The pirate code grew out of the experience of most pirates in previous naval or merchant service under harsh conditions and even harsher men as commanders, which left an indelible impression and desire to create a more secure and equitable environment aboard ship....
Pirate Code of Conduct
In the second half of the 17th century, buccaneers began operating under a set of rules called the Chasse-Partie, or Charter Party, which for a season even held legal weight in the Jamaican court system. This pirate code of conduct later grew into the Articles of Agreement (pirate's code), which basically explained the standard operating procedures for all pirates involved. To "go on the account" usually meant that a person signed the articles and was declaring their membership with a group of pirates.
Elements of the Code of Pirates:- who was voted CAPTAIN, if the ship's owner was not among them to be in charge...
- which AREA to sail in search of fortune...
- the TERMS and conditions of service clearly stated...
A pirate captain and possibly the quartermaster (whose powers equaled or surpassed those of the captain) might receive as much as two (sometimes up to five!) shares of the loot taken, while the master gunner, boatswain, and carpenter might receive 1 and3/4 shares. All others would receive 1 share or less.
- INTOLERABLE behaviors, such as fighting, gambling, open flame
- PUNISHMENT or disciplines for broken rules
- COMPENSATION for disabling injuries such as loss of eye, hand, arm, or leg (losses of right hand or arm were compensated with more as more pirates were right-handed)
Each pirate would sign or make his mark and then swear an oath of honor while his hand was on either a Bible, crossed pistols or a human skull, or while sitting on a cannon.
Punishments for Breaking the Pirate Code-
Punishments for breaking the pirate's code were always swift and rarely without exception, an attitude carried over from their previous time aboard a sailing vessel.The quartermaster would deliver the punishment determined by the captain or vote of the crew, which might be legs in irons, flogging, or keel hauling. More serious crimes were answered with marooning or death....
These were the articles used by Captain John Phillips' ship 'Revenge':
Every man shall obey civil command; the captain shall have on full share and a half in all prizes. the Master, Carpenter, Boatswain, and Gunner shall have one share and quarter.
- Article Two
If any man shall offer to run away, or keep any secret from the Company, he shall be marroon'd with one bottle of powder, one bottle of Water, one small Arm, and shot.
- Article Three
If any Man shall steal any Thing in the Company, or game, to the value of a piece of Eight, he shall be Marroon'd or shot.
- Article Four
If at any Time we should meet at another Marooner (that is, Pyrate) that man shall sign his Articles without Consent of our Company, shall suffer such Punishment as the Captain and Company shall think fit.
- Article Five
That man that shall strike another, whilst these Articles are in force, shall receive Moses's Law (that is 40 Stripes lacking one) on the bare Back.
- Article Six
That Man that shall snap his Arms, or smoak Tobacco in the Hold, without cap to his Pipe, or carry a candle lighted without lanthorn, shall suffer the same Punishment as in the former Article.
- Article Seven
That Man that shall not keep his Arms clean, fit for an Engagement, or neglect his Business, shall be cut off from his Share, and suffer such other Punishment as the Captain and Company shall think fit.
- Article Eight
If any man shall lose a joint in time of Engagement, shall have 400 Pieces of Eight: if a limb, 800.
- Article Nine
If at any time you meet with a prudent Woman, that Man that offers to meddle with her, without her Consent, shall suffer Death.
Summary for the Pirate Code of Conduct-
In the years before the founding of democratic nations, pirates were groups of violent men in rebellion against the restraints of harsh rule and society. The pirate code helped them to live under their unique social contracts. Although the goal was still to have the quickest route to riches and leisure as the tyrants they fled from, the pirate code elements such as: equality, rules and decisions by group vote, just punishments, and division of power, contributed to the framework upon which democracies would later be built.... Ain't that a pretty punch!