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A History of Pirates
A Pirate's life in the 17th and 18th century
In some cases, a pirate’s life was no different than that of a regular seaman. Pirates performed the same daily laborious work as seamen. However, life on board pirate ships was far more lenient than on British Royal Navy ships and crew members enjoyed the same luxuries as their captain, including food and alcohol.
Food Pirates Ate
Pirates often restocked their ships with the food from merchant ships they sacked. In the Caribbean they also caught turtle to replenish their fouled meat. “Sea turtles were easily snared on land and then kept alive in the ship’s hold until needed,” says author Cindy Vallar. A pirate’s diet generally was much better than that of a sailor.
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Leisurely Activities
Between their daily work, pirates found the time for leisurely activities. They often played cards, rolled dice, sang, danced and carved. Gambling was forbidden as it divided the crew and lead to heated arguments. “When ashore, pirates squandered their booty on drink, women and games of chance,” says Vallar. They also frequented taverns where they were served beer and wine in black jacks, leather tankards or pewter tankards.
When bored of their other offshore activities, “pirates held mock trials, mimicking what would happen to them if they were captured and came up before an admiralty court,” says historian Nigel Cawthorne. One pirate was the judge. The Captain and his officers carried handspikes as a display of their authority and a hangman stood nearby with a noose. The accused was then brought before the mock court. Sometimes the pirates’ theatrical proceedings became so heated that the accused actually believed he was going to be hanged.
Aside from the hard work, pirates experience far more freedom than regular seamen. The rigid hierarchical system that was in place on Royal Navy ships was nonexistent on pirate ships. Pirate Captains were voted to their position by the crew and their ability to retain that position depended on their popularity. Everyone on board pirate ships was treated equally. A Pirate Captain was required to split his booty equally among his crew.
Most pirates were once regular seamen who

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