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Portrait of medieval bearded pirate holding sword and gun.  Source: Oulaphone/Adobe Stock

The Horrifying Torture Methods Used By Pirates… (Video)

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In the grim era of the 1600s, humanity bore witness to a dark chapter marked by massacres, persecution, and cruelty. The so-called Golden Age of Piracy unfolded amid this brutality, with pirates infamous for their heinous acts.

Contrary to attempts to rationalize their behavior, pirates' cruelty appears arbitrary upon delving into first-hand accounts. Torture, a prevalent tool, served various purposes, primarily as a means of interrogation during raids on isolated settlements or captured vessels.

Pirates exhibited a sophisticated intelligence-gathering approach, seeking information on towns, ship destinations, and more. The captives, confined in churches or ship holds, faced interrogations for treasure locations, serving as hostages, or potential recruits. Astonishingly, pirates' motives for torture ranged from punishment and revenge to sadistic amusement. National grudges fueled violence, and some pirates sought retribution for past enslavements.

The methods of pirate torture were unsettlingly diverse. Beatings, floggings, dismemberment, and gauntlets were commonplace, each serving as a harrowing reminder of the pirates' brutality. Starvation, isolation, and marooning emerged as slow, agonizing tortures. The infamous "rack" found its way into pirate parlance, though the device itself was impractical for seafaring. Amidst the horrors of the Golden Age of Piracy, the arbitrary and merciless nature of pirate cruelty becomes chillingly apparent, reflecting the chaotic and violent lives of these desperate, often traumatized men.

Top image: Portrait of medieval bearded pirate holding sword and gun.  Source: Oulaphone/Adobe Stock

By Robbie Mitchell

Robbie Mitchell's picture


I’m a graduate of History and Literature from The University of Manchester in England and a total history geek. Since a young age, I’ve been obsessed with history. The weirder the better. I spend my days working as a freelance... Read More

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