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Treasured stories of real-life buccaneers

In fiction and in real-life they were fearsome characters who ruled the high seas, robbing ships of their treasure.

The real-life piracy in the 17th and 18th centuries was not a world away from the adventures we read about in our favourite books.

Captain Hook, pirate captain of the Jolly Roger and arch enemy of Peter Pan, is one of the most famous fictional pirates, along with the one-legged Long John Silver from Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island.

Their characters are based on some of the thousands of pirates who were active from 1650-1720 in a time known as the Golden Age of Piracy.

Famous pirates from this period include Blackbeard (Edward Teach), Henry Morgan, William 'Captain' Kidd, 'Calico' Jack Rackham and Bartholomew Roberts.

Pirate ships were much feared as they often carried far more crew than ordinary ships of a similar size, allowing them to easily outnumber their victims.

Many of the most famous pirates had a terrifying reputation, and they advertised this by flying various gruesome flags including the Jolly Roger with its skull and crossbones.

The most precious prizes they seized were treasure chests of gold, silver and jewels.

Today in some parts of the world, especially the South China Seas, piracy still exists.

These are well-organised gangs whose target might be those on board as much as the cargo, as the current trend is for pirates to seize crews and demand a ransom from their employers.

Now look at your Ships Ahoy! It's a Pirates life for me! page in your workbook.

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