Let's Talk Pirate

Posted by by Janet Dooley on 4 January 2012 in category in Elizabeth I - 0 0 Comments

It's International Talk Like a Pirate Day. So let's talk about pirates. Specifically, let's talk about Francis Drake, Queen Elizabeth I's favorite English pirate, or as she called him, Sir.

Sir Francis Drake, National Portrait Gallery, London

Sir Francis Drake was a common born Englishman who already had a reputation as a successful privateer when he came into Elizabeth I's service. In fact, that's why she liked him. His reputation as an excellent sea captain secured his service to the crown. Elizabeth paid him to harass Spanish ships, something he was very good at. He sacked and plundered ships all along the coast of the New World as well as Spain. He brought Elizabeth a share of the spoils, which is why she loved him. Among his many accomplishments, Drake became the first Englishman to circumnavigate the globe and was instrumental in the defeat of the Spanish Armada, which sealed England's dominance on the seas for generations to come. It also earned him a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth.

Of course there's a fallout to this, and that's where we get to the pirates.

The Spanish always viewed Drake as a pirate and they weren't wrong. He was just a pirate on the queen's payroll. Fast forward a couple generations, and English privateers found themselves unemployed––the English monarchy, having signed a truce with Spain, no longer wanted their services. So the privateers became pirates, raiding and stealing from Spain and England alike.

So as you go about speaking pirate-ese today, remember the first and best English pirate of them all, Sir Francis Drake.



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