Become a pirate expert or knight specialist!

Pirates and knights are the main characters in many stories. They were the adventurers of the olden days. Everyone knows them from films and books - sometimes they are the goodies, the heroes, sometimes they are the baddies, the villains. But do you know who they really were and where they lived?
Here are some of the key facts for you. Now you can learn everything and become a real pirate expert or knight specialist!

Pirates, the thieves of the seas

Pirates are also called "buccaneers". Pirates are thieves on the high seas, jumping aboard and capturing other ships. For as long as people have travelled the oceans, already many thousands of years, pirates have been menacing the seas. A lot of pirates were active between the 16th and 18th centuries in the Caribbean and along the coasts of South America, because at that time a lot of ships were travelling from there to Europe. The ships were always heavily loaded with supplies and treasure.

That is why it is called the "golden age" of piracy. The word "piracy" means "attack" or "steal". The pirates attacked a lot of ships and stole many things from the captains and crew.

Why were so many ships and so many pirates travelling the seas?

The kings of Spain and Portugal wanted to colonise America. That means that they wanted to make the people their subjects. But that was not the only reasons for colonisation. The silver that they found there was much more important. That silver was then taken back to Spain across the ocean on ships. One ship wasn't enough, so many ships were loaded with silver and set sail to Spain.

The kings of other countries, for example France, England, and the Netherlands, also wanted their share of the silver. They ordered the pirates to attack and plunder the Spanish ships. The orders were called "letters of marque" and gave the pirates permission to seize a ship. "Seize" meant going aboard a ship and taking command of the ship.

The feared pirate "Blackbeard"

Have you heard of the pirate "Blackbeard"? No? Then you aren't a pirate expert yet! Keep reading, because he was one of the most famous pirates ever. His real name was Edward Teach and he was an Englishman.

The name of his ship was also English: "Queen Anne's Revenge". He was given the nickname "Blackbeard" because he had a black beard. He was a feared pirate because he was particularly brutal to his opponents. Before a battle he placed burning wicks in the end of his long black beard. When his opponents then approached, they were often so scared that they surrendered straight away, without fighting at all.

The pirate trick with the "Jolly Roger"

Do you know who or what the "Jolly Roger" is? We bet that you don't know exactly, even if you are a true pirate expert. Before we tell you, you will have to read on! Before attacking an unknown ship, the pirates used a special trick.

As long as a pirate ship was looking for treasure they would often fly a false flag. That means that they often hung a fake flag from the end of the sail and were sometimes dressed as soldiers, so that their opponents couldn't tell straight away that they were actually pirates on a pirate ship. Telescope already existed back then. The pirates wanted to be able to approach their opponents without being recognised.
They only raised the "Jolly Roger" shortly before an attack. "Jolly Roger" is the name of the pirate flag that you surely know. It is a black flag with a skull and two crossbones below it. It was cause for fear and fright among their victims.

Do you want to play out a pirate attack yourself? Have a look at our "Adventure & Fantasy" tips where you can find instructions about how to make your very own pirate ship (link to "Pirate ship" craft idea).

Knights: strong men in metal armour

What do you think of when you hear the word knight? Armour? Castles? Jousting?
What ever comes to mind, read on to find out all the most important information about these knights in shining armour who lived in the Middle Ages.

I want to be a knight!

"I want to be a knight!" was the dream of many young boys many hundreds of years ago. Only boys could become knights. Girls were not strong enough for the job. Knights were warriors who rode their horses into battle in heavy suits of armour. Anyone who wanted to become a knight first had to have enough money to buy the expensive armour and weapons. They were often noblemen who owned a lot of land.

The training was tough. At the age of 7, boys had to go to a different castle. He then became a "knave" or "footboy" and served the ladies, for example carrying their luggage or reading to them.

After seven years he would be promoted to "squire". Then he went into battle. He would carry the knight's shield and spear and if the knight's lance broke in the battle he would give them a replacement.

The young squire would then become a knight at the age of 21. He would be "knighted" during a grand ceremony, the king giving him a light tap on each shoulder with a sword.

I am as helpful as Sir Geraint!

When a man become a knight, he had to swear an oath. He had to swear to courageously fight for the king and be forever loyal to the king.
The most well known knights are the "Knights of the Round Table". Nobody knows exactly if they really existed. But whether or not they were actually real, they were certainly the best knights. Each of the twelve knights had a special virtue or feature:

  • Sir Lancelot – the valiant
  • Sir Tristram - the honourable
  • Sir Galahad – the friendly
  • Sir Geraint – the helpful
  • Sir Lamorak – the noble
  • Sir Bors – the righteous
  • Sir Gawain – the good
  • Sir Gaheris – the sincere
  • Sir Percival – the brave
  • Sir Bedivere – the gallant
  • Sir Gareth – the earnest, and
  • Sir Kay – the humble.

Are you particularly helpful, particularly friendly or especially brave? Then become a knight too! You can find instructions on how to make your own knight's castle in our craft ideas (link to "Knight's castle craft idea).