Few things were able to generate such a grand sense of pure horror in a sailor in the 18th century (also known as ‘The Golden Age of Piracy’) than the sight of a ship sailing in their direction under black flags. This coined the era as The Golden Age of Piracy. These fearsome souls were immortalized and romanticized by movies such as Captain Blood, Pirates, Princess Bride or The Pirates of the Caribbean series. Although just the fear was enough for any merchant to surrender without putting much of a fight, nonetheless, the pirates always arrived fully prepared for battle.
The Cutlasses or we should say the ‘sword of the sea’, were among one of the favorite pirate swords, especially among the Caribbean pirates in the 17th and 18th century. The broad slashing single-edge Pirate sword - two feet long straight or slightly curved blades was ideal for hand to hand combat and strong enough to hack through the canvas, heavy ropes, flesh, and bones.
Tempted by the great usefulness of the deadly weapon, the Royal Navy introduced the naval cutlasses in 1798, which went on to be used in the Navy right up until the First World War. In 1936, the British Royal Navy announced that from then on cutlasses would be carried only for ceremonial duties and not used in landing parties.
Pirate Knives and Daggers
Most pirates carried small knives or daggers, which come handy for activities like chopping in cooking food, trip ropes, stab opponents, or blocking a sword attack. Over a period of time, different styles of the Pirate knives were introduced, like the sharp Scottish dirks, fancy decorated knives, curved blades of the Arabs etc.
By the end of the 17th century, most pirate ships were equipped with the cannons. However, unlike a naval sea battle, where the idea is to smash each other’s ship, pirates never intended to damage their prey. The sole purpose of installing cannons was actually to frighten the victims.
During the Golden Age of Piracy, from 1660 to 1740, the flintlock was a commonly used firearm. Their small size made them easy to hide and carry along. For close combat, the blunderbuss, an early form of shotguns, were also in use. Loaded with a cluster of nails, pistol balls, or glass, this pirate weapon could maim and kill several people with a single blast.
Another famous firearm, usually used in the long-range shooting has been the Musketeer. Special sharpshooters were assigned to climb up the mast and shoot down onto the enemy’s ship during a battle.
Some of these firearms are still quite popular to this day and used in movies like The Pirates of Caribbean series, Shipwrecked, and Treasure Island.
These long-handled, sharp-edged pirate weapons helped buccaneers slash their way through the ship’s ropes and timber, climbing the high wooden sides of larger ships and bringing down the enemy ship’s sail. These axes were very effective for a deadly hand to hand fights also!
An early form of hand grenade was popular during the 17th century. Iron, glass, wood, nails, metal objects and gunpowder were used to prepare the grenades with a fuse sticking out, that was lit just before being thrown at the target.
These were the famous pirate weapons, they used to strike fear among their prey. Do you have any other weapon to add to this list? Please do share with us!