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Time Periods => Middle Ages => Topic started by: Karl Helweg on July 23, 2017, 12:14:51 PM

Title: Medieval Pirates
Post by: Karl Helweg on July 23, 2017, 12:14:51 PM

Didrik Pining (1428-1491)


Didrik Pining was a notable German pirate who is believed to have been born around 1428 in Hildesheim in Germany. Hanseatic records place him a privateer or a captain working in the service of Hamburg until 1468. He was tasked with hunting down and capturing English merchant ships in the North Atlantic Ocean. Pining and his partner Hans Pothorst were known by the Hanseatic League as “pirates who did much damage to Hanse towns.” He went into the service of Denmark until Christian I of Denmark and his son John of Denmark from 1468 till 1478. It was during this period that Pining and Pothorst are said to have been distinguished as “not less as capable seamen than as matchless freebooters.”

One of the main reasons that Didrik Pining is remembered today is because some believe that Pining and Pothorst reached North America twenty years before Christopher Columbus did. In the early 1470s Pining was made leader of an expedition northward toward Greenland. He was with Porthorst and other Portuguese explorers on the long expedition. The expedition started in Bergen and then went through Iceland and continued on to Greenland and after which they discovered the “Land of Codfish” which is presumed to be Newfoundland or Labrador. In 1478 Pining was appointed Governor of Iceland which some argue was a reward for discovering the “Land of the Codfish.” The idea remains contested and debated among scholars.

From 1478 until 1481, Didrik Pining enjoyed his time as Governor of Iceland. In 1481, he was said to have “fared out of Iceland” but he was present at the funeral of King Christian I of Denmark. In 1484, he and his men were accused of having raped women and stolen money from farmers. the accusations did not stop him from becoming knighted in Norway and having a personal coat of arms which featured a grappling hook. It also did not prevent him from becoming governor over all of Iceland in 1489. His godson and nephew would succeed him in 1490.  Throughout this period, he continued his life of piracy, patrolling the North Atlantic waters and playing a major roe lint eh Anglo-Danish War. Hans Pothorst was always by his side through all of his sea-faring adventures.

In 1484, he captured three ships which he brought to King John of Denmark. After which he joined John in Bergen where he was made admiral of the royal fleet. As part of his new position he led the fleet to the island of Gotland and secured it for Denmark in 1487. Pining either died or was killed in 1491 somewhere around Finnmark or the North Cape.


Title: Re: Medieval Pirates
Post by: Karl Helweg on July 23, 2017, 12:24:38 PM
Klaus Störtebeker (1360-1401)

Klaus Störtebeker is credited as being Germany’s most famous pirate, despite this there are very few facts that are known about his life. His name, Störtebeker, is his surname and his nickname, as it has the meaning “empty the mug with one gulp” in Low Saxon. Apparently the name was given to him because of his ability to empty a four-litre mug of beer in a single gulp. He was born in Wismar sometime around 1360 but he did not really start making a name for himself until 1398. He was part of the Victual Brothers and it was during their expulsion from the Baltic island of Gotland that Störtebeker first enters into public record.

In the years following the expulsion, Störtebeker and other pirates captured a number of Hanseatic ships with little care to where they came from. Störtebeker was known to have a strong hold in Marienhafe, East Frisia starting in 1396. There is a tower at the Evangelical Lutheran Marienkirche in Marienhafe that still bears the name Störtebeker. With those being the only known facts about Störtebeker it is strange to think he has become so famous throughout Germany but much of that is attributed to the legend that surrounds him.

Legend says that in 1401 a Hamburgian fleet under the command of Simon of Utrecht crossed paths with Störtebeker’s force somewhere near Heligoland. Some stories suggest that Störtebeker’s ship had been sabotaged by a traitor who had poured molten lead into the links of the chain that controlled the rudder of the ship. Whatever was the case with the ship Störtebeker and his entire crew were captured. They were taken to Hamburg where they were put on trial for charges of piracy. Störtebeker and the 73 men in his crew were all sentenced to death by beheading. This is where the real legend of Störtebeker begins.

It is said that Störtebeker asked the mayor of Hamburg to spare as many of his men as he could walk by after being beheaded. The mayor was said to agree to the request and Störtebeker was beheaded. After his beheading, he was able to walk past 11 men before the executioner tripped him. The mayor still went ahead with the executions of the 11 men along with the rest of the crew. In a small bit of karma when the executioner was asked if he was tired after performing 73 executions. He replied that he could easily kill the entire Senate, he was sentenced to death and executed. The legend also says that after his execution, his ship was dismantled and it was found that the core of his masts were gold, silver and copper. The gold core was used to create the tip of St. Catherine’s church in Hamburg.


