Piracy Timeline - Pirates History

The pirates that we know today from our popular culture came from the exciting times of 17th and 18th century. However, history of pirates spans all the way back to the early days of our modern civilization in 2nd century BC. Here you can find the timeline of all major pirate events.

Piracy Timeline
  • 1400 to 1200 BC - The first report of piracy comes from around 13th century BC, when the so called "Sea People" raided the waters of Aegean and Mediterranean. Their early focus was on Egypt and their sea traders, but later on they spread their influence on the entire Mediterranean.
  • 1200 BC - Trade ships of Roman and Greek empires started being raided by the Illyrian and Tyrrhenian pirates. Most commonly those pirates took not only goods and cargo, but also entire crews to be sold as slaves.
  • 1st century BC - During the height of Roman Empire, pirates from Cicilia controlled much of the Mediterranean. They even manage to capture young Julius Cesar on one of his sea journeys.
  • 67 BC- Rise of piracy around Italy prompted Roman senate to organize military fleet which managed to dissolve all major Mediterranean pirate fleets in the period of three months.
  • 258-264 BC - Coast of Black Sea, Cyprus and Crete became under constant attack of Gothic and Herulic pirate fleets. During that period cities in these areas were inflicted with major damage and loss of life.
  • 286 AD - Roman military commander Carausius was appointed to protect the land of Armorica and the English Chanel from the Frankish and Saxon pirates.
  • 2nd century AD - Piracy in Asia started to grow after the Chinese Han Dynasty started to decline and the widespread corruption and open rebellion started to endanger sea shipping lanes.
  • 4th century AD - Romano-Briton and Christian missionary Saint Patrick was captured by pirates.
  • The legendary Christian missionary Saint Patrick was captured by the pirates at the age of 16, and was forced to works six years as their slave in Ireland.
  • 13th century - Rise of the piracy in the European waters.
  • The advancement in naval technology and several active wars enabled the rise of the piracy in the Mediterranean and Northeast parts of Atlantic.
  • 1241 - Rise of the piracy near the shores of Germany and Baltic brought the rise of the Hanseatic League alliance of cities.
  • 1300 - Waters of English Chanel started being defended from pirate attack by the organized fleets of Cinque Ports.
  • 1390 - French and English military fleets united in fight against African based corsairs that regularly attacked shipping lanes in the Mediterranean.
  • 13th century - Wokou pirates formed in japan. They regularly attacked the coasts of China and Korea for the next 3 centuries.
  • 15th century - Chinese Ming dynasty reached the pinnacle of its territory, successfully regaining power of their entire shorelines and subduing pirates.
  • 16th century - Discovery of sea routes to India and New World enabled pirates to start preying on the new set of rich shipping lines.
  • 1527 - Famous French privateer Jean Fleury was executed after he raided three English ships filled with gold and jewels.
  • 1550 - Spanish treasure ships became prime targets for the piracy.
  • 1554-1565 - Traders near Cuba and Florida started being regularly attacked by pirates, both at sea and ports.
  • 1557 - Queen Elizabeth started openly recruiting privateers for her fight against the Spain.
  • 1579-1596 - Active career of the famous English privateer Sir Francis Drake.
  • 1623-1638 - Caribbean becomes prime hunting ground for piracy, with over 500 Spanish and Portuguese ships being captured in this time period.
  • 1642-1643 - English privateer William Jackson captured several Spanish ships and towns, including their capital of Jamaica - Santiago de la Vega.
  • 1650 to 1680 - The first stage of the "Golden Age of Piracy". Anglo-French buccaneers regularly attacked Spanish shipping lanes and ports.
  • 1695 - Pirate Captain Henry Every managed to capture on of the biggest loots of all time.
  • 1690s - The second stage of "Golden Age of Piracy", when the pirates based in Caribbean started performing "Pirate Round" by sailing to the Indian and Red sea to rob the traders that carried immense riches from the India to the Middle East and Europe.
  • 1701 - This year was marked by the very famous public trial and execution of Scottish pirate William Kidd.
  • 1718 - Glorious death in battle of one of the most famous pirates of all time - Blackbeard.
  • 1720 - Crew of pirate Captain Jack Rackham became captured by the English. Among them were two famous female pirates Anne Bonny and Mary Read.
  • 1722 - Death of one of the most successful pirates of all time - Bartholomew Roberts. His death marked the point in which piracy started to decline.
  • 1724 - Book named "A General History of the Pyrates" became the first one to give detailed accounts of all major pirate captains of the age, and was the foundation for popularization and idolization of the pirate lifestyle in the following centuries.
  • 1716 to 1730 - The last third stage of "Golden Age of Piracy", in which large scores of unemployed privateers went to Caribbean and created pirate heaven. This period of time gave birth of some of the most famous pirates that are remembered today.
  • 1775 - American Revolution brought the rise of the piracy between America and Europe.
  • 1803 - Piracy returned to Europe with the start of the Napoleonic Wars.
  • 1807 - The most powerful Chinese female pirate lord of all time managed to unite pirates into the organization that counted over 1800 ships and 80 thousand sailors.
  • 1810-1820 - Mexican Gulf became prey to the organized fleets of the Jean Lafitte privateers and pirates.
  • 1820 - British and American military fleets eliminated piracy in the Central American waters.
  • 1850 - Asian piracy fell after organized attack form the English fleets.
  • 2005 - Somali Civil War brought the rise of the pirates that started organized raids on one of the busiest shipping lanes that transports the goods from the Suez Canal to India.