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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

11th Century
Aethelred orders the slaying of all Danes in England.


Swein Forkbeard becomes the first Viking king to rule England.


April 23: Battle of Clontarf in Ireland between forces led by High King Brian Boru and Máel Mórda mac Murchada, King of Leinster. The Vikings are defeated and Ireland comes under control of the Irish.


Jurchen pirates attack Tsushima and Iki, as well as several places on mainland Japan.


July 10: Lady Godiva supposedly rides naked through Coventry on a horse. Her purpose is to force her husband, the Earl of Mercia, to lower taxes.

August 14: King Duncan I of Scotland is killed by his first cousin and rival, Macbeth, in battle. Macbeth becomes King of Scots.


March 12: Pope Leo IX escapes captivity and returns home.


August 15: Malcolm Canmore, the eldest son of Duncan I, slays his father's killer, King Macbeth, in battle.


December 28: Edward the Confessor's consecration of Westminster Abbey in London.


King Harold Godwinson assembles largest naval fleet in England to date.

September 28: William the Conqueror invades England. This becomes known as the Norman Conquest.

October 14: Battle of Hastings in which Harold II is slain and the invader, William the Conqueror, wins. This victory establishes Norman rule in England.

December 25: Crowning of William the Conqueror in Westminster Abbey. The coronation completes the Norman Conquest of England.

June 4: Roquefort cheese is created for the first time in a cave near Roquefort, France.


First Crusade begins.


June 7: The first Crusaders reach Jerusalem.

July 14: Christian forces capture and plunder Jerusalem during the First Crusade after a seven-week siege. Many Muslims and Jews are massacred.

July 16: Crusaders herd Jews into a synagogue and torch the temple.

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12th Century
Hospitalers of St. John of Jerusalem founded. They eventually become the Knights of Malta.

Chief Priest of Kumano commissioned to use “warrior monks” to capture pirates infesting Kii province, Japan.

Taira Masamori, a Japanese warrior, returns from expedition with many pirate heads.

January 16: The Council of Nablus enacts laws governing the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem.

November 25: The duke of Normandy, William Aetheling, dies in a shipwreck on his way to England.

April 27: David I becomes King of Scots.

August 30: European leaders outlaw the crossbow, hoping that it will put an end to war forever.

May 24: Malcolm IV becomes King of Scots.

December 4: Adrian IV becomes pope. He is the only Englishman to hold the papal title.

December 29: Four knights murder Archbishop Thomas Becket at the high altar of Canterbury Cathedral.

February 21: Pope Alexander III canonizes Thomas Beckett, Archbishop of Canterbury.

August 9: Construction begins on the Tower of Pisa. It takes 200 years to complete.

July 13: A force loyal to Henry II of England captures William I of Scotland at Alnwick.

May 22: Assassins attempt to kill Saladin near Aleppo.

Minamoto Yoritomo becomes Japan’s first shogun.

Margaritone of Brindisi, a pirate turned privateer, proclaims himself Count of Cephalonia. He seizes control of the Dalmatian Islands and turns them into a base for privateers.

October 2: Saladin captures Jerusalem from the Crusaders.

July 6: Richard the Lionheart is crowned king of England.

October 1: The grand master of the Knights Templar, Gerard de Ridefort, is slain during the Siege of Acre.

March 16: Jews residing in York, England are besieged in Clifford's Tower. Those who don't commit suicide are massacred, rather than submit to being baptized.

June 10: Emperor Frederick I, also known as Frederick Barbarossa, of the Holy Roman Empire drowns during an attempt to cross the Saleph River on the Third Crusade to the Holy Land.

June 8: Richard I of England arrives at Acre, Israel to join the siege during the Third Crusade.

August 20: Richard the Lionheart kills 3,000 Muslim prisoners in Acre.

September 7: Saladin's army attacks Richard the Lionheart's force at the Battle of Arsüf, which the English king successfully counterattacks.

September 21: Leopold V, Duke of Austria, captures Richard the Lionhearted, King of England.

When Naples falls to the Holy Roman Empire, pirate-turned-privateer Margaritone of Brindisi is captured and imprisoned for the remainder of his life.

June 10: Fire erupts in Chartres Cathedral in France.

The military order known as the Teutonic Knights of Saint Mary's Hospital of Jerusalem is founded.


July 1: China invents the first sunglasses.

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13th Century
Crusaders sack Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade.

Aegean Sea becomes haven for pirates as a result of the sacking of Constantinople.


