Pirates are people who sail the seas searching for ships to capture and rob. Sometimes pirates also attack coastal towns or villages. There have been pirates in many different places and times, from ancient Greece to the modern day. But the most infamous pirates sailed the seas off North and South America between 1620 and 1740.
A band of pirates bears down on a merchant ship. Pirates preferred to attack unarmed ships whenever possible. They fought other warships only when forced to do so.
You Must Be Joking
Pirates in the Americas did not like being called pirates. They called themselves "the Bretheren of the Coast". They claimed they were better than mere robbers. Sometimes they were.
Can You Believe It?
Pirates looted entire cities.
YES. Sometimes thousands of pirates would join together to attack a whole city and steal its treasures.
No Peace Beyond the Line.
In 1494 the Pope announced that all land and sea beyond a line in the Atlantic belonged to Spain. Many countries refused to accept this ruling, called the Treaty of Tordisillas. They sent ships to the Americas, but the Spanish said they were trespassers and attacked them. Many of the merchant attacked by Spain used their ships to launch raids on Spanish colonies.