint in time of Engagement, shall have 400 Pieces of Eight: if a limb, 800.
ARTICLE 9: If at any time you meet with a prudent Woman, that Man that offers to meddle with her, without her Consent, shall suffer Death.
Yohoho! It's a Pirate's life for me! ARRR!!!