Democratic Duels?

WORLD

Yes, they had to yank eyeballs from sockets and beating hearts from chests, but pirates had voting rights and were compensated for injury. (Nat Geo News)

Check out our collection on historic and contemporary pirates and piracy.

Teachers, scroll down for a quick list of key resources in our Teachers’ Toolkit, and a round-up of other interesting reads this week—from the Tour de France to Greek austerity to Rwandan refugees.

Pirate expert Robert Kurson says there is “some truth” to the popular image of pirates, evidenced in this gorgeous painting by N.C. Wyeth. Learn more about the “Duel on the Beach” here. Painting by N.C. Wyeth, courtesy National Geographic

Pirate expert Robert Kurson says there is “some truth” to the popular image of pirates, evidenced in this gorgeous painting by N.C. Wyeth. Learn more about the “Duel on the Beach” here.
Painting by N.C. Wyeth, courtesy National Geographic

Discussion Ideas

  • According to Nat Geo News, “plenty of shipwrecks are found every year.” Why are pirate shipwrecks so rare?
    • They’re probably not. A lot of discovered and undiscovered wrecks may be pirate ships, but pirates were outlaws and didn’t really identify their vessels as pirate ships. As Robert Kurson, author of Pirate Hunters: Treasure, Obsession and the Search for a Legendary Pirate Ship, says in the article, “pirates were about stealth. They were about being invisible. They were outlaws and belonged to no country, so they never filed crew lists or paperwork. If they sank or got captured, no government or navy went looking for them. Many pirate ships were also converted merchant ships, so if someone happened to find a wreck later on, it would be very difficult to identify it as a pirate ship. You might find cannons, muskets or coins, but those were being traded by any number of merchant ships. Proving a wreck is a pirate ship is virtually impossible.”

 

  • Why does pirate expert Robert Kurson say pirate ships were “democratic”?
    • On pirate ships (unlike military vessels), “captains took a vote on everything: where to go, who to steal from, how to steal it, where to go next, what to do with prisoners. The captain’s vote didn’t count any more than the lowliest deck hand’s.” Pirate crews could even vote out their captain.
    • Pirates had a constitution and even compensation schemes for injuries. The captain almost never earned more than two or three times the wage of the lowliest deck hand.

 

  • Treasure hunters describe their search as “mowing the lawn.” What is the “lawn”? What do they use as a mower?
    • The “lawn” is the seafloor.
    • The “mower” is a magnetometer, which locates iron-rich objects such as anchors, coins, and navigation instruments.
Use a magnetometer to “mow the lawn” and find the sunken treasure with our fun game!

Use a magnetometer to “mow the lawn” and find the sunken treasure with our fun game!

TEACHERS’ TOOLKIT

Nat Geo: When Not Treasure Hunting, Pirates Practiced Democracy article

Nat Geo: Pirates and Piracy collection

Nat Geo: Find the Sunken Treasure game

 

 

THIS WEEK AROUND NAT GEO

THIS WEEK AROUND THE WEB

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