2) Ching Shih
Ching was active as a pirate in Qing China in the early 19th century. She was probably the most successful pirate of all time (regardless of gender) and commanded a huge fleet of vessels. Estimates of Ching’s fleet size vary from 300 to 1800 junks and between 20,000 and 80,000 men. Even the most conservative of those estimates is pretty impressive.
Ching Shih started life as a Cantonese prostitute who was captured by pirates in 1801. She ended up marrying a famous pirate of the era called Zheng Yi. Zheng was master of the Red Flag Fleet and put the willies up the Chinese for many a year. After he died in Vietnam Ching Shih masterfully maneuvered herself into poll position and became leader of his troops. She knew that she needed ground rules if she was to keep her rabble from revolting and drew up a code of conduct which included the following:
1) If any of the crew start giving their own orders, or ignoring hers, they would be instantly beheaded.
2) Don’t steal from the public fund or from villagers that supplied the pirates.
3) All goods stolen must first be presented to the group.
4) Any cash found must be given straight to the squadron leader or you would face a severe whipping.
5) Rape of a female captive cost you your head.
6) Consensual sex whilst on duty would also cost you your head and the offending wench would have cannon balls attached to her and flung overboard.
Violations to the code would cost you a flogging, being slapped in irons or quartering. If you were caught deserting from the pirate gang you would have your ears lopped off and be paraded around the fleet for all to see. No one could stop Ching, not even the Chinese navy…..
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