Ships of the 1500s

Bart Dale

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
6,866
#31
You are right. 100% I agree with you. The best pirates in History were "Errol Flynn" and "Tyrone Power"... Between 1540 to 1650, 11.183 ships crossed Atlantic Ocean from the West Indies (as it was named America) to Spain. They were lost 519 ships (4,64%). The 519 ships lost in 110 years.. most of them were sunked by storms, rocks, hurrricane etc... Only 107 ships between the 519 were captured, taken or sunked by pirates or rival fleet from others kingdoms... what means 20,60% lost ships or 0,95% ships crossed the Atlantic between 1540 (before to organize the Flota de Indias, Treasure fleet) to 1650.

And you are right... pirates didn´t want to be martyrs or heroes... and their ultimate dreams were not to come hand to hand infantes de Marina belonged to Tercio Viejo de la Mar Océana. Most of the 107 ships captured by enemies, (regular fleet more than pirates). In fact, most of pirates took fisher ships or light merchant ships isolated.

And Now I will break some myths about pirates invanted by movies... Johnny Deep is the other "famous pirate" in the history.

1st: Pirates were not marked with any "P"... Spaniards hanged pirates (not marked at all). British only marked slaves or people they were going to keep alive.. but British also hanged pirates.. so... no marked... not evidences at all.

2nd: Not Parley at all... a movie invention. Pirates only keept alive rich people to recieve a ramson. Who were not rich.. they were killed or thrown into the Sea. Less people to give food and less danger on board.

3rd: Not Pirate treasures... Pirates spent their money immediately on drunkenness, gamblings and whores ... they were not "thrifty bankers" .. the only pirate it is said he had a buried treasure was William Kidd... but nobody found nothing.. and it is thought it was a legend.. not a fact...and in any case it would be a "case".. not a "custom".

4th: Kraken is not a pirate myth...not even a Caribbean myth. It is a Nordic Myth and it didn´t become a kind of "Giant Squid" iconography till 18th Century (late).

5th: Patches, wooden legs and parrots on the shoulder.. another invention.. in this way the guilty is the literature. It was invented by Robert Louis Stevenson in 1883 in his novel "Treasure island" when he portraited to Long John Silver (a fictional character). In the real life, in history.. although it would have been possible some man had patches, wooden legs (no matter if Pirate or farmer)... he would have not been much time aboard on a ship. They were not wanted men in the crews because of their limitations in the seafaring tasks and in the attacks on other ships ...
Pirates were too much weak to allow dissabled people took space and consumed food and water in small boats that needed everyone 100% to have chances of success or at least get out alive. So... very "beautiful" and very false... invented by Stevenson...

Not Patches, not wooden legs and not parrots on the soulder!

6th. Boarding!!!!... In this case a Hollywood invention. Pirates never assaulted galleons or great ships...in fact, they avoid the boarding... even small ships preferred to take them by artillery. Boarding a Gallion would have been suicide. GAllions were higher and greater ships, with more guns...and the Spanish Gallion had their Infantes de marinas... specialized in hand to hand fight. Pirates sailed much smaller ships because the big ones cost a lot. And they also attacked small boats. They never attacked Warships not even large and well-armed merchant ships. Pirates were not heroes or soldiers.. they wanted easy prizes...that didn´t mean great danger for them.... to think in a Pirate ships approaching to a Spanish Gallion... holding on the artillery broadside... to chain the ship to a waship was heavier, largest and higher... try to climb the highest ship, with the risk of being crushed between the two ships, to fall into the sea or to receive a shot from the defenders at point-blank range and from a higher position, to then try to beat melee soldiers specialized in that kind of fight (hand to hand as Infantes de marina) and beside suportted by the rest of crew.... it was something only possible for pirates as "Errol Flynn", "Tyrone Power" or "Johny Deep"... in real life.. they have the same change to take a Spanish GAlleon as today Somali pirates to take a US Aircraft Carrier.

I agree with you.

If a ship never reached itz destination, how do we always knos how it was.lost, if there were no survivors? Maybe ships you assumed were lost by storm, really were lost to pirates. Simply because pirates didn't report capturing the ship, that does not mean they did not. Perhaps pirates were just bad at keeping records.

If a ship never reaches it's destination, and no survivors arrive, we can't really say how it was lost.
 

Tulius

Ad Honorem
May 2016
4,328
Portugal
#32
If a ship never reaches it's destination, and no survivors arrive, we can't really say how it was lost.
That is only partially true.

And I say partially because in many situations the ships wouldn’t be alone but with other vessels, and there were witnesses that the ship was sunk or disappeared in the storm. In others remains were found. In others pirates/corsairs spoke about their preys, as for instance: Madre de Deus - Wikipedia

Besides in some situations not all the crew died, and someone survived to tell the story. And then others do a compilation: História trágico-marítima - Wikipedia
 

martin76

Ad Honorem
Dec 2014
5,950
Spain
#33
If a ship never reached itz destination, how do we always knos how it was.lost, if there were no survivors? Maybe ships you assumed were lost by storm, really were lost to pirates. Simply because pirates didn't report capturing the ship, that does not mean they did not. Perhaps pirates were just bad at keeping records.

If a ship never reaches it's destination, and no survivors arrive, we can't really say how it was lost.
Very interesting question. I think as Tulius. He has answered to you the reasons. I only add three aspects:

1st: the Spanish Fleet always travelled the same routes (as centuries later it was copied by Allied in 1914-1918 and 1939-1945) as today airliners. From Seville -San Lucar de Barrameda - Canary Islands - Dominica - and from Dominica the fleet split:

Armada de la Nueva España travelled to Veracruz through Hispaniola (Santo Domingo)
Flota de Galeones to Cartagena de Indias, Madre de Dios-Panamá and Portobello.

From the West Indies. the departure was in Havana. There were concentrated the ships from Veracruz, Portobello, Panamá, Cartagena etc . From Havana through Florida-Bahamas, they stopped in Açores and from Açores to Seville.

2nd: To sink a ship before 20th Century was very very very difficult as it is proved by the naval battles save Lepanto in 1571, almost not ship sunk in battle.. Trafalgar 1, aboukir 4 (2 frigates), Camperdown, San Vicente 0, 1588 Armada only 3, Texel 0, Solebay 2 (not sunks ships.. I am accounting "destroyed"...

Sincerely before torpedo, mine and airplane... to sunk a ship was almost impossible. How many ships were sunk in the battle of Lissa in 1866? 2; in the battle of Las Terceras; 4...

By other side, Pirates were not German U-Boats... they wanted the prize! because for them it was the maxima richest. The big booty.

3rd: empiricism. Until today, each Spanish REcord classified the ship as lost in storm.. when the ships have been discovered.. the cause of sinking was storm, rocks etc.. not attack... When the Spanish record classifed as lost in action.. and it has been discovered.. it was lost in action!!!
So, I believe the Spanish records.

Don´t you think so?