Friday 24 January 2020

#HistoricalFiction author, Autumn Bardot, is taking a look at piracy in the South China Seas during the late 1700’s and early 1800’s #History @AutumnBardot

A Pirate’s Life

Time: late 1700’s and early 1800’s

Place: South China Seas

By Autumn Bardot

Who Were They?

They were desperately poor. On the lowest rung of the Qing Dynasty’s highly stratified social system. They were without hope. Without a chance for advancement. Without a chance to improve their lives or the lives of their children. Many sought to escape tyranny, hunger, high taxes, forced labor, enslavement, or execution for petty crimes.

The way out.

They joined the great pirate flag fleets! Signed a form and swore an oath. Worked their way up the ranks, shared in the profits, were bankrolled for new businesses, and gained valuable alliances. They stood in line at pirate recruitment centers and signed up in droves. At its peak, hundreds of men a day signed up to join the pirate fleets.

“Murdered by pirates is good.” (grandson, Princess Bride)

Not every recruit joined willingly. Pirates raided and commandeered fishing boats and merchant ships all the time. If the crew surrendered, they were given a choice. And it was a pretty horrible choice. The pirate chiefs asked them to swear allegiance (which might involve killing their captain) or be hung upside down and whipped or cut into a hundred pieces and thrown overboard.

What do you know? They chose piracy!

Most of the men and women captured began as slaves. But slaves with a chance to work their way up!  Young boys, ages 12 to 15, were greatly prized. If the boy proved to be intelligent, obedient, and hard-working a pirate boss would make him his personal servant. The slave boy would give the pirate boss foot and back rubs and make tea. If the pirate boss was impressed, he initiated the boy into the family by taking him as a temporary lover. This insured loyalty and forged a permanent bond. The boy would be given increasingly more difficult tasks. If he proved himself worthy, strong, and clever, the pirate boss made him an adopted son. In this way, the pirates extended their connections and vast network of relatives—adopted or by marriage—to form a complex and far-reaching web of loyal familial relationships. Definitely one of the reasons they attained so much power. Records show that many adopted sons often went on to become pirate lords with their own squad or, in some cases, given an entire fleet by their adopted father.

The Fleet Bosses 

Many of the fleet bosses were educated and trained naval officers from the failed Tâyson rebellion in Vietnam. Fearing execution, they fled their country and began the business of piracy.

Foreign Devils

Kidnapped foreigners had a chance of staying alive if they had a skill. If they spoke another language, could read and write, knew accounting or the healing arts they were not mistreated.

Although the negotiation process was long and tedious, captured American, British, and European sailors were ransomed for vast sums of money and lots of supplies. The kidnapped foreigners served another purpose as well. They taught their abductors how to use their superior foreign weapons.  

“I can do anything you can do better.”

Men and women on the ships worked equally hard. Women rowed sampans, threw fire baskets, and participated in the raids. However, they could not become officers or captains. They were second-class citizens with little say in their lives.

A Pirate’s Life for Me

Life on a ship, no matter how big that ship might be, was cramped. Although the captain and his wife (or wives) had a nicely decorated, spacious cabin, the others lived in tiny compartments under the cabin hold. About a four by four-foot square space.

Crew members bathed in a compartment below deck filled with sea water. Captains and their wives had first dibs whenever the water was replaced.

Captives, slaves, and recruits slept outside on deck, even during storms. One of the most well-documented captives, first mate J Turner of the Tay, wrote in his journal that his sleeping space was four feet long by one and half feet wide.

Mmmm, Fatted Rat
Red rice, fish, and silkworm were on the menu most days. A good raid added vegetables, pork, and chicken to the menu. There were also plenty of fatted rats to eat.

When the crew was finished with their tasks, they drank, smoked opium, played cards, gambled, and sang bawdy songs.

Because of the cramped quarters, there were lots of rules to keep the peace. Breaking a rule could mean flogging or death. Women who committed adultery were chained and thrown overboard. Prisoners or slaves who attempted to escape were tortured or killed.

This is just a tiny snippet of life on a Chinese pirate junk. Intrigued by Chinese pirates and how they came to be so powerful?  Check out DRAGON LADY.

The triumph of the notorious Zheng Yi Sao is the fierce and unflinching adventure of how a prostitute became the most powerful and successful pirate in the world. 

Xianggu is sold into slavery to work on a floating brothel, her virginity bought by the highest bidder. Determined to rise above her poverty and lowly status, she learns the business from the madam. But a violent midnight pirate raid destroys her ambitions. Kidnapped by the powerful pirate boss, Xianggu embarks on a journey that demands beauty, brains and brawn. She must do more than learn to wield a sword, sail a ship, and swim across the bay if she hopes to survive. She must prove her worth to the Red Flag fleet. 

The winds never blow in the same direction and tragedy forces Xianggu to make a risky decision that changes not only her life but the lives of thousands of pirates. Surrounded by jealous men, devious women, ancient prejudices, and the Qing navy, Xianggu battles to save her empire, her family, and her own heart.

In 18th century China, when men made and enforced the rules, the Dragon Lady lived by her own. 

To celebrate the Chinese New Year this 

January 25th  Dragon Lady will be on 

sale for $2.99 January 23 through 27!

Pick up your copy otday

Autumn Bardot

Autumn Bardot writes historical fiction and erotica about sassy women and daring passions!
Her erotic fiction includes Legends of Lust, Erotic Myths from around the World, published by Cleis Press. Confessions of a Sheba Queen (erotica) will be available Jan 2020.
The Impaler’s Wife is her debut historical fiction, released in April 2019.
Autumn has a BA in English literature and a MaEd in curriculum and instruction. She’s been teaching literary analysis for fourteen years
When Autumn’s not writing or working, you’ll find her hanging out with her ever-growing family, spoiled husband, and pampered rescue pooch. Her favorite things include salty French fries, coffee, swimming, and a great book.


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See you on your next coffee break!
Take Care,
Mary Anne xxx