Title: Re: Medieval Pirates
Post by: Karl Helweg on July 23, 2017, 12:51:42 PM

Hayreddin Barbarossa  (1478 – 4 July 1546)

He began his naval career as a Barbary pirate, alongside his brothers, raiding Christian coastal villages and seizing ships across the Mediterranean. Khair-ed-Din, also known as Hayreddin Barbarossa, was so successful as a corsair that he managed to become the ruler of Algiers, and then the chief admiral of the Ottoman Turkish navy under Suleiman the Magnificent. Barbarossa started life as a simple potter's son, and rose to lasting piratical fame.

Khair-ed-Din was born sometime in the late 1470s or early 1480s in the village of Palaiokipos, on the Ottoman-controlled Greek island of Midilli. His mother Katerina was likely a Greek Christian, while his father Yakup is of uncertain ethnicity - different sources state that he was Turkish, Greek, or Albanian. In any case, Khair was the third of their four sons.

Yakup was a potter, who purchased a boat to help him sell his goods all around the island and beyond. His sons all learned to sail as part of the family business. As young men, sons Ilyas and Aruj operated their father's boat, while Khair bought a ship of his own; they all began operating as privateers in the Mediterranean.

Between 1504 and 1510, Aruj used his fleet of ships to help ferry Moorish Muslim refugees from Spain to North Africa after the Christian Reconquista and the fall of Granada. The refugees referred to him as Baba Aruj or "Father Aruj," but Christians heard the name as Barbarossa, which is Italian for "Redbeard."  As it happened, Aruj and Khair both had red beards, so the western nickname stuck.


In 1516, Khair and his older brother Aruj led a sea and land invasion of Algiers, then under Spanish domination. The local amir, Salim al-Tumi, had invited them to come and free his city, with assistance from the Ottoman Empire. The brothers defeated the Spanish and drove them from the city, and then assassinated the amir.


Aruj took power as the new Sultan of Algiers, but his position was not secure. He accepted an offer from the Ottoman sultan Selim I to make Algiers part of the Ottoman Empire; Aruj became the Bey of Algiers, a tributary ruler under Istanbul's control. The Spanish killed Aruj in 1518, however, at the capture of Tlemcen, and Khair took on both the beyship of Algiers and the nickname "Barbarossa."

Title: Re: Medieval Pirates
Post by: Karl Helweg on November 22, 2019, 02:22:15 PM
Sayyida al Hurra


A contemporary and ally of the Turkish pirate Barbarossa, Sayyida al-Hurra was a pirate queen and was the last woman awarded the title of al Hurra (Queen), following the death of her husband who had ruled Tétouan, Morocco. In fact, her real name is unknown. Sayyida al Hurra is a title that translates to “noble lady who is free and independent; the woman sovereign who bows to no superior authority.”

She ruled from 1515-1542, controlling the western Mediterranean Sea with her pirate fleet while Barbarossa roamed the eastern side. Al Hurra's inspiration to take to piracy came from a wish for revenge against the "Christian enemy" she felt had wronged her years before when Catholic monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella ran her Muslim family out of Granada. She was a feared figure for the Spanish and Portuguese, whose historical records are peppered with paperwork involving reports about her exploits and ransoms.

At the height of her power, al-Hurra remarried to the king of Morocco, yet refused to give up her seat of power in Tétouan. But in 1542, she was given no choice when her son-in-law overthrew her. The Yemen Times weighs in on her final chapter, writing, "She was stripped of her property and power and her subsequent fate is unknown."

Title: Re: Medieval Pirates
Post by: Karl Helweg on November 22, 2019, 02:27:27 PM
Jeanne de Clisson aka The Lioness Of Brittany


Jeanne de Clisson's tale is one of tragedy, revenge and the showmanship. As the wife of Olivier III de Clisson, Jeanne was a happily married mother of five, and a lady of Brittany, France. But when land wars between England and France led to her husband being charged with treason and punished with decapitation, she swore revenge on the France's King Philip VI.

