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The Pirate History Podcast

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A podcast about the Golden Age of Piracy in the Caribbean, the real men and women that threatened the trade and stability of the Old World empires, the forces that led them to piracy and the myths and stories they inspired.

A podcast about the Golden Age of Piracy in the Caribbean, the real men and women that threatened the trade and stability of the Old World empires, the forces that led them to piracy and the myths and stories they inspired.
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A podcast about the Golden Age of Piracy in the Caribbean, the real men and women that threatened the trade and stability of the Old World empires, the forces that led them to piracy and the myths and stories they inspired.




Episode 87 - Wicked Purposes

Today we discuss how a pirate might have talked in 1600, and then we follow John Ward to Algiers where he gained a famous reputation and influenced a famous name.


Episode 85 - Anarchy In The Maghreb

The Maghreb was a fertile location for outright piracy at the turn of the 17th century. No national, monarchical, or imperial power held sway there thanks to mutiny, revolution, and what some have called anarchist sensibilities.


Episode 84 - The Thieves' Path

The first decade of the 17th century saw an explosion of Mediterranean piracy that was unlike anything the world had ever seen. Today we will introduce the first of these pirates and discuss the culture of privateering and piracy that led to a sea change in how violence on the sea was conducted.


Episode 83 - A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Amsterdam

Our story today bridges three different stories. The Sephardi Jews that made their way to Amsterdam, the Barbary Corsairs, and the Dutch in revolt all meet in today's story thanks to one mariner who was a pirate, a diplomat, a merchant, and a spy.


Episode 82 - The Drawn Sword of Islam

In the wake of the death of Barbarossa a number of corsairs vied for his position, but only one commander commanded the respect of the men, the trust of the Sultan, and the love of the late Khizr. Turgut Reis became known in Europe as Dragut. On Barbary he was called The Drawn Sword of Islam.


Episode 81 - From What Seas Are Ye Come?

The aftermath of Preveza was contentious, but Barbarossa and his closest allies worked to secure Ottoman hegemony in the Mediterranean.


Episode 80 - Scourge of Christendom

The defeat at Tunis was a major blow to Barbarossa, but he would retaliate with a scourge of piracy that dwarfed any that had come before. The Pope and the Holy Roman Emperor had to answer his challenge and did so in the last great sea battle fought with oars and galleys.


Episode 79 - A Carnival of Murder & Looting

The contest for the Mediterranean reaches a fever pitch as Barbarossa ravages the shores of Italy and then returns to Africa. Charles V realizes his mistake in ignoring the younger Barbarossa brother, and decides to rectify the situation in the city of Tunis.


Episode 78 - Sovereign of the Mediterranean

Today we introduce the major players in the building conflict. We talk about Charles V & Suleiman the Magnificent. We talk about Khizr Barbarossa and his Italian raids that culminated in one of Renaissance Italy's greatest tales. We discuss Sinan Reis, who the Portuguese called 'The Great Jew' and his personal war on Spanish shipping that brought Mediterranean trade to a virtual halt. And then we introduce the last major player. Andrea Doria, a Genoese mercenary who turned down a crown to...


Episode 77 - Holy War

Charles V arrives in Oman with ten thousand soldiers to face off against the Pirate King Barbarossa. Within months of his arrival territories have changed hands and most of the major players have changed. Soon enough it was an entirely new crop of soldiers and sailors and commanders facing off in an ancient contest.


Episode 76 - The Brothers Barbarossa

Our story today is the pinnacle of piracy in the career of the Barbarossa brothers. Their actions, combined with Ottoman and Spanish policies, brought and end to their pirate career. But they were transformed into something more.


Episode 75 - Oruc & Khizr

In 1502 two Papal Galleys were attacked off the coast of Italy by two Barbary corsairs with fiery red beards. Their attack shook Europe to its core.


Episode 74 - A Brief History of the Berbers

Today we talk about the history of a land, and its native inhabitants. The Mediterranean coast of North Africa and the Berber People. We cover all the big events from 10,000 BCE until 1492. Carthage, Rome, the Vandals, and finally Arabian rule. We talk about Pagan Berbers, Jewish Berbers, Christian Monastic Berbers, and Islamic Berbers. We don't talk about the Zoroastrians. There just isn't time. There is discussion of liberty as a concept and the personification of that ideal. We talk about...


Episode 73 - Threads of Gold

Today we discuss the Jewish population of Jamaica after most of the Catholics left. Then we'll talk about the first of two major figures in world politics that would influence their fate. It's a big picture episode, discussing how the Protestant Reformation, the Ottoman overthrow of the Dracula Dynasty, and an agent of the French king all play into the lives of the twenty Jewish families left on Jamaica.


Episode 72 - Jewish Pirates of the West Indies Part 1

The Jewish Pirates of the West Indies have their roots in the Sephardi Jews of Spain. Today we tell their story from the destruction of the second temple in 70 CE to their arrival on Jamaica in the company of Christopher Columbus.


Episode 71 - Dice for Your Life

In 1697 France was at war, and had been for almost a decade. French artists, sculptors, dramatists and authors were encouraged to produce works that would bolster French spirits. It was propaganda. One of those authors was a former buccaneer ten years removed from his last pirate voyage, Raveneau de Lussan. His story was filled with everything the French fighting man could want. Valor, bravery, victory, spoils, and the charms of fair maidens. Today we poke holes in that story as the second...


Episode 70 - Truth & Lies

Spring 1687. The pirates in the Pacific had been away from home for more than two years. They longed for Port Royal, or Tortuga, or anywhere they could sleep easy. Before they could return though, they needed one big prize.


Episode 69 - These New Turks

In April 1687 everyone in our story arrives at Drake's Isle. The French freebooters, the English corsairs, and a Spanish Naval Squadron sent to destroy them all.


Episode 68 - In a Word, Freebooters

The French privateers in Nicaragua found themselves at the mercy of - and at peace with - the Spanish army outside Leon. They were given orders, from the peace signed by Louis XIV, to attack the enemies of Catholicism. Which they did. Sort of. But starvation, poverty, and a thirst for vengeance led them back to Spanish shores.


Episode 67 - A Noisome Smell

The Buccaneers in the pacific were at an impasse. The coast of Nicaragua was preparing an army against them, and they had to get back to sea as quickly as possible. However, what to do once they were back on the water? Today we look at that decision, all while discussing the conquistadors, Medieval manufacturing practices, linguistics, and some disgusting medical details.