Eustace the Monk joins a band of pirates and uses the Channel Islands as a haven.


Eustace the Monk raids Boulogne. King Philip of France is forced to pay him protection money.


After allying himself with Prince Louis of France, Eustace the Monk attacks English coastal villages.

July 10: London burns to the ground.

August 25: Under the leadership of 10-year-old Nicolas, the Children's Crusade reaches Genoa.


July 27: King John of England loses Normandy and other French possession after his forces are defeated at the first Battle of Bouvines.


June 15: King John signs the Magna Carta at Runnymede, near Windsor, England.


December 22: Pope Honorius III sanctions the Dominican order.


August 24: Eustace the Monk and his pirates are captured off Sandwich. The English behead him and parade through the streets of Sandwich with his head on a spike.


Japanese pirates attack Korea’s southern coast.

December 25: St. Francis of Assisi creates the first Nativity scene.


Authorities on Kyushu, Japan execute 90 pirates.

July 14: Louis VIII becomes King of France. Six years earlier, he attempted to become King of England at the behest of barons opposed to King John.

November 23: Prince Leszek I, also known as Leszek the White, of Poland is assassinated in Gasawa during an assembly of Polish dukes.


William de Briggeho is executed for piracy, the first recorded execution of a pirate in England.


The Holy Roman Emperor bestows upon the Teutonic Knights of Saint Mary's Hospital of Jerusalem full sovereignty over Baltic lands.


December 6: Mongols destroy Kiev. Prior to the initial occupation 50,000 live there. When the Mongols finish with their destruction, only 2,000 remained.


William Maurice, a pirate, is the first man to be hanged, drawn, and quartered in England.

Lübeck and Hamburg form what will become known as the Hanse (the Hanseatic League), a merchant guild, to oversee maritime commerce and protect against pirates.


April 5: Alexander Nebsky defeats the Teutonic Knights in the Battle of the Ice.


April 13: The Seventh Crusade is defeated in Eygpt. King Louis IX is taken prisoner.


December 15: Hulagu Khan and his Mongolian forces destroy Alamut, the Hashshashin (Assassins) stronghold in Persia.


Chartres Cathedral in France is dedicated. King Louis XI and his family are present.

May 5: Kublai Khan becomes ruler of the Mongol Empire.


October 2: Battle of Largs between Norwegian invaders and Scottish forces. A legend about the thistle warning the Scots of the attack lead to it becoming the national flower of Scotland.


May 14:  Battle of Lewes during the Second Barons' War. Simon de Montfort the Younger, Earl of Leicester, defeats King Henry III.


The French draft the Rules of Oleron, the first identifiable code pertaining to maritime practices.


May 10: All Jews in Vienna must wear distinctive garb on orders of the church.

July 26: Pope Clement IV forms the Inquisition in Rome.


Crusaders of the Eighth Crusade capture Tunis.


Kublai Khan becomes the first Yuan or Mongol emperor of China.


The crown prince of Korea weds Kublai Khan’s daughter.


August 19: Edward I becomes king of England.

October 5: Kublai Khan invades Japan.


Giovanni de lo Cavo seizes Rhodes and becomes the island’s governor. Rhodes becomes a thriving haven for pirates and slavers.


July 29: Japan beheads five emissaries sent by Kublai Khan.


August 14: Kublai Khan launches a second Mongol invasion of Japan. His fleet of 3,500 ships disappear in a typhoon near Japan.


October 3: Dafydd ap Gruffydd, Prince of Gwynedd in Wales, is hanged, drawn, and quartered.


June 26: According to the Lüneburg manuscript, this is the day on which a piper leads away 130 children from Hamelin, Germany. They are never seen again.


December 14: Zuiderzee seawall collapses during the St. Lucia's Flood. More than 50,000 die in the Netherlands. This is the fifth largest recorded flood in history.


July 18: Edward I orders all Jews to leave England. The edict remains in place for 350 years.


May 10: Nobles in Scotland recognize the authority of England's king, Edward I.

May 18: Acre, the last Crusader stronghold, falls after 100 years. The stronghold is destroyed by Mamluks, under the command of Sultan al-Ashraf Khalil. This defeat signals the end of the Crusades.


Marco Polo returns from China.

July 5: Scotland and France form the Auld Alliance against England.


April 27: Edward I of England defeats the Scots at the Battle of Dunbar and takes the coronation stone of Scone to Westminster Abbey in London.

