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The History of Maritime Piracy

Cindy Vallar, Editor & Reviewer
P.O. Box 425, Keller, TX  76244-0425

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Time Line of History
Piracy & Privateering, Maritime, Scottish, & Events

(updated 3 February 2023)
This time line is a work in progress. It incorporates events important to pirate history, as well as important historical happenings at sea, in Scotland, and around the world. Although pirates gave allegiance to no nation, they didn't work in a void. What happened on land could and did impact what happened at sea. Dates are divided into centuries first, then by year, and if the exact date is known, by month and day within that year.

Special thanks to Luis for his assistance in researching some of these dates.
Special thanks to those who have caught my errors and let me know.

Ahoy!Talk Like a Pirate Day, September 19Ahoy!

Ship's wheelNational Maritime Day, May 22
Ship's wheel

Before the 1st Century               1st-3rd Centuries               4th & 5th Centuries               6th & 7th Centuries

8th Century               9th Century               10th Century               11th Century               12th Century

13th Century               14th Century               15th Century               16th Century               17th Century

18th Century               19th Century               20th Century               21st Century

Before the 1st Century
4977 BCE
April 27: According to the calculations of Johannes Kepler, a German mathematician and astronomer, this is the day that the universe is created.

340 BCE
Lukkans raid Cyprus.

1220 BCE - 1186 BCE

Sea People plague Egypt, Syria, Cyprus, and Crete. Around 1200, they destroy several cities, including Ugarit. They are defeated in 1186 by Ramses III.

1184 BCE

June 11: Troy is sacked and burned during the Trojan War.

781 BCE

June 4: Chinese record a solar eclipse. It is the oldest written record of such an event.

753 BCE
April 21: Founding of Rome

694 BCE
Sennacherib, king of Assyria, attempts to stamp out piracy.

597 BCE
March 16: Babylonians capture Jerusalem.

589 BCE
First recorded incident of piracy in the South China Sea

509 BCE
Roman Republic founded

480 BCE

Sea battle of Salamis (first recorded sea battle in history)

399 BCE
February 15: Athens sentences Socrates to death for corrupting youths and for not being pious.

334 BCE

May 22: Alexander the Great's Macedonian army defeats Darius III of Persia at the Battle of the Granicus.

332 BCE
Alexander the Great conquers Egypt.

331 BCE
Alexander the Great appoints Admiral Amphoterus to hunt pirates.

October 1: Battle of Gaugamela. Alexander the Great defeats Darius III of Persia. It signals the end of the Persian empire.

323 BCE

Alexander the Great dies.

c. 300 BCE

Theophrasus, a Greek scientist, uses messages in bottles to study the currents of the Mediterranean.

Rhodes develops the triemiola, a three-banked ship that uses both sail and oar together. These vessels hunt pirates.

302 BCE

8,000 pirates join Demetrius in his fight to control a portion of Alexander the Great's empire during the 4th Diadoch War.

241 BCE
March 10: Romans sink the Carthaginian fleet at the Battle of the Aegates Islands, bringing an end to the 1st Punic War.

229 BCE

Gaius and Lucius Corancanius, official envoys from Rome, request that Queen Teuta restrain her fleet after most honest trade grinds to halt because of piratical attacks.

228 BCE
Queen Teuta surrenders to the Romans, agrees to pay annual tribute, and relinquishes most of her territorial holdings. She retains the right to sail only two unarmed galleys at one time.

218 BCE
The Second Punic War begins. By the time it ends in 201 BCE, the Roman Republic controls Italy.

202 BCE

February 28: Liu Bang is crowned Emperor Gaozu in China, beginning four centuries of rule by the Han Dynasty.

192 BCE
Rome conquers the Aetolian League, and the pirates relocate to Cilicia.

146 BCE
Rome conquers Greece and Macedonia.

February 5: Rome destroys Carthage, bringing an end to the 3rd Punic War.

105 BCE

October 1: Germanic tribes defeat the Roman army in the Battle of Arauso.

101 BCE
Rome passes its first anti-piracy law.

86 BCE

Pirate fleet defeats Roman squadron off Brindisi, in Southern Italy, disrupting communications between Rome and Greece.

c. 75 BCE
Cilician pirates capture Julius Caesar. He remains their prisoner for just over a month until the ransom is paid. Once he gains his freedom, he gathers a punitive force and returns to their island, where he crucifies the pirates.

