Roberts, known as Black Bart
Bart was a Welsh seaman (born in 1682 in Pembrokeshire) who turned to piracy. He never even wanted to become a pirate, yet within a year he’d become
one of the most successful of his era. During his brief but dazzling career he captured over 200 ships.
More than all his pirate contemporaries combined.
Pirates like Blackbeard are better remembered than
the young Welshman, as either their notoriety or their wild appearance captured the public imagination. Yet Bartholomew Roberts, or ‘Black Bart’ as he was known, was arguably the most successful pirate of them all.
Described as a tall, attractive man, who loved expensive clothes and jewellery, Roberts quickly rose through the ranks as a pirate under the Welsh captain Howell Davies and soon captured his own vessel in 1721, which he renamed Royal Fortune. This ship was close to being impregnable, so well-armed and protected that only a formidable navy vessel could hope to stand against her.
Roberts was successful, in part, because he usually commanded a fleet of anywhere from two to four pirate ships which could surround and catch victims. In large numbers this pirate convoy could set its
sights higher than lesser cutthroat squadrons. Black Bart was also ruthless,
so that his crew and enemies feared him.
His reign of terror finally ended off the West African coast in February 1722, when he was killed in a sea battle with a British warship. His passing, and the mass trial and hanging of his crew that followed,
was one of the events that marked the end of the ‘Golden
Age of Piracy’.
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