[SCA Newcomers] Re: Democratic pirates?
I know it's been a while, but life has had it in for me lately...
Regarding the "democracy" of Pirates...
It is quite probably true that they had a rather polite society,
after it's own sort, and were frequently cited as egalitarian... But
I think that is more an accident of the lifestyle than it is a
When you have a bunch of people of differing cultures, all armed and
ready to kill, all crowded together for days on end, In that
situation rules and agreeements and especially courtesy in terms of
listening and having your voice heard in council becomes more of a
survival tool than a nicety.
Shipboard life has always had a strong tendency towards rules and
exacting social processes, particularly in the channels of
interpersonal complaint and social justice, simply for the fact that
small resentments become large problems when you cannot escape each
other for months and sometimes years on end. Captains who ignore the
voice of the smallest of the crew had better be planning on a short
Furthermore, since many "deep Sea" Pirates like those in the Golden
Age of Carribean Piracy (1650 to 1750 - after period, BTW) were thus
likely to be sailors who had been a part of, and used to, a highly
regimented shipboard life, this adherence to form and courtesy is
really not surprising.
Politeness and sticking to social forms is, sociologically speaking,
a particular indicator of a "society of dangerous people".
It's not unlike the unfailing politeness recorded among barbarian
tribes by historians like Heroditus, such as Scythian and (later)
Hunnic hoardes, and even (much later) the Old US West.
You see this same tendency in isolated tribal civilizations as well
for much the same reason.
Stratford, CT, USA