Although we have been exploring the desert with our tables, today we shall return to pirates as our main focus since this is International Talk Like a Pirate Weekend. If you aren't familiar with this "famous" pirate holiday, then please visit the link above and learn about International Talk Like a Pirate Day. 'Tis a lot of fun for all who dare participate. In today's age we idolize the age of pirates. We see them as spirited rebels and make them into mascots, cartoons, and movie heroes without giving much thought to their true nature or their brutal, criminal ways. At Black Shark Enterprises, we don't seek to hide inconvenient truths about history, so our table today is a list of 20 different tortures performed by pirates and their ilk over the many centuries. If you've been following our desert series of tables, don't worry. We'll return to the desert next time with a look at the Upper Class Citizens in our desert city.
Cat-o-Nine Tails - being flogged with a nine-strand whip where each strand is tipped in metal.
Marooning- being abandoned on a small island or reef.
Throwing Overboard - not so much a torture as necessity sometimes, there's only so much food and water.
Keelhauling - being tied to two ropes, one on either side of the ship, and then thrown overboard on one side of the ship to be passed under the keel and then dragged back aboard on the other side. The victim bounces and slides along the barnacle-covered hull of the ship. Most didn't survive.
Walking the Plank - likely more of a threat or a psychological torture than a real one. There is only one case of "walking the plank" in the historical records of piracy.
Selling into Slavery - while the victims clearly see this as a torture, the pirates view this only as capitalizing on a situation. It's only business; it's nothing personal.
Dunking - tying a victim to a spar or the bowsprit and allowing the movement of the ship to repeatedly dunk them into the water.
Clapping in Irons - putting manacles on a victim's arms and legs and then tossing them into the hold. The added weight and restriction of the mancles makes moving around nearly impossible.
Sweating - tying the victim loosely to the mast and making him "dance around" to avoid being stabbed or cut by members of the crew menacing him.
Hanging - tying the victim's arms to a spar and then suspending his body weight from that spar. Chinese pirates also beat victims with rattan sticks while hanging them like this.
Tying to the Mast - tying a victim tightly to the mast and basically just ignoring them for days. Just one of many exposure-type tortures.
Rape - self-explanatory
Monk Racing - monks (or other prisoners if monks can't be found) are used as mounts by various members of the crew in an overland race. The winning "mount" often got to live.
Monk Jousting - monks (or other prisoners if monks can't be found) are used as mounts while nobles or gentlemen are sat astride them. The riders are given weapons and the winning team gets to live.
Branding / Torture with a Hot Iron - pirates were often branded when captured by the authorities, thus torturing with a hot iron became a popular torture for those who had branded others.
Burying in the Sand - another torture involved burying a victim in the sand below the high tide line, but leaving their head above the ground. When the tide comes all the way in, they will drown.
Woolding - wrapping a piece of rope or cord around a victims head to create an almost tight loop and then using a belaying pin inserted into the loop to twist it tighter and tighter until the victims' skull is crushed and their eyes shoot right out of their head and across the deck.
The Gauntlet - forcing a victim to run through a space between two lines of facing crewmen, allowing each crewman to club, punch, or strike the victim once while they move down the line.
Feet Nailed to the Deck and Beaten - again, no real explanation is needed here. This is just as horrible as it sounds. Add that the victim would be repeatedly "washed" with salt water.
Scalding - usually scalding was done by pouring heated or boiling water onto the victim. This assumes you want them to live; sometimes scalding was done with molten silver or gold.
OK. That was a horrible list, but one question remains. Why did pirates torture people? Here are some of the reasons. Mind you, none of them are good reasons.
Revenge - The original buccaneers were French settlers whose settlement was razed by the Spanish. During the 1500's, the Spanish destroyed ALL settlements and merchants in the new world that were NOT Spanish. This lead to many hard feelings.
Treasure - The MAIN reason pirates tortured people was to find out where they hid their valuables.
Information - Sometimes pirates tortured people to gain information about other ships or troops.
Business - Sometimes torturing people was a way of sending a message that it was best to just surrender when you see a certain black flag, rather than fight back. Remember, it's just a business.
Pleasure - Sometimes pirates were just sick and twisted individuals who enjoyed torturing people.
We should all be happy that we live in a more civilized time. If you still have the stomach for celebrating pirates, then click on the link below and check out our products. Happy International Talk Like a Pirate Weekend lads and lasses, may ye find and plunder as much booty as ye want this holiday!