June 19: Louis IX of France decrees that all Jews must wear a yellow badge in public. Those who do not will be fined 10 silver livres.


September 11: William Wallace defeats the English at the Battle at Stirling Bridge in Scotland.


July 22: The English army defeats the Scots at the Battle of Falkirk.


circa: Formation of League of the Cinque Ports. Part of the league's goal is to protect the English Channel from pirates.

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14th Century
July 20: During the Wars of Scottish Independence, Stirling Castle falls to Edward I of England.


August 5: The English capture William Wallace near Glasgow, Scotland and transport him to London to stand trial for treason.

23: William Wallace of Scotland is executed for high treason by Edward I of England.

November 14: Clement V becomes pope, the first to be based in Avignon, France instead of Rome.


March 25: Robert the Bruce is crowned King of Scots at Scone after the murder of John "the Red" Comyn.


Knights of Saint John capture the island of Rhodes.


May 11: Fifty-four Knights Templar are burned at the stake in France after being declared heretics.


July 7: The Chancellor of the University of Oxford forbids students from carrying weapons.


June 24: Battle of Bannockburn. Robert the Bruce of Scotland's victory over the forces of Edward II of England gain Scotland's independence from England.


April 6: Scots sign the Declaration of Arbroath reaffirming their independence.


October 14: Robert the Bruce and his army defeat King Edward of England. Edward must acknowledge Scotland's independence.


May 1: With the signing of the Treaty of Edinburgh, the Wars of Scottish Independence come to an end. England recognizes Scotland as an independent kingdom.


June 24: During the Hundred Years' War, the English fleet destroys the French fleet at the battle of Sluys, off the coast of Flanders. It was the first major conflict between the two sides.


August 26: Battle of Crécy takes place. It is the first time cannons are used in battle, and Edward III's English longbows lead to the defeat of Philip VI's French army.

October 17: Battle of Neville's Cross. Edward III of England captures David II in Calais. The King of Scots spends 11 years in the Tower of London.


Bubonic Plague strikes and 1/3 of Europe's population dies.


January 9: In Basel, Switzerland, 700 Jews die when their houses are set afire with them alive inside.

August 24: 6,000 Jews are blamed for the plague in Mainz and are killed.


The wuko mount six large raids against the Koreans. For the next 25 years, they conduct an average of five such raids.

(circa) Ships are fitted with rudders instead of steering oars.

August 29: Battle for Winchelsea. The English navy defeats a fleet of 40 ships from Spain.


The wuko attack the Shandong peninsula of China.


April 13: Hail storm in France kills 1,000 English soldiers.


August 30: Battle of Lake Poyang in China. Two rebel leaders, Chen Youliang and Zhu Yuanzhang, fight each other in one of the largest naval battles in history during the Yuan Dynasty.


Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang of China passes a series of maritime prohibitions in an effort to stem piracy. The thinking is that if there is no maritime trade, there will be no piracy. The opposite occurs.

January 17: Pope Gregory XI returns the papacy from Avignon, France to Rome, Italy.

January 23: The Ming Dynasty begins in China.


April 22: Construction begins on the Bastille fortress in Paris, France.


January 22: Robert II is crowned King of Scots, becoming the first monarch of the House of Stewart.


June 24: Inexplicably, people on the streets of Aachen, Germany experience hallucinations. They also twitch and jump about uncontrollably until they collapse from exhaustion. The bizarre condition is known as Saint John's Dance (or The Dance Plague).


Korean cannon destroy a large fleet of wuko at the mouth of Geum river.


July 15: John Ball, leader of the Peasants' Revolt in England is hanged, drawn, and quartered. King Richard II is present at his execution.


May 9: Portugal and England sign the Treaty of Windsor, which is still in force and will become the oldest diplomatic alliance in the world.


July 1: Sixty ships from France and Genoa set sail to attack Barbary pirates in a Tunisian stronghold during the Barbary or Mahdia Crusade.

October 29: First witchcraft trial is held in Paris, France.


Several ships of the Vitalienbrüder (Victual Brothers) attack Stralsund cog. Rather than surrender the well-equipped and numerous crew fight back and successfully repel boarders. More than 100 pirates are captured and placed into large barrels. Only their heads protrude. These barrels are stored in the hold until the cog returned to Stralsund, where the pirates are beheaded three hours later.

June 4: A mob, led by Ferrand Martinez, torches the Jewish quarter of Seville, Spain. Those Jews who survive the conflagration are sold into slavery.