74 BCE

Marcus Antonius Creticus is defeated while attacking Cretan pirates. He soon dies.

72 BCE

Cilician pirates aid Spartacus, who leads a slave revolt in Italy. This alliance inspires Rome to deal with the piracy threat.

69 BCE

Pirates sack the sacred isle of Delos where the Roman Empire's main treasury is located.

67 BCE
Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus (Pompey the Great) is granted an imperium to enforce Rome’s anti-piracy law. He eradicates the pirates in 49 days.

48 BCE

August 9: Julius Caesar defeats Pompey at the Battle of Pharsalus during the Roman Civil War (49-45 BCE). Pompey flees to Egypt, where he is subsequently murdered.

September 28: King Ptolemy of Egypt orders the assassination of Pompey the Great after he lands in Egypt.

45 BCE

January 1: First use of the Julian calendar

44 BCE

Resurgence of piracy in Mediterranean.

March 15: Julius Caesar is assassinated. Brutus Cassius and other Roman senators stab him to death.

36 BCE

Octavian defeats Sextus and crushes the pirates.

31 BCE

September 2: Battle of Actium. Octavian, who later becomes Augustus Caesar, wins this decisive naval battle against Mark Antony.
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    1st - 3rd Centuries
Jesus is crucified.


March 25: According to Dionysius Exiguus, a 6th-century monk and calendar maker, this is the date of the first Easter.


January 24: Officers of the Praetorian Guard assassinate Caligula. His uncle Claudius succeeds him as emperor.

July 18: Fire spreads through Rome during Nero's reign.


June 8: Jews rebel against Rome. They capture the fortress of Antonia in Jerusalem.


June 9: Roman Emperor Nero commits suicide.

June 21: During the Great Jewish Revolt, the Romans capture Jericho.


June 5: Titus and the legions of Rome breach the middle wall of Jerusalem.

August 29: Jerusalem falls to Roman forces, marking the collapse of the Jewish state.


April 16: Masada, a Jewish fortress atop a mesa in Israel, falls to 8,000 Roman soldiers after a siege that lasts several months. Of the 960 Judean rebels, only two women and five children survived. Rather than become slaves, the others commit suicide.


August 24: Mount Vesuvius, which has been dormant for centuries, erupts, burying Pompeii and Herculaneum and killing 15,000. The cities aren't excavated until the mid-18th century.


Sighelm makes a pilgrimage to Indian at the behest of Alfred the Great.


September 13: Romans begin building Hadrian's Wall in Northern England.


March 28: Praetorian Guards assassinate Emperor Pertinax of Rome. They auction the throne to the highest bidder, Didius Julianus.


April 8: Roman Emperor Caracalla is assassinated by his Praetorian Guard prefect Marcus Opellius Macrinus, who succeeds him as emperor.


Pirates plague Chinese coast.


December 25: Sextus Julius Africanus identifies this year as the birth date of Jesus.
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4th & 5th Centuries
September 3: St. Marinus establishes San Marino, one of the world's smallest nations and the world's oldest republic still in existence today.


February 23: Emperor Diocletian of Rome begins persecuting Christians and razes the church at Nicomedia.


August 25: Council of Nicaea closes. This first ecumenical council of the Christian church adopts the Nicene Creed, establishing the doctrine of the Holy Trinity.


Constantine moves to Byzantium and founds the Byzantine Empire.


September 13: The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is consecrated in Jerusalem.


Summer: Large fleets of Chinese pirates attack all ships they encounter.


January 1: Final competition of gladiators in Rome


August 24: Alaric I and the Visigoths sack Rome, bringing about the downfall of the Western Roman Empire.


March 25: Founding of Venice


Saint Patrick begins to spread Christianity through Ireland.


Saint Patrick makes a pilgrimage to Cruachan Aigle (Eagle Mountain) in Ireland.


September 20: Flavius Aetius, a Roman general, defeats Attila the Hun at the Battle of the Catalaunian Plavis. This ferocious battle stops the Huns' first advance in Europe.


June 8: Attila the Hun invades Italy.
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6th & 7th Centuries
January 16: King Totila and the Ostrogoths conquer Rome after a long siege.


May 7: The dome of the Hagia Sophia collapses in Constantinople.