The widowed de Clisson sold all of her land to buy three warships, which she dubbed her Black Fleet. These were painted black, draped with blood red sails, and crewed with merciless privateers. From 1343-1356, the Lioness of Brittany sailed the English Channel, capturing the French King's ships, cutting down his crew, and beheading with an axe any aristocrat who had the misfortune to be onboard. Remarkably, despite all her theft and bloodshed, de Clisson retired quietly. She even remarried, settling down with English lieutenant Sir Walter Bentley.

Believed to have died in 1359, some say she has since returned to de Clisson Castle in Brittany, where her grey ghost walks the halls.   
Title: Re: Medieval Pirates
Post by: Karl Helweg on December 06, 2019, 02:19:47 PM

Captain John Crabbe

Flemish pirate/adventurer best known for his successful use of a ship-mounted catapult. Once won the favor of Robert the Bruce and acted as a naval officer for England during the Hundred Years' War (after being captured by King Edward III.)

This link has some other lesser known English pirates of the 1400s:
Title: Re: Medieval Pirates
Post by: Karl Helweg on December 26, 2019, 04:13:49 PM
Eustace the Monk   ( Eustache le Moine; c. 1170 – 24 August 1217)

(  (

Eustace was born a younger son of Baudoin Busket, a lord of the county of Boulogne. According to his biography, he went to Toledo, Spain, and studied black magic there. The author of the Histoire des Ducs de Normandie wrote in Eustace's own day, "No one would believe the marvels he accomplished, nor those which happened to him many times." He later returned home to become a Benedictine monk at St Samer Abbey near Calais, and then left the monastery to avenge his murdered father. Other evidence, however, suggests that his father's death occurred soon after 1190. That evidence proves that by 1202, Eustace was the seneschal and bailiff of the count of Boulogne, Renaud de Dammartin, and that in c. 1204, the two quarrelled and, accused of mishandling his stewardship, Eustace fled and was declared an outlaw. Renaud confiscated his lands and fields; Eustace burned two mills in retaliation.

Title: Re: Medieval Pirates
Post by: Karl Helweg on February 10, 2020, 03:04:01 PM

Grace O’Malley, The 16th Century Pirate Queen of Ireland

    Grace O'Malley was Queen of Umaill, chieftain of the O Maille clan, a rebel, seafarer, and fearless leader who challenged the turbulent politics of 16th century England and Ireland. While Irish legends have immortalized Grace as a courageous woman who overcame boundaries of gender imbalance and bias to fight for the independence of Ireland and protect it against the English crown; to the English, she was considered a brutal and thieving pirate, who controlled the coastlines through intimidation and plunder.

Through the course of her life, Grace raised and led armies, commanded a fleet of ships, was captured (twice), imprisoned, faced execution, secured her freedom (twice), fought pirates, was a master of political negotiation, and struck fear into one of the most powerful countries of the era – England. Yet, despite her accomplishments, Grace O’Malley was not remembered in Irish history . In The Annals of the Four Masters , the seminal source of Irish history compiled just a few years after her death and in a region where Grace was active, there is not one mention of her name. The only explanation for such an enormous omission from Ireland’s historical records is that Grace’s power was uncomfortable for the men of her era and in Catholic Ireland. Fortunately, thanks to the work of biographer Anne Chambers, Grace’s life has been pieced back together, largely from English state records, and she is now a much loved hero in Ireland.

Title: Re: Medieval Pirates
Post by: Karl Helweg on February 25, 2020, 02:53:28 PM
Jan Janszoon van Haarlem, aka Murat Reis the Younger


Jan Janszoon van Haarlem, commonly known as Murat Reis the Younger (c. 1570 – c. 1641), was a Dutch born fighter in the Ottoman Navy who converted to Islam after being captured by a Moorish state in 1618. He began serving as a Navy fighter, one of the most famous of the 17th-century "Salé Rovers". Together with other corsairs, he helped establish the independent Republic of Salé at the city of that name, serving as the first President and Grand Admiral. He also served as Governor of Oualidia.
Title: Re: Medieval Pirates
Post by: Karl Helweg on April 16, 2020, 02:39:21 PM

John Callis

(also known as John Callice) became a pirate in Britain where the Welsh coastline became his domain.

Born in the 1500’s in Monmouthshire, Callis moved to London when he was young and became a retailer. Soon afterwards, his professional ambitions changed and he joined the Navy. It was in this role that he would first start seizing and selling cargo. As he became more confident in his abilities, his piratical activities escalated.

