Pirates and Heroes

There are hundreds of stories about heroes and pirates all over the world. Of course, whether someone was a hero or a pirate of course depended on whose side you were on.

Piet Hein

The Dutch are very proud of their hero Piet Hein, who famously beat the Spanish at their own game in 1628. He managed to capture the entire Spanish Silver Fleet, which was choca-bloc full of gold, silver and other valuables. It was worth an absolute fortune. Nobody else had ever managed such a successful raid before, and nobody ever did again. No wonder then that the Dutch thought he was a hero, but I guess the Spanish King may well have used other words for it. 🙂

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Michiel de Ruijter

If you think Piet Hein was great – how about Michiel de Ruijter – the greatest Dutch naval hero of all time. He went to sea aged 11 and was so talented that he became was a ships’ master when he was only 15. He had more naval successes than anybody else, and will always be a hero to the Dutch.

Stealing the Royal Charles

The British would not have agreed with them though. In 1667, in the middle of a war between the Netherlands and Great Britain, Michiel de Ruijter sailed his fleet up the Medway and straight to Chatham. He broke through the security lines and sank four British ships. He then stole their flagship, the ‘HMS Royal Charles’, right from under British noses and sailed it back to the Netherlands. So what does that make him, a hero or a pirate? You tell me…. 🙂