By and large, the modern person doesn’t live a very thrilling life. They go to work, they go home, they sleep the weekend away, and then they start the whole cycle all over again on Monday.
But things weren’t always that way. Back in as early as the 16th century, pirates roamed the high seas, robbing and plundering with zestful abandon. For a pirate, every single day was an adventure and every day could be their last.
Having an adventurous life didn’t mean that they were lawless, however. Pirates lived by a very serious code and when you see what they wouldn’t stand for, you’ll be super surprised.
1. Rank has its privileges: Any time a group of pirates returned from plundering some scallawags, all of the loot (or booty, if you will) was collected and counted. Once a total was recorded it would be divided and distributed to the men. The size of their portion was directly determined by the rank they held on the vessel.
2. One man, one vote: Every man regardless of their rank on the ship, got a vote of “affairs of the moment” and that included the appointment of the ship’s officers. Once the votes were counted, that was that. That didn’t mean the ship was a democracy when it came to punishment, though. The captain determined that sort of thing.
3. Food and drink for all: When you’re at sea, rations of food and water are critical. That’s why, according to the pirate code, any and all food and water were divided up equally between the men. This also went for any alcohol they found, because if there was one thing they valued more than staying alive, it was staying drunk.
4. Theft is punishable by death or marooning: Once a ship had been successfully plundered, the men were allowed to take any and all personal items they liked from the ship. However, anything like gold or jewelry had to go into the common pot. Get caught slipping something shiny in your pocket and prepare to pay the price.
5. No fighting allowed: Fighting among pirates was strictly forbidden while you were on the ship. Violate this, and get 40 lashes courtesy of the captain. Most disputes between pirates were settled once they got to shore where swords and guns were fair play.
6. Keep your arms ready: Just because you weren’t allowed to fight with each other on board, that didn’t mean that there was no fighting in a pirate’s life. Thanks to their frequent attacks on unsuspecting vessels, every pirate was expected to have a cleaned and loaded pistol at the ready in addition to a well-sharpened blade.
7. Workmen’s compensation: If you lost a limb while doing your pirate duty you would be compensated with 800 pieces of “eight.” At the time, a piece of eight was worth 1/8th of a dollar. That makes $100 for losing a leg or an arm. Accounting for inflation, that is about $2,954.77, so… still not a lot for the loss of a body part.
8. No sex on board: It didn’t matter if women or men were your partners of choice, you were not allowed to sneak people onto the ship for the purposes of engaging in coitus. If you were caught doing so, your punishment would be left up to the Captain.
9. Everybody fights: While fighting with other crew members was frowned upon, when the pirates went into battle, everyone fought. If you didn’t and were deemed cowardly, the crew voted on your punishment, which ranged from losing your share of the next pot of treasure to death.
10. No gambling: While we often think of pirates as being passionate gamblers, none was allowed on the ship itself. Any and all games of cards and dice were reserved for the times when they got off the boat and had a chance to spend the money they had worked so hard to earn.
Who knew that the pirates of yore had such a serious code of conduct? It’s crazy to think about the fact that these outlaws actually laid out rules and expected them to be followed.
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