This sixteenth century Welsh pirate was particularly active in the region of South Wales, between Cardiff and Haverfordwest. He would spend his time selling his stolen cargo in the villages along the way such as Laugharne and Carew.

His piratical career lasted for decades before pressure from neighbouring countries forced to English government to take action and managed to capture him in 1576.
The elderly pirate attempted to assist authorities in tracking down other pirates in exchange for his release, however the authorities refused his offer and he was hanged in Newport later that year.   This article gives an interesting account of piracy at the time.   

Title: Re: Medieval Pirates
Post by: Karl Helweg on April 29, 2020, 03:23:04 PM

Yermak Timofeyevich

Ерма́к Тимофе́евич, IPA:  born between 1532 and 1542 – August 5 or 6, 1585) was a Cossack ataman and is today a hero in Russian folklore and myths. In the reign of Tsar Ivan the Terrible Yermak started the Russian conquest of Siberia.

Yermak worked in the Stroganovs' river fleet as a porter and a sailor transporting salt along the Kama and the Volga rivers. Growing tired of his work, he assembled a gang, left his employment, and moved to the Don region to become a river pirate using flat bottom boats. Among his fellow Cossack bandits, he acquired the nickname Yermak ("mill stone").

Russians' fur-trade interests fueled their desire to expand east into Siberia. The Tatar khanate of Kazan was established as the best entryway into Siberia. In 1552, Ivan the Terrible's modernized army toppled the khanate. After the takeover of Kazan, the tsar looked to the powerful and affluent Stroganov merchant family to spearhead the eastward expansion. In the late 1570s, the Stroganovs recruited Cossack fighters to invade Asia on behalf of the tsar. These Cossacks elected Yermak as the leader of their armed forces, and in 1582 Yermak set out with an army of 840 to attack the Khanate of Sibir.

On October 26, 1582, Yermak and his soldiers overthrew Kuchum Khan's Tatar empire at Qashliq in a battle that marked the "conquest of Siberia". Yermak remained in Siberia and continued his struggle against the Tatars until 1584, when a raid organized by Kuchum Khan ambushed and killed him and his party.

Title: Re: Medieval Pirates
Post by: Karl Helweg on April 29, 2020, 05:16:05 PM

Magnus Heinason

Magnus Heinason (Mogens Heinesųn) (1548 – 18 January 1589) was a Faroese naval hero, trader, and "privateer."  Son of a priest converted to Lutheranism, Heine Havreki.

Magnus Heinason served William the Silent and his son Maurice of Nassau, Prince of Orange for 10 years as a privateer, fighting the Spanish in the Dutch Revolt. Magnus Heinason was given the trading rights to the Faroe Islands by King Frederick II of Denmark and Norway from 1559 to 1588. Later he received letters of marque to sink or capture pirate ships and English merchant ships.

After the Scottish pirate Klerck's 1579 raid, Magnus built the first fortifications in Tórshavn in 1580. He requested that the king should allow him to arm his merchant ships with cannons so that he could fight the pirates or at least take them prisoner and then take them on shore for trial.  Magnus Heinason was engaged three times and married twice. Magnus had a son with a Faroese lady Kollfina around 1560. Rasmus Magnussen (1560–1670) lived to the age of 110 years, and at the age of 103 he became the father of a son.   :D

Only one year later, he was captured and sent to Copenhagen on the orders of the Danish treasurer and statholder, Christoffer Walkendorf (1525–1601) who was ruling Denmark after the sudden death of Frederick II. Magnus Heinason was tried, and was beheaded 18th January 1589. His widow, Sofie von Günsterberg, and his business partner Hans Lindenov (d. 1610) contested this act and brought the matter to an assembly of nobles (Herrendag) at the seaport of Kolding. Magnus Heinason's death sentence was declared void on 6th of August 1590 and  he was rehabilitated posthumously.   Valkendorff was suspended from his duties and was forced to pay 3,000 Reichsthaler to the heirs. Magnus Heinason's remains were exhumed and taken to Ųrslev Kloster (Ųrslevkloster) on Lindenov's estate where they lie under the floor of the monastery church until this day.
Title: Re: Medieval Pirates
Post by: Karl Helweg on July 10, 2020, 05:50:47 PM
Barnim VI, Duke of Pomerania

