Why has wearing pirate costumes become fashionable
Pirate fancy dress has become more famous in recent years, with no surprise this being due to the release of the excellent pirates of the Caribbean films starring Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow - everyone's favourite pirate!
But why has dressing up in a pirate fancy dress costume become so favored in recent years - pirate costumes are now one of the most searched for and worn fancy dress costume in modern times.
Tales of pirates have been going for many years. In fact, the first chronicled accounts of pirates or piracy date back to 13th Century BC, although not in the same form we have come to typecast an average pirate today. Ancient Greeks, Romans and many other races were considered pirates, from looting, pillaging, and kidnapping boys and girls to sell as slaves.
Pirates are robbers who travel the open seas, targeting ships and sometimes coastal towns, threatening trading routes and seizing cargos of grain, olive oil, food, wine, rum, gold, silver, gems and other expensive items. Throughout history, there have been people willing to rob other transporting goods on the open seas. Thousands of pirates were actively dominating the waters between the years of 1650 and 1720, the years which are generally referred to as the Golden Age.
Pirates were also referred to as corsairs who operated in the Mediterranean Sea between the 15th and 18th centuries, and the buccaneers who lived in the Caribbean during the 17th Century.
Pirates are renowned for operating in the Caribbean islands, this is due to the precious goods that ships to and from the area was carrying. In the 15th Century, Christopher Columbus discovered the lands of America, which were claimed by the Spanish, who soon discovered them to be a very rich source of silver, gold and gems. Spanish ships would carry these items back from the Americas to Europe, and the pirates found it near impossible to withstand these treasures for themselves.
Pirate attacks on ships, even on fleets with armed vessels were very successful, mainly due to the modifications pirates made on their ships, increasing the cannon load capacity, and always carrying more crew than their counterparts. As their reputation for bloodshed grew, apprehension spread amongst many of the fleets travelling to and from the area, that when they did in the course of time come under attack, many would simply give up.
One of the more notorious pirates, Blackbeard was heavily armed with knives, pistols and cutlasses, and to further strike fear into the enemy ships and crew, he had a mass of tangled hair which he would attach fuse to, and set alight during battles so he's face was enclosed by smoke.
Pirate attacks became so common that governments were forced to take action. In the 18th Century, many governments sent heavily armed warships to the favourite hunting grounds of the pirates, were terrible wars were fought and both sides suffered massive losses. It was during this time, famous pirates such as Blackbeard and Bartholomew Roberts were killed. Pirates that survived, were put on trial, and then executed with great publicity. Bodies were coated with tar and hung in special iron cages as a dreadful discouragement to others who may have investigated taking up piracy.
So our obsession with pirate fancy dress and wearing pirate costumes stems back from the days of pirates spreading fear and looting wherever they could, and no doubt with the recent releases of the popular Disney pirate films, pirate costumes will continue to be some of the most worn costumes.