(1775–1844) (simplified Chinese: 郑氏; traditional Chinese: 鄭氏; pinyin: Zhèng Shì; Cantonese: Jihng Sih; “widow of Zheng”), also known as Cheng I Sao (simplified Chinese: 郑一嫂; traditional Chinese: 鄭一嫂; pinyin: Zhèng Yī Sǎo; Cantonese: Jihng Yāt Sóu; “wife of Zheng Yi”), was a prominent pirate in middle Qing China, who terrorized the China Sea in the early 19th century. A brilliant Cantonese pirate, she commanded over 300 junks manned by 20,000 to 40,000 pirates — men, women, and even children. She challenged the empires of the time, such as the British, Portuguese and the Qing dynasty. Undefeated, she would become one of China and Asia’s strongest pirates, and one of world history’s most powerful pirates. She was also one of the few pirate captains to retire from piracy. Ching Shih has featured in numerous books, novels, video games and films in Asia. Read More || Edit
Okay, I ain’t gonna say that piracy started in 16th century China ‘cause I don’t think it’s true–I think piracy was always present, peeps were always thieving by sea and shiz, especially when times were hard. But the thing is, we didn’t know that piracy was a thing till like years later, when academics looked at historical records and saw that people were plunderin’ like crazy. Also, it’s a lot harder to get a hold of stuff recorded earlier on 'cause it was probably lost to time so it’s pretty difficult to say what happened then.
Anyway, enough waffling. Let’s get down to the nitty gritty bits.
How The Hell Did Piracy Begin In The 1500s?
Answer: The Portuguese. There was this dude called Diogo Lopes de Sequeira who arrived in Malacca in 1509 to trade and shiz, and this dude called Afonso de Albuquerque (who would conquer Malacca later) asked Jorge Álvares to go explore China and shiz, so he did and put a flag on “Tuen Mun” island in Guangdong in 1513. Then Rafael Perestrello came by, to trade in 1516. This was followed by Fernão Peres de Andrade in 1517, who was under Afonso de Albuquerque, who was also the governor of Malacca. Andrade also came to Guangdong and docked along the Pearl River estuary with 8 ships on 15 August.
There they asked the Chinese peeps if they could totally have porcelain and silk at Canton, but the Chinese naval commander was kinda suspicious so he made them stay there for a month. Finally, Andrade got impatient and threatened to sail upwards without permission, so the naval commander was all, “Ok ok, chill, man,” and gave him peeps to assist him when he travelled.
So these peeps finally got to Guangdong, and the first thing they did was to fire their cannons (yeah, real smart move there) 'cause they thought they were being friendly. But the Chinese were all, “WTF? Are they gonna like, kill us or something?” so they thought they had to be wary of these foreigners.
Durin’ that period of time, Malacca had been conquered by the Portuguese, and Chinese peeps were a bit pissed wit’ that 'cause the previous King of Malacca always paid tribute to the court. The Portuguese peeps had some 'splaining to do, and they said that some Chinese merchants were obviously oppressed in Malacca and so they helped free said peeps. This didn’t go over wll wit’ errybody, 'cause these merchants in Malacca weren’t supposed to trade overseas in the first place, according to Chinese law.
Despite that, the Canton officials still gave them a place to stay and brought their goods ashore. But then Andrade was all, “Hmm, Imma send a ship to Fujian to see if we can trade there,” so they thought he was totally a spy. Andrade also sent one of his captains, this dude called Jorge de Mascarenhas to see if there was gold in the Ryukyu islands, too.
Fernão Pires de Andrade’s Bro Fucks Shit Up
At this point in time, Simão de Andrade, who was the brother of Fernão came to China, too. He built a fort at the centre of Tuen Mun island, and errbody was like, “Whoa, okay, what the hell?” The dude even executed a Portuguese dude and stopped all other foreigners from trading there, which was a pretty dick move. A Chinese official came to solve this problem, but Simão hit the official and his hat came off.
His atrocities didn’t really stop there, 'cause he was kidnappin’ and buyin’ Chinese kids as slaves and selling them to other Chinese peeps. He even sold some of them to Diu, which was in western India. The dude still stayed in China until 1520.
Simão de Andrade also went to Xiamen and Ningbo, and when his men were cheated out of their money by the Chinese, he got so angry and asked his men to pillage and capture the women in town.
So, y'know, things got worse and the Chinese killed the guys under Simão.
Whenever I have a ton of work to get done, somehow my brain decides that this is the perfect time to get interested in something I’ve found on Wikipedia and then get super engrossed into it, looking stuff up on JSTOR… when I should be doing research for my actual paper and all of my other homework.
Badass-Women-in-History Inktober Day 4: Ching Shih, a 19th-century pirate in southern Qing China.
It is estimated that she commanded up to 40,000 pirates or more. Her power over her crew was absolute- disobeying orders carried the death penalty. Witholding loot from the group fund carried the death penalty. Raping captives carried the death penalty. Sailors who resisted the pirates were nailed to the decks of their ships and clubbed to death.
She defeated all attacks from the Chinese, Portugese, and British navies. Finally, the Qing government had to strike a peace treaty with her and let her retire WITH all her loot.
“ Pacifying The South China Sea “ … Scroll detail showing government Navy ships attacking pirate vessels at Lantau, near Hong Kong [Circa 1810]. The pirate Zhang Baozai operated six fleets in the South China Sea with over 70,000 followers, presenting the largest maritime security problem any nation has ever faced anywhere. An extraordinary ink painting scroll entitled ‘Pacifying the South China Sea’ which is 18 metres in length, depicts the nine-day Battle of Lantau that heralded the strategy of Viceroy Bailing to rid the Chinese seas of this blight.
Now when most people think of pirates, they think of the Carribbean sea with Blackbeard and Morgan.
But they weren’t the only one who had pirates. China had their own, and the most famous and wellknown of all of their pirates was a woman. A woman who started out as a prostitute and would later control one of the largest fleets of pirates the world has ever known.
Ching Shih was a prostitute who married pirate Zheng Yi in 1801 and joined him in the business of pirate-ing as his equal, which was surprising for their time. She and Zheng helped gather up other Chinese pirates and formed one of the largest pirate fleets known to man and called itself the Red Flag Feet.
in 1807 after Zheng’s death instead of stepping aside, Ching took the reigns of the business of over 1500 ships and 60000 men and took to the seas in place of her husband.
When she took over she also laid down new ground rules including no pirates were to rape female prisoners, a crime punishable by death. She didn’t even allow for consensual between pirates and prisoners, which resulted with said prisoner being thrown overboard tied up and the pirate still killed.
She also didn’t stand for her crew running off. Any pirate who did was brought back one ear less to be made an example of.
But Ching did grow tired of the pirate life, and instead dying in battle like most pirates, she requested amnesty from China, which she was granted, and retired from the pirate life with all the loot and plunder that she had collected.
With that, she opened her own brothel and casino and and stayed in charge still up until her death in 1844 at the age of 69 and went down in history as the world’s most successful pirate.