Pirates may be seen as brigands and ruffians, but the concept of an aristocratic German pirate might be new to many people. Among the interesting individuals amongst the different categories of German pirates to patrol and plunder the waters of Northern Europe, the Duke of Pomerania-Wolgast, Barnim VI was a scheming marauder of aristocratic origin who held his title from 1394-1405. Efficient and organized, his piratic exploits even saw him establish a port and also a fort in Ahrenshoop, from which he conducted sea raids. After being singled out for supporting and facilitating “Likedeeler” raids in the Baltic Sea against the Hanseatic league trade and defense vessels, providing the ruffians with refuge areas in the form of the Peene River for winter and the Bay of Griefswald as an operations base, the Duke signed a treaty with the Teutonic Knights under their pressure to cease his attacks.

Out of the spotlight but not content to give up the pirate business, the Duke subsequently went on to engage in numerous acts of piracy on his own time. Ultimately, the Duke’s game caught up with him when he was captured by the Hanseatic League in the port of Kopenhagen. After his release, Barnim VI helped the dukes of Mecklenburg-Werle in their sieges of the German City of Lübeck, where he was eventually injured. On a pilgrimage to Kenz to dodge the risk of Black Death, the Duke, ironically, contracted the Black Death during the journey and died. He was then buried in Kenz and a likeness of the pirate of noble heritage constructed from wood was erected.,_Duke_of_Pomerania

Title: Re: Medieval Pyrates
Post by: Karl Helweg on July 29, 2020, 05:20:20 PM

Pier Gerlofs Donia aka Grutte Pier

On 29 January 1515, the Black Band Landsknechts entered Grutte Pier's village. The arrival of these German mercenaries made people tremble with fear. During the 16th century the Black Band Landsknechts were one of the most feared soldiers on Europe’s battlefields.

In Grutte Pier’s village, the Black Band Landsknechts burned the church and Donia's estate. They murdered and plundered. Rintze Syrtsema, wife of Grutte Pier, was raped and killed.

Seeking revenge, Grutte Pier allied himself with Charles of Egmond, Duke of Gueldersand started a guerrilla war campaign against the House of Habsburg, also called the House of Austria. Grutte Pier blamed the Habsburg authorities for the events because they had employed the murderous regiment.

Grutte Pier targeted ships that travelled the Zuiderzee and was very active in 1517, when he used his "signal ships" to attack ships in the region of the West Frisian coast, to which he also transported Geldrian forces, setting them ashore at Medemblik. Pier bore a personal enmity to Medemblik and its inhabitants as, in earlier years, soldiers from Medemblik had cooperated with the Holland army commanded by Duke Charles, the future Emperor. In March 1498, Medemblik was where representatives of the Schieringers met the Saxon ruler duke Albrecht to request Saxon protection from the Vetkopers—a request that resulted in the Saxon occupation of Friesland, Netherlands. On 24 June 1517, Grutte Pier and his Arumer Zwarte Hoop, consisting of some 4,000 soldiers from Frisia and Guelders, sailed to West Frisia, passing Enkhuizen, landing near Wervershoof and advancing to Medemblik. They swiftly captured Medemblik, killing many inhabitants and taking many others prisoner. Some were released on payment of a high ransom. Some of the town's inhabitants fled and found safety at Kasteel Radboud. The castle's governor, Joost van Buren, succeeded in keeping the aggressors outside the castle walls. Unable to take the castle, the Arumer Zwarte Hoop plundered the town and set it on fire. With most houses made of wood, the town, including the church, monastery and town hall, was razed. After this partial victory, Pier and his army stormed both Nieuwburg and Middleburg Castle near Alkmaar, plundered and set them on fire, leaving only ruins.

In 1519, Grutte Pier retired and his Lieutenant Wijerd Jelckama took command over the the Arumer Zwarte Hoop. The peasant rebels fought for some years until they were finally captured and executed in 1523.

Grutte Pier died peacefully on 18 October 1520. Though he no sons, he has many descendants through his daughter, Wobel. His tomb is located in the city of Sneek.


Title: Re: Medieval Pirates
Post by: Karl Helweg on August 20, 2020, 01:30:17 PM

Peter Easton  -  The English/Canadian/Savoy Pirate

Peter Easton (also known as Peter Eston) was an English pirate that became known not only as one of the most notorious pirates from this country but also as one of the most successful pirates of all time. Born around 1570, he became known to authorities as a sea pirate during his plundering career that ranged between 1611 and 1614. During that time, he managed to achieve a thing that few pirates in history have managed to build in their lifetimes – to create such a formidable pirate fleet around him that he became more powerful than legitimate governments, sovereigns or other private forces of his time. Even more impressively, he managed to retire from piracy and live enjoying the incredible wealth he collected on the sea.