Vitalienbrüder (Victual Brothers) sack Bergen, Norway.


The Hanseatic League declares war on pirates.


Winter: Maritime trade at a standstill in the Baltic because of the pirates.

November 3: Charles VI expels Jews from France.


Grand Master of the Teutonic Order and his knights invade Gotland and expel the Vitalienbrüder from the island.


circa: Ship design adds second mast to larger ships.

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15th Century
October: Klaus Störtebeker and 71 of his men are executed for piracy in Hamburg.


Gödeke Michels and 80 pirates are executed.


July 21: Battle of Shrewsbury, first battle in which English archers fight each other on English soil.


Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimochi sends 20 pirate leaders to China as an act of goodwill. The Ming Emperor demonstrates leniency and returns them to Japan. A stove with a copper steamer basket is made. One pirate gets into the basket while his comrades stoke the fire. This is repeated until all the pirates are scalded to death.

July 11: Zheng He sails from China on the first of seven expeditions for the Ming Dynasty.


June 26: Council of Pisa deposes popes Gregory XII of Rome and Benedict XIII of Avignon. The council elects Cardinal Peter Philarghi as pope and he becomes Pope Alexander V.


July 15: Battle of Grunwald (first Battle of Tannenburg) is fought. It is one of medieval Europe's largest battles during the Poland-Lithuanian Teutonic War.


January 16: The Papacy appoints the Medici family as their official banker.


The wuko take gold and 150 people during a raid on Korea.

May 4: John Wycliffe and Jan Hus, both religious reformers, are condemned as heretics at the Council of Constance.

July 6: John Hus, a Czech religious reformer, is burned at the stake for heresy in Germany. His criticisms of the Catholic Church predate the Reformation by more than a century.

October 25: Henry V and his English army defeat the French at the Battle of Agincourt during the Hundred Years' War.


November 11: The Great Schism ends with the election of Martin V as pope.


Henry V launches Grace Dieu (1,400 tons), the largest warship in England for the next two centuries.

June 19: Korea's Sejong the Great sends a fleet of more than 200 ships and 17,000 soldiers to Tsushima, Japan because of pirates based on the island. The attack initially proves successful with 135 pirates killed or taken captive, 129 ships burned, and around 2,000 houses destroyed. Twenty-one slaves and 131 pirate captives are freed. Four weeks later, Tsushima pirate lord Sō Sadamori ambushes the Koreans, who negotiate a truce and leave on 3 July.


October 28: The Ming dynasty's Yongle Emperor declares Beijing the capital of China.


April 5: After 18 years of detention in England, King James I of Scotland returns home.


August 7: Proceedings begin in Valais Canton, Switzerland. It is the first organized witch trial.


April 29: Joan of Arc arrives at the siege of Orleans, France.

May 7: Joan of Arc and the French Army break the siege on Orleans.

July 16: Joan of Arc and the French Army enter Rheims, France.


(Circa) Little Ice Age begins

May 23: Joan of Arc is captured at Compiegne and sold to the English.


January 3: Joan of Arc is delivered to Bishop Pierre Cauchon.

January 9: Investigations begin in Rouen, France, which is occupied by the British, for the trial of Joan of Arc.

February 21: During her trial for heresy, Joan of Arc is interrogated.

May 30: Joan of Arc is burned at the stake in Rouen, France by the English.


Zheng He sets off on his last voyage. Afterward China favors isolationism.


July 16: In order to stop the spread of the Black Death, kissing is banned in England.


The first African slaves arrive in Portugal.

June 24: King Henry VI of England founds Eton College.


May 29: Ottoman Army captures Constantinople, ending the Byzantine Empire.


February 23: Johannes Gutenberg prints the first Bible using a printing press.

May 22: First battle in the Wars of the Roses, which will last thirty years. Richard of York captures King Henry VI and St. Albans.


July 7: 25 years after she was burned at the stake, Joan of Arc is acquitted of heresy at her retrial.


March 1: The Unitas Fratrum is established in Kunvald, on the Bohemia-Moravia border. It becomes the second oldest Protestant denomination and is the forerunner of the Moravian Church.


July 10: Richard of York defeats Henry VI at Northampton during England's Wars of the Roses.


February 17: The House of York and the House of Lancaster again fight at St. Albans. Queen Margaret defeats the Earl of Warwick and frees King Henry VI.

March 29: Edward IV defeats Henry VI in the bloodiest battle of the Wars of the Roses.


June 17: Vlad the Impaler attempts to assassinate Mehmed II.