August 21: St. Columba sees the Loch Ness monster.

First record of a pirate attack in Chinese waters

June 18: Coronation of Li Yuan as emperor, beginning 300 years of the Tang Dynasty's rule of China.

July 16: Muhammad begins his flight from Mecca to Medina.


June 8: Muhammad, founder of Islam, dies in Medina.


Carthage falls.
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8th Century
August 29: Copper coins are minted for the first time in Japan.


October 9: Charlemagne and Carloman I, his brother, become Kings of the Franks.

July 31: First record of the eruption of Mount Fuji in Japan.


Charlemagne conquers most of Italy.


Vikings' first raid on England. Three ships of Norsemen land on the Wessex coast and slay the king's official.


June 8: Vikings raid Saint Cuthbert's monastery on Lindisfarne Island in Britain. The monks are slain, the monastery looted and set afire.
Charlemagne organizes coastal defenses north of the Seine estuary against pirates.

December 25: Charlemagne, king of the Franks, is crowned Holy Roman Emperor. He is the first such monarch.

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9th Century
Vikings slay sixty-eight monks on Iona.


Korean pirates attack Japan.


Korean pirates attack Japan.


Oseberg ship burial in Norway.


Vikings winter in Ireland for the first time.

July 10: Dublin is founded on the river Liffey in Ireland. At the time, it is known as Dubh Linn (black pool).


June 24: Vikings destroy Nantes, France.


Vikings raid Lisbon and Cadiz, but a Muslim army repulses them at Seville.


Vikings sack Hamburg.
March 28: Vikings sack Paris.


Fleet of Saracen pirates attack Rome. Unable to penetrate the city's walls, they plunder the many outlying villas and basilica of Saint Peter. On their way home, they encountered a storm and the ships sank.


Vikings winter in England for the first time.


June 18: Rus Vikings attack Constantinople.


Pirates attack boats carrying tax rice and slaying people in west of Japan.


Viking army (referred to in English sources as the Great Heathen Army) invades Britain. The Vikings that take part are Norse, Danes, and Swedes and are commanded by three sons of Ragnar Lodbrok: Halfdan Ragnarsson, Ivar the Boneless, and Ubba. They land on the coast of East Anglia and eventually capture Northumbria and York.


Danes capture York.


North African Muslims capture the Maltese Islands.

c. 875

King Alfred founds English navy and designs new ship to combat Vikings.


May 6: Alfred the Great and his West Saxon Army defeat the Vikings, under the command of Guthrum the Old, at the Battle of Edington.


Vikings attack cities along the Rhine River, including Aix-la-Chapelle, Cologne, and Trier.


November: Viking seige of Paris begins. Nearly a year passes before the siege is lifted in October 886.


Korean pirates attack Japan.


October 6: Formosus becomes pope. Nine months after his death in 896, his body is dug up, propped on a throne, and placed on trial. He will be found guilty of the charges against him and his papacy is declared invalid. This and the treatment of his corpse will divide Rome; Pope Stephen VI will be imprisoned and strangled to death. Pope Theodore II reinstates Formosus's ordinations and reinters his body in Saint Peter's Basilica. The incident is one of the most bizarre in papal history.


Korean pirates attack Japan.


King Alfred of Wessex in England defeats Danes.


circa: Gokstad ship buried.

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10th Century
Vikings expelled from Dublin, Ireland.

July 29: Saracen pirates sack Thessalonica. Their leader is Leo of Tripoli.

August 5: King Edward and Earl Aethelred defeat a Viking army at the Battle of Tettenhall. It is the last major raid by the invaders.

October 1: Mary, Jesus's mother (also known as the Theotokos), appears at the church in Balchernae during the siege of Constantinople. She holds her veil over those who are praying, including Saint Andrew of Constantinople.

Viking raiders prey on shipping in the Caspian Sea.

September 4: Athelstan of the West Saxons becomes the first king to rule all of England.

June 23: Founding of Icelandic Althing, the oldest parliament in the world.

First time in Japanese history that pirates band together under a strong leader, Fujiwara Sumitomo.


September 9: King Olaf of Norway, aboard Long Serpent, is defeated in the Battle of Svolder, one of the greatest naval battles of the Viking Era.

October 9: Leif Ericson discovers Vinland.

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