During his career as a pirate, Peter Easton was described not as a bloodthirsty monster bent on destruction at sea, but as a highly capable naval officer who was well-versed in tactic, leadership, and trade. He was often praised for being a brilliant navigator, brave, bold, and tactician that can extract the maximum from the ships and crew he possessed. These abilities helped him to gather around him a formidable force that helped him target more and more ambitious targets, all the while remaining in contact with English crown which tried several times to give him pardon and remove his dangerous presence from the sea.

    During height of his career, Peter Easton was regarded as the most successful Corsair of all time

Life as Privateer

Very little is known about the early life of Peter Easton, a man that would eventually become one of the most successful pirates of his time. He came from the family who had a rich history of supporting English Crown and being part of Crusades and various sea skirmishes against Spanish Armada. His first historical record of activity on the sea comes from 1602 when he was tasked by the commission from Elizabeth I of England to protect the English fishing fleet in Newfoundland against Spanish intrusions as a privateer. During those years, he actively protected English shipping and harassed Spanish merchants and fishermen (who were during that time also equipped for naval combat). His base of operation was located in Harbour Grace, Newfoundland and Labrador (today Canada), and his flagship ornamented with the Saint George’s Cross was named “Happy Adventure”.

Fall into Piracy

Lives of many English privateers were changed forever on 23 June 1604, when Elizabeth I was succeeded by James I who immediately sued for peace between England and Spain. This meant that all privateers suddenly became jobless, and many of them immediately turned to what they knew the best – piracy.

Peter Easton was one of those privateers who continued attacking Spanish assets in Atlantic as nothing has ever happened, which immediately turned him into a pirate. But he was not satisfied only with Atlantic coast near Canada. Under the financial backing of the powerful Canadian family of Killgrews, he continued harassing Spanish ships even in the Mediterranean, seeking gold and plunder that he could sell back in pirate havens in West Indies. When his fleet grew to the armada of 10 pirate ships, he started to actively attack even English targets, seeking more wealth and coercing more and more fishermen into his pirate crew.

Easton was considered as being an extremely successful pirate. During one campaign of piracy, he plundered more than 30 ships, managing to capture large wealth and several high-value captives. One of those captives was even sent to obtain to Easton an official government pardon from England for him and his entire crew, but by the time the pardon arrived at his home base of Harbour Grace, Easton moved to Barbary Coast where he continued to harass the Spanish. By that time, his pirate “crew” grew into an actual army that counted more than 1500 men. This force enabled him to execute even more daring plans, including an incredible attack on the Spanish plate fleet in the sea around the Azores. The details of this battle are lost to history, but what was remembered is that immediately after that event Easton appeared on the coast of Tunis bringing with himself incredible wealth and four large Spanish galleons.
James Cooks' general chart of Newfoundland

During his years of activity, Peter Easton held a reputation of the most dangerous and leading corsairs who fought against Spain. In a span of just a few years, he amassed one of the largest wealth in the history of piracy and was unmatched on the sea where he was never cornered or lost a battle against numerous fleets who were commissioned to hunt him down.

After several successful years on the sea, the English pardon finally reached Easton when he was anchored in the port of Villefranche, Savoy, which was then known as a free port and a haven of pirates. He elected to accept the pardon and gained the approval of the local Duke of Savoy who was very interested to take advantage of the very wealthy Easton who immediately purchased a mansion, a title of “Marquis of Savoy” and even found a wife. According to surviving documents, he remained in Savoy where he served the local duke until 1620 when history loses track of him. To this day, it is not known how Peter Easton lived the remainder of his life, and how or when he died.

