Today's interest in pirates is driven by popular films on recent release starring Johny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow. Such films have driven the demand for the pirate costume. However the history of pirates is fascinating. A pirate made his living through his piracy and used weapons as his tools. So guns and swords were as important to him as the treasure itself. They always made sure their weapons were working because in battle their life depended on them. The cutlass was the most famous of these weapons, a short and sharp sword.
Vikings, an early pirate from Nordic countries, used many weapons including a battle axe. The Greeks used a short sword called a kopis. Buccaneers also used cutlasses, pistols and muskets. The easiest weapons to use on board were pistols and daggers as they were the smallest and easiest to handle at close quarters.
In the 1500s pirate ships started using cannons to fire at enemy ships. However the gunpowder was dangerous and there were many casualties as a result.
When pirates sailed alongside a ship they jumped on board and fought on the deck. If they won the fight they would steal anything they found. Sometimes they would even steal the ship as well.
Stretching back further back in time, lived the Barbary pirates, who came from the north coast of Africa. These were Muslims and were known as Barbory coast corsairs. They mainly attacked Christian ships in the Mediterranean ocean and captured Christians who they later sold as slaves. Important people on the other hand, were held for ransom. Corsairs also forced their captives to row their ships.
The two most famous corsairs were the brothers Aruj and Kheir-ed-din. They were called Barbarossa meaning red beard. in 1504 Aruj stole 2 treasure ships belonging to the pope.
Some Christians turned Turk which meant they became Muslims, after being captured by the Corsairs. This meant they did not need to become slaves. An Englishman called Sir Francis Verney and a Dutchman called Simon Danzier turned Turk and became Barabory corsairs themselves.
Christian pirates sold Muslims as slaves just like the Corsairs sold Christians as slaves. One of the biggest slave markets was the Island of Malta in the Mediterranean sea.