Rebecca Simon

Nov 28, 2023

The Pirates’ Code

Laws and Life Aboard Ship

Reaktion Books 2023

In The Pirate's Code: Laws and Life Aboard Ship (Reaktion, 2023), Dr. Rebecca Simon presents a rollicking account of pirates’ codes, the strict rules essential for survival at sea.

Pirates have long captured the imagination with images of cutlass-wielding swashbucklers, eye patches and buried treasure. But what was life really like on a pirate ship? Piracy was a risky, sometimes deadly occupation, and strict orders were essential for everyone’s survival. These ‘Laws’ were sets of rules that determined everything from how much each pirate earned from their plunder to compensation for injuries, punishments and even the entertainment allowed on ships. These rules became known as the ‘Pirates’ Code’, which all pirates had to publicly swear by.

Using primary sources such as eyewitness accounts, trial proceedings and maritime logs, this book explains how these codes were the key to pirates’ success in battle, both on sea and on land.

This interview was conducted by Dr. Miranda Melcher whose forthcoming book focuses on post-conflict military integration, understanding treaty negotiation and implementation in civil war contexts, with qualitative analysis of the Angolan and Mozambican civil wars.

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Miranda Melcher

Miranda Melcher (Ph.D., Defense Studies, Kings College, London) studies post-conflict military integration, understanding treaty negotiation and implementation in civil war contexts, with deep analysis of the Angolan and Mozambican civil wars.

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