Everyone needs a set of standards to live by… but the Pirate’s Code? Well why not! Pirates might have been dastardly thieves and mercenaries, but they weren’t fools and it might surprise you just how fair and filled with common sense some of their rules were.
As we explained in last week’s trivia, The Pirate’s Code was established to maintain discipline on-board a pirate vessel. It set forth the code of conduct each member of the crew was expected to follow and established a protocol for handling a variety of situations including the distribution of treasure and the resolution of disputes. It does not appear that there was one universal code applicable to all crews, but rather that each captain set forth his own version.
The most well-known version of the Pirate’s Code is “The Shipboard Articles of 1721” established by Bartholomew Roberts (aka Black Bart), who was one of the most successful pirates operating in the Caribbean at that time. Among these articles were rules for deciding the affairs of the ship, expected behavior of the crew both at sea and on-shore, and guidelines for handling those who failed to abide by the articles.
So is the Pirate’s Code still of value today? Well we think so! Here are some common situations and ways to use the code to resolve them.
Situation #1: Mom baked 18 chocolate chip cookies and her two kids immediately start squabbling over how many each of them should get. If mom embraces her inner pirate, how will she handle this?
Article VIII of the Pirate’s Code: The captain and the quartermaster shall each receive two shares of a prize, the master gunner and boatswain, one and one half shares, all other officers one and one quarter, and private gentlemen of fortune one share each.
Applying the Code: I think we can safely say that Mom and Dad are on the same level as the captain and quartermaster and the kids can be considered equivalent to “private gentleman of fortune.” Thus mom and dad will get approximately 6 cookies each and the kids would get 3 each. Problem solved – the pirate way!
Situation #2: You’ve gathered with your friends and are trying to decide what to do this weekend. One friend is loudly insisting that you should go to the movies. How would a pirate handle this situation?
Article I of the Pirate’s Code: Every man shall have an equal vote in affairs of the moment.
Applying the code: According to the Pirate’s Code, majority rules. Take a vote and do whatever the group decides. If your friend doesn’t like it, make her walk the plank!
Scenario #3: You have to work tomorrow and need to go to bed. Your roommate is on vacation and wants to party in the living room with his friends. What would a pirate do here?
Article IV of the Pirate’s Code:The lights shall be put out at 8:00pm and any of the crew who wishes to sit up and drink after that hour shall do so on deck and without lights.
Applying the Code: OK, so 8:00pm is a little bit early. However it seems clear that it should be lights-out at an agreed upon time and if your roommate wants to stay up after that he needs to take it outside.
Scenario #4: You catch your teenage son attempting to sneak his girlfriend into the house after curfew.
Article V of the Pirate’s Code: No woman is to be found among them. If any man shall be found seducing any of the latter sex and carrying her to sea in disguise he shall suffer death.
Applying the Code: OK, so your son wasn’t in a disguise and he didn’t try to carry his girlfriend off to sea and you aren’t allowed to kill him. However, the Pirate’s Code suggests that you are completely justified in being really, really angry!
Scenario #5: It is time for the weekly battle against dirt and dust but when you look around you realize that the people who are supposed to be helping you with the house cleaning are nowhere to be found.
Article VI of the Pirate’s Code: He that shall desert the ship or his quarters in time of battle shall be punished by death or marooning.
Applying the Code: Once again you aren’t allowed to kill your slacker family members, however marooning sounds like a splendid idea! A few weeks marooned on a deserted island will probably change their thinking about skipping out on cleaning day. And imagine how clean your place will stay while they’re gone!