The times when ordinary people cautiously went to sea are long gone. However, there are many legends, fairy tales, adventure stories and reliable facts about sea robbers. Corsairs stand apart in this variety of filibusters.
Who are corsairs?
For the first time the concept of "corsair" arose in the Middle Ages in France. The French government was looking for new ways to replenish the treasury. As a result, free sailors were offered a kind of patronage - they were allowed to attack the enemies of the king and rob them, giving part of the booty to the treasury. Sailors received good bonuses: they could freely enter state ports (pirates were pursued and executed), and in some cases they could enjoy the protection of garrisons. The crown only benefited from such cooperation - the treasury was replenished, and serious damage was inflicted on enemy coastal settlements and the fleet. Thus, corsairs are free sailors who have permission to plunder ships belonging to enemies of the crown.
How are corsairs different from pirates?
The fact that many consider the words "pirate" and "corsair" to be synonymous is erroneous. The activity of corsairs, in modern terms, was licensed - the government not only did not interfere with them, but approved of this kind of occupation. The pirates acted at their own peril and risk, not dividing the ships into allied and enemy, they could be arrested and brought to justice in any port, regardless of the country.
From the point of view of merchant ships, both corsairs and pirates were robbers who should have been feared - for both of them, robbery and robbery were the main way of earning. By the way, pirates themselves often attacked corsairs - for them it was another opportunity to profit.
Corsairs in other countries
Other states appreciated the French decision with corsairs, so they tried to implement such schemes in their area as soon as possible. This is how German privateers, English privateers and many other licensed robbers appeared.
Corsairs are sailors in the service of the state. They were not afraid of persecution by the authorities, moreover, if they were captured, they could count on the status of prisoners of war. However, in most cases, captured corsairs were considered pirates by other countries and executed by hanging.
If we do not take into account which empire the sailors served, then pirates, privateers, corsairs and privateers are absolutely equivalent concepts.
What flag did the corsairs fly under?
If the pirates used the famous flag "Jolly Roger", then the privateers were forced to go under the statebanners. True, before the attack, in accordance with the maritime code of that time, they raised a black flag as an ultimatum, but if the enemy refused to surrender voluntarily, the corsairs put up a red flag and boarded.
Without a doubt, the most famous corsair is a subject of the British Empire, Francis Drake. He went down in history not only because he successfully replenished the English treasury by robbing and sinking Spanish ships. Drake circumnavigated the world, went all the way along the western coasts of North and South America, opened the strait, later named after him, and also annexed new territories to Britain. According to various sources, as a result of a round-the-world trip, this corsair brought to the state treasury an amount exceeding the annual or biennial budget of the country.
The famous captain, nicknamed Blackbeard (Edward Teach), was a privateer in the service of the Queen of England until the war between England and France was stopped. At the end of the war, patents issued to privateers began to be canceled, and pirates were offered to surrender. Captain Blackbeard refused to surrender, continuing to rob merchant ships already under a pirate flag.
Spanish corsair Amaro Pargo - for a time, his popularity as a national hero in Spain surpassed even that of Francis Drake and Blackbeard. Shortly before his death, Pargo was declared a peer in Madrid.