October 18: Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon wed.


October: Chen Zuyi and two other pirate leaders are executed after being captured by Admiral Zheng He in a battle in which more than 5,000 pirates perish.


May 4: At the Battle of Tewkesbury, the last battle in the Wars of the Roses, the House of York soundly defeats the House of Lancaster. Edward IV is restored to the throne.


February 20: Norway cedes the Orkney and Shetland Islands to Scotland as part of a dowry payment.
The first edition of Ptolemy’s Geography is published. It is the only cartography book to survive from the classical period.


November 18: William Caxton publishes Dictes and Soyenges of the Philosophers, becoming the first dated book in English to be printed.


Ferdinand and Isabella institute the Inquisition in Spain. It isn't officially abolished until the 19th century.

February 18: George, Duke of Clarence and the king of England's brother, is quietly executed in the Tower of London after his conviction for treason. He is reputed to have been drowned in a butt of Malmsey wine.


April 9: Edward V succeeds his father to the English throne at the age of twelve. He is never crowned king and disappears. It is assumed that he and his younger brother Richard are murdered while imprisoned in the Tower of London.

July 6: Richard Duke of Gloucester is crowned Richard III of England.


August 22: Richard III of England is slain in the Battle of Bosworth Field, bringing an end to the Wars of the Roses. He is the last English monarch to succumb in battle.

October 30: Henry Tudor is crowned Henry VII of England, founding the Tudor dynasty and ending the Wars of the Roses.
January 15: Bartolomeu Dias, the first known European to sail around the Cape of Good Hope, returns to Portugal.

June 11: King James III of Scotland dies during the Battle of Sauchieburn.


Henry VII and Ferdinand of Aragon sign a treaty that revokes all letters of reprisal and details the steps necessary for either monarch must take prior to the issuance of future letters of marque and reprisal.

May 1: Christopher Columbus appears before Queen Isabella of Spain and proposes to search for a western route to India.


January 2: The Emir of Granada, Muhammad XII, surrenders to Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile, thus ending centuries of Muslim rule on the Iberian peninsula.

March 3: Spain announces that it will expel all Jews from the country.

August 3: Christopher Columbus, leading an expedition on behalf of Spain, sets sail on his first transatlantic voyage. He and his men are aboard the Nińa, the Pinta, and the Santa María.

October 12: Christopher Columbus reaches San Salvador (Bahamas).

October 24: 24 Jews are burned at the stake in Mecklenburg, Germany.

December 6:
Christopher Columbus discovers Tortuga.

December 25: The Santa
María runs aground and sinks on the north coast of Hispaniola. Columbus sets sail for Spain, while the crew founds a colony.


September 24: With 17 ships, Christopher Columbus sails on his second expedition to the New World.

June 7: Treaty of Tordesillas confirms Pope Alexander VI’s division of the New World between Spain and Portugal.


June 1: Scotch Whisky appears in archival records for the first time when the Exchequer Rolls of Scotland list Friar John Corn as a distiller of the product.


January 3: Leonardo da Vinci tests his flying machine, but is unsuccessful.

March 12: Jews expelled from Syria.


Perkin Warbeck, a Flemish pretender to the English throne, invades England. He claims to be Edward IV's son.

May 10: Amerigo Vespucci sets sail on his first voyage to the New World.

June 24: John Cabot lands at Newfoundland, becoming the first European to set foot in North America since the Vikings.

July 8: Vasco da Gama sails from Lisbon, Portugal with four ships bound for India.

November 22: Vasco da Gama rounds the Cape of Good Hope on the first voyage from Portugal to India.


Vasco da Gama arrives at Calicut, India.

Santo Domingo is founded on the southern coast of Hispaniola, and becomes the first fortified Spanish settlement in the Americas.

March 2: Vasco da Gama's fleet visits Mozambique.

June 26: The Chinese invent the toothbrush, which has bristles made from a boar.


September 22: Switzerland becomes an independent state.

November 23: Perkin Warbeck, who claims to be the lost son of Edward IV and a pretender to the English throne, is hanged after a supposed attempt to escape from the Tower of London.


March 9: Pedro Álvares Cabral leaves Lisbon, Portugal with 13 ships. After they arrive in the West Indies, he claims Brazil for Portugal.

July 15: At the wedding of Astoree Baglione and Lavinia Colonna in Perugea, Italy, the Baglione family is massacred.

September 13: Pedro Álvares Cabral arrives in Calicut, India.

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