Peter Easton Flag

Many pirate captains of the Golden Age of Piracy spread fear and chaos utilizing skills of theatric intimidation. One of most successful tactics of this kind was displaying of pirate flag while their ship neared the pray, giving time to defenders to properly grasp the seriousness of their situation. Before the so-called “Jolly Roger” flags become popular, and started featuring numerous ominous ornaments such as skulls, bones and weapons, pirate captain Peter Easton popularized very simple form of pirate flag – pure black flag. During his pirate career that made him one of the wealthiest and most successful pirates of all time on the Atlantic sea, the sight of Peter Easton’s pure black flag drove chills into the heart of any merchant or naval officer who saw it. Decades later, the tales of this flag served as a foundation for many other famous Jolly Rodger flags, such as those flown by Calico Jack Rackham (white skull with two interlocked swords), Sam Bellamy and Blackbeard (white skull with two interlocked bones).
Name   Peter Easton
Category   Pirate, Privateer
Nationality   English
Born   Around 1570
Active   1611-1614
Activity Region   Newfoundland, Mediterranean, Atlantic, West Indies
Died   Unknown
Rank   Captain
Ships   Happy Adventure


More on pirates in Savoy: 
Title: Re: Medieval Pirates
Post by: Karl Helweg on September 14, 2020, 07:19:35 PM
Baldassarre Cossa  aka (Anti)pope John XXIII

Baldassarre Cossa (c. 1370 – 22 December 1419) was Pisan antipope John XXIII (1410–1415) during the Western Schism. The Catholic Church regards him as an antipope, as he opposed Pope Gregory XII whom the Catholic Church now recognizes as the rightful successor of Saint Peter.

Baldassarre Cossa was born on the island of Procida in the Kingdom of Naples to the family of Giovanni Cossa, lord of Procida. Initially he followed a military career, taking part in the Angevin-Neapolitan war. His two brothers were sentenced to death for piracy by Ladislaus of Naples.

He studied law at the University of Bologna and obtained doctorates in both civil and canon law. Probably at the prompting of his family, in 1392 he entered the service of Pope Boniface IX, first working in Bologna and then in Rome. (The Western Schism had begun in 1378, and there were two competing popes at the time, one in Avignon supported by France and Spain, and one in Rome, supported by most of Italy, Germany and England.) In 1386 he is listed as canon of the cathedral of Bologna. In 1396, he became archdeacon in Bologna. He became Cardinal deacon of Saint Eustachius in 1402 and Papal legate in Romagna in 1403. Johann Peter Kirsch describes Cossa as "utterly worldly-minded, ambitious, crafty, unscrupulous, and immoral, a good soldier but no churchman". At this time Cossa also had some links with local robber bands, which were often used to intimidate his rivals and to make highwayman attacks on carriages. These connections added to his influence and power in the region.

In May 1408 Baldassare was one of the seven cardinals who deserted Pope Gregory XII, and convened the Council of Pisa.  Cossa became the leader of a group whose objective was to finally end the schism.  The result was silly beyond belief as they deposed Pope Gregory XII and Anti-Pope Benedict XIII and elected a third Pope Alexander V in 1409.  As the two existing popes – Gregory and Benedict – clearly enjoying their current positions of power – simply ignored this decision – there were now not just two Popes – but three!

During his absence John was deposed by the council, and upon his return he was tried for heresy, simony, schism and immorality, and found guilty on all counts. Gibbon wrote, "The more scandalous charges were suppressed; the vicar of Christ was accused only of piracy, rape, sodomy, murder and incest."

This piratical schism contributed to the Hussite Rebellion among other historical events.


(  His personal coat of arms and possible pirate flag?  This motto implies membership in the Odre du Croissant which was roughly the Italian equivalent of the English Order of the Garter. 

* Curiously the original coat-of-arms that I posted with his motto and nifty chaninmail collar-of-estate has disappeared(?)*  Here is the best that I can find now:
Title: Re: Medieval Pirates
Post by: Karl Helweg on October 12, 2020, 12:25:20 AM
Petar Kru˛ić   (Unknown - 1537)

He was a native of Krug in Nebljuh, a district of the same-titled tribe in the ˛upa of Lapac in Lika. However, later chroniclers, and historians, mostly for local patriotic reasons, tried to appropriate and present him as one of their countrymen because he enjoyed incredible popularity as an anti-Ottoman fighter, especially in the areas from which Klis defenders came

A body of these "Uskoks" led by Croatian Captain Petar Kru˛ić used the base at Klis both to hold the Turks at bay, and to engage in marauding and piracy against coastal shipping. Although nominally accepting the sovereignty of the Habsburg Emperor Ferdinand I, who obtained the Croatian crown in 1527, Kru˛ić and his freebooting Uskoks were a law unto themselves.


