Piracy and Privateering in the Early Modern Period

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A sunny afternoon at sea on the twenty-fourth of April, 1715. You are the master of merchant vessel plying off of Barbados. Suddenly, a call from above: 'black sails on the horizon! Pirates!' Your tiny ship is boarded without a fight and your entire crew is thrown overboard.

You are approached by the fearsome pirate captain. Because you are the master of the ship and, let's face it, times have been hard for the pirates and they need more crew mates, you may be of some use to them. But first, your knowledge of piracy and privateering must be tested. Can you pass their test and save yourself from Davey Jones' Locker? Or will you walk the plank? Take the quiz and find out!

Created by: Murdoch/Abernethy

  1. True or false: 'letters of reprisal' were only issued in wartime.
  2. In what year was Andrew Barton executed for piracy?
  3. What were the names of Andrew Barton's two ships?
  4. Which two brothers did Andrew Barton fight in his last battle?
  5. Who was the Lord High Admiral of Scotland between 1557 and 1567?
  6. In what year did Francis Drake captured The Spanish Train at 'Nombre de Dios?'
  7. In what year did Francis Drake begin his circumnavigation of the world?
  8. What name is given to Drake's raid against Cadiz in 1587?
  9. What is the name of Francis Drake's most famous ship?
  10. What caused Francis Drake's death in 1596?
  11. Which famous German pirate led a gang known as the 'the Victual Brother [Vitalienbrüder]?'
  12. Which song covered by Nina Simone (among others) features in the Kurt Weills 1928 'The Threepenny Opera' and is based on the Irish pickpocket Jenny Driver?
  13. In 1523 the Hanseatic cities of Lubeck and Hamburg hired 10 ships to hunt down which notorious Danish pirate?
  14. Which two Scottish privateers did the above pirate hope to recruit to help him?
  15. Which famous lawyer described pirates as those 'whose gain is dishonorable and which is acquired by individuals who despoil others through privately exercised force and without urgent reason for so doing?
  16. In which year did Anna of Denmark finally persuade Professor William Welwood to publish 'De Dominio Maris' (On Possession of the Sea)?
  17. Who is said to have coined the term 'privateer' in the English language?
  18. True or false: privateers were mostly 'legalized pirates.'
  19. Which international treaty ostensibly rendered letters of reprisal obsolete?
  20. According to 'Balfour's Practicks,' what sentence should be passed on a neutral ship carrying a partial cargo belonging to an enemy?
  21. What was the name of the English captain who fought two Dutch men-of-war outside Aberdeen harbor in 1623?
  22. On 19 July 1643, James Brown and James Blair received letters of marque for use against Irish Confederate shipping. What was unusual about their commissions?
  23. To which governing body were the 'Scotch Guard' answerable between 1644-1646?
  24. To which Irish port did Prince Rupert move his fleet in 1649?
  25. What was the name of Dutch privateer captain who attempted to destroy the Scottish privateering fleet in 1667?
  26. Which Norwegian town did Scottish privateers land in and steal the toll chest of?
  27. What year did James VII&II cease issuing letters of marque to his privateers?
  28. Who was the last Jacobite hanged as a pirate in 1713?
  29. How many pirates is Captain Millar said to have killed on Madagascar in 1704?
  30. How did he kill them?
  31. Who was the colonial governor who sent out the squadron which killed the notorious pirate Edward Teach, aka 'Blackbeard,' in 1718?
  32. Lieutenant Robert Maynard commanded the crew which killed Blackbeard off North Carolina. Where was Maynard born?
  33. Who wrote the following? “The long Imprisonment I have undergone, or the tryall I am to undergoe, are not soe great an affliction to me, as my not being able to give your Hon'ble House of Commons such satisfaction as was Expected from me. I hope I have not offended against the Law, but if I have, It was the fault of others who knew better, and made me the Tool of their Ambition and Avarice, and who now perhaps think it their Interest that I should be removed out of the world.”
  34. When did Henry Morgan sack Panama City?
  35. Where did Adam Baldridge establish a trading outpost in the 1690s?
  36. Where were the crew of Bartholomew Roberts tried in 1722?
  37. How did Dorothy Thomas, a witness at the trial of Anne Bonny and Mary Read in 1720 describe the two pirates?
  38. True or false: Bartholomew Roberts, aka 'Black Bart,' was one of the most notoriously drunken pirates in history.
  39. Which sixteenth century Irish pirate has recently been the subject of two movies, 'A Prelude to War' (2013) and 'The World's Toughest Pirate Queen' (2021)?
  40. Which 17th century English pirate died on stage but lived on in a palace in Tunis?
  41. The 1935 film 'Captain Blood' starred which two famous actors who rose to prominence because of their roles in this film?
  42. Who captained the fearsome pirate vessel, 'The Black Pig?'
  43. Which 1991 film stars Robin Williams as Peter Banning and Julia Roberts as Tinkerbell?
  44. In what year was 'Pirates of Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl' first released?
  45. Which character did Geoffrey Rush play in this film?
  46. Who uttered the phrase: 'you are, without a doubt, the worst pirate I've ever heard of...'
  47. And who retorted: 'but you have heard of me!'
  48. Which former pirate had an obsessional craving for cheese?
  49. Which 1995 pirate film starring Geena Davies bombed so badly it lost $147 million?
  50. True or false: 'letters of marque' were often issued during peacetime.

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