Throughout history, male have been dominating the world in all fields. But, there have been women who broke this patriarchal rule to become leaders in their fields. One such field was piracy. Back in history, we could find many such female pirates who were not only badass but powerful, ferocious and notorious in the sea. Some of such women were also queens and baroness. These women are a great example of power, female dominance and strength. You will be amazed to hear their adventurous stories that women could be as powerful as men.
List of 10 most powerful and badass female pirates in history:
10. Jacquotte Delahaye, France
Jacquotte Delahaye was one of the most influential pirates in history. She was known by the name “Back from the Dead Red”. She was an active female pirate of 17th century in the Caribbean Sea. Her father was French and mother was Haitian. According to stories and legends, Jacquotte became a pirate after her father was murdered. She had a retarded brother. She led a group of 100 pirates. Before becoming a pirate, she had already made several enemies as females leading on the sea were rare back then. She had to fake her own death and disguise as male for several years. In 1656, she took control of a small Caribbean island with the help of her pirate mates. She later died in a shootout defending the island from an attack.
9. Christina Anna Skytte, Sweden
Christina Anna Skytte was from a powerful family with political background. Her father was a baron, her grandfather was a politician and niece was a poet. Initially, Anna wasn’t a pirate. Her brother Gustav Skytte was secretly managing a pirate ship with which he attacked other ships in the Baltic Sea. Gustav slowly managed to pull his sister and her fiancé into piracy. They became partner with Gustav Skytte. Chirstina Anna was an independent pirate and wasn’t dependent on her brother or husband. She herself was present in a pirate attack in 1662 when a Dutch merchant ship was sunk and its crew members killed. This attack exposed their piracy acts. The Dutch envoy demanded for action and punishment. Christina Anna and her husband managed to escape the arrest and landed in Denmark.
8. Jeanne de Clisson, France
Jeanne de Clisson was one of the most powerful female pirates around 14th century. She was a badass Breton privateer who was active in the English Channel. She was considered a terror across the English Channel. Jeanne was also known as Lioness of Brittany. Jeanne married Olivier III de Clisson for the second time with whom she was very satisfied and happy. They together had enough rich and wealth at one point of time. One of her husband’s friend Charles de Blois wanted to contract Olivier to defend Britton against the English in the Hundred Years’ War. But, Olivier III de Clisson was suspected to be a traitor by his friend Charles de Blois. Later, Olivier was arrested by the French authorities and was sentenced to death.
The death of Jeanne’s husband enraged Jeanne so much that she sold all her remaining properties and Clissonlands. She bought three warships and created the famous “Black Fleet“. She destroyed any French warships that came across her in the English Channel. Her fleet was terrifically colored with black with red sails. She continued her revenge for nearly 13 years destroying and attacking ships in the English Channel. Even after the French King Philip VI died, she continued to cause havoc across the sea. She even attacked coastal villages in Normandy and set fire. In 1356, she retired from piracy and died in 1359.
7. Lai Choi San, China
Lai Choi San was a powerful 20th century Chinese pirate whose evidence of existence is available only from the book I Sailed With Pirates by Aleko Lilius. She is one of the most powerful Chinese pirate leaders in the history of China. She was in command of 12 junks in the South China Sea during the 1920s and 1930s. San sometimes cut through the seas of Philippines and visited the East China Sea. She is also known as the Queen of the Macao Pirates as her main area was Macao. The locals call Lai Choi San as a female Robin Hood. Neither the Chinese or Portuguese authorities interfered with her. Today, she has a strong influence in the pop culture in China and worldwide.
6. Mary Read, England
Mary Read was a famous English female pirate during the height of the Golden Age of Piracy in 18th century along with Anne Bonny. Mary’s childhood had been rough and tough. When she was thirteen, her grandmother expired. She had to earn her living, so had to dress up as a boy to find jobs during those times. Mary Read had boyish characters in her. She even joined army where she found her first love whom she married later. Mary Read’s husband died after few months of marriage by falling sick. She wanted to escape everything and rejoin army. Mary boarded a Dutch ship which was attacked by the pirate Calico Rackham Jack. Her pirate career began here unwillingly. She liked the pirate way of life and continued. Mary Read and Anne Bonny together attacked and captured several ships.