Title: Re: Medieval Pirates
Post by: Karl Helweg on December 27, 2020, 04:07:17 PM
Thorfinn Sigurdsson  aka Thorfinn the Mighty, Earl of Orkney (c 1009 - 1065)

One viking era pirate was the grandson of Malcolm, King of Scots. Earl Thorfinn began his raids at the age of fifteen, and became noted for his courage and tactical abilities. Tall, strong, and ugly, he craved fame. He often raided with his nephew, Rognvald.

Perhaps the most noted of the Orkney raiders was Svein Asleifarson. After his five ships raided the Hebrides, he headed for Dublin. Along the way he captured two merchant ships laden with broadcloth. Upon his return to Orkney, Svein made awnings from the broadcloth and stitched it to his sails to give the appearance that they were made of fine fabric. Doing so earned the raid the name "the broadcloth viking trip.'"

On his last raid, he left Orkney with seven longships. Finding little plunder in the Hebrides, Svein and his men plundered settlements along the coast of Ireland until they reached Dublin. They took the town before the people even knew the pirates were there. The Dubliners offered to pay Svein whatever he wanted, but only the next day. During the night, they dug deep pits in strategic places, then camouflaged them with branches and straw. In the morning, when Svein and his men came to collect, the Dubliners positioned themselves so that the Norse fell into the pits where they were slain.

Title: Re: Medieval Pirates
Post by: Karl Helweg on February 13, 2021, 06:03:23 PM
Sir Andrew Barton  (c. 1466 – 2 August 1511)

Andrew Barton was a Scottish sailor from Leith, who served as High Admiral of the Kingdom of Scotland.
Some of Andrew Barton’s trading voyages to Flanders ports in the 1490s are recorded in the Ledger of Andrew Halyburton. He was the oldest of three brothers, a younger brother Robert Barton of Over Barnton became Lord High Treasurer of Scotland.
Andrew became notorious in England and Portugal as a ‘pirate’, though as a seaman who operated under the aegis of a letter of marque on behalf of the Scottish crown, he may be described as a privateer. The letter of marque against Portuguese shipping was originally granted to his father John Barton by James III of Scotland before 1485. John’s ships had been attacked by Portuguese vessels when he was trading at Sluis in Flanders.
James IV revived the letters in July 1507. When Andrew Barton, sailing in the Lion tried to take reprisals against Portuguese ships in 1508, he was detained by Dutch authorities at Veere. James IV had to write to Maximilian, the Holy Roman Emperor, and others to get him released in 1509. Andrew then took a Portuguese ship which carried an English cargo, leading to more difficulties, and James IV had to suspend the letter of marque for a year.Andrew captured a ship of Antwerp in 1509, the Fasterinsevin (the Shrove Tuesday), which did not come within his letter of marque. James IV ordered him to recompense the captain Peter Lempson and his officers for her cargo of woad and canvas.
The Bartons were in demand to support John, King of Denmark, and were allowed by him to harass the shipping of Lübeck. In return for this service, John of Denmark sent James IV timber for the masts of his ships from Flensburg. Andrew joined John’s service briefly in the spring of 1511, but sailed away without permission, also taking a ship that James IV had given to John.
Later in 1511, Andrew Barton was cruising the English coast looking for Portuguese prizes when he and his ships the Lion and Jenny Pirwyn were captured after a fierce battle with Sir Edward Howard and his brother Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk, off Kent at the Downs. According to the story told in ballads, Andrew was subsequently beheaded. If true, such action would perhaps have been illegal because Barton possessed a letter of marque. Contemporary English and Scottish chronicle accounts agree that Andrew died of wounds received in the fight.

I am hurt but I am not slain.
I’ll lay me down and bleed awhile,
Then I’ll rise and fight again


The ballad:
Title: Re: Medieval Pirates
Post by: Karl Helweg on June 21, 2021, 02:09:30 PM
Roberto Baal

Roberto Baal was a French pirate who raided the Spanish colonial city of Cartagena, Columbia in 1551(source) receiving a possible 200.00 pesos in ransom for the governor.


Title: Re: Medieval Pirates
Post by: Karl Helweg on October 09, 2021, 10:22:28 PM
(King/Emperor) Eric of Pomerania (1381 - 1459)

"When King Erik VII of Denmark was forced from the throne, he did the only thing any self-respecting descendant of Vikings could: He joined the warriors of the sea, and hit right back at his enemies."