5. Anne Bonny, Ireland
Anne Bonny is one of most famous pirates of all time. She was an Irish pirate possibly active in the 18th century. Her birth and death is still a mystery. She was a badass pirate operating in the Caribbean Sea. Anne’s childhood wasn’t easy. Her mother died when Anne was still a teen. She had to take care of her father’s household. When Anne was 16, she met a small-time pirate by name James Bonny. They fell in love and married. James wasn’t a successful pirate and they were in need of lots of money. She met Calico Jack Rackam and fell for his romance. She joined him and took part in piracy. Anne Bonny attacked ships along with men. She was independent, strong, effective combatant, respected and competent. The shipmates respected her very much. She was the ship’s female pirate captain.
4. Sayyida al Hurra, Morocco
Sayyida al Hurra was a powerful pirate queen of Tétouan, Morocco from 1515-1542. The Islamic West considers her as one of the most important historical figure of the modern age. At one point of time, she was in control of the entire western Mediterranean Sea. She is the last person in the Islamic history to own the title al Hurra (Queen). She was an active pirate during the Corsair age. Sayyida al Hurra had alliance with a famous Turkish pirate Barbarossa of Algiers to control the western Mediterranean Sea. Some historians believe that her acceptance as a queen was because of her abilities as a successful pirate. Sayyida al Hurra conducted her piracy operations against her Christian enemies. At one point of time, she caused havoc on the Spanish and Portuguese shipping lines making her the undisputed pirate leader of the region.
3. Teuta, Italy
Teuta was the fierce queen of Illyria. She was the queen regent of Ardiaei tribe. According to sources, she was possibly an active ruler from 231 BC to 227 BC. The details regarding her kingdom is a mystery.
She wasn’t a pirate herself but was in support of the Illyrian piracy. Teuta supported her people practicing piracy and she treated everyone opposing it as their enemies. The queen considered that according to the laws of Illyrian, piracy was legal and no government has the rights to interfere. She even ordered her forces to pillage all neighbors indiscriminately. The Roman Republic was the most powerful kingdom during this period and a powerful naval force. But, the Romans were scared of the rising Illyrian kingdom in the Mediterranean. The kingdom was led by Teuta. The Romans didn’t like the piracy laws of Illyria. This led Romans to wage war against the Illyrians in 229 BC. She surrendered 227 BC after a fierce duel. Teuta was given a small region to sail and was kept in control by the Romans in the sea.
2. Grace O’Malley, Ireland
Grace O’Malley was the lord of the Ó Máille dynasty and a famous historical figure of Ireland. She was a powerful figure who went on to challenge explosive politics of 16th century England and Ireland. Grace O’Malley was a courageous and fearless leader who fought for the independence of Ireland from the English crown. She was the daughter of a wealthy sea trader Eoghan Dubhdara Ó Máille.
After her father’s death, Grace O’Malley took up his sea trading business. She started to generate enough income to make her rich and powerful. She was in command of over 100 men and 20 ships. The government officials wanted to curb her activity which resulted in conflicts. While defending, Grace O’Malley built a row of castles to protect their area. Finally, she became so violent that led to attacking and capturing any ships that passed their seashore or territory. Now the Pirate Queen had turned her defense into violent attacks. The ruthless governor Sir Richard Bingham captured her at the age of 56. After closely escaping a death sentence, she managed to convince the powerful Queen Elizabeth I in 1593 to free her family. She became an important historical figure in the Irish folklore.
1. Ching Shih, China
Ching Shih was the most powerful pirates of her times. In the early 19th century of Qing China, she was an active female pirate terrorizing the China Sea. She was mighty enough to clash with powerful nations such as the Qing dynasty, British Empire and the Portuguese Empire. Ching Shih was commanding 300 Chinese sailing ships with manpower of 20,000 to 40,000 pirates. The pirate army known as the Red Flag Fleet was like a city of men, women and even children. She was one the greatest to pirates to ever live. Within the pirates, she had set very strict rules regarding the treatment of prisoners. She was kindhearted with female prisoners and even released them. Many of her fleets took control of many coastal villages from Macau to Canton. She was cruel at times and people mention her as “The Terror of South China”.
Several movies, novels, books and video games around the world have featured her exploits.