Rebecca Simon, PhD

Why We Love Pirates: The Hunt for Captain Kidd and How He Changed Piracy Forever

Pirates scholar, Rebecca Simon, PhD, explains how the global manhunt for Captain Kidd turned pirates into the romantic antiheroes we love today.

Crime and punishment. During his life and after his death, Captain William Kidd’s name was well known in England and the American colonies. He was infamous for the crime for which he was hanged, piracy. Rebecca Simon dives into the details of the two-year manhunt for Captain Kidd. Captain Kidd was hanged in 1701, followed by a massive British-led hunt for all pirates during a period known as the Golden Age of Piracy. Ironically, public executions only increased the popularity of pirates. And, because the American colonies relied on pirates for smuggled goods such as spices, wines, and silks; pirates tended to be protected from capture.

All things pirates. The more pirates were hunted and executed, the more people became supportive of the “Robin Hoods of the Sea”―both because they saw the British’s treatment of them as an injustice and because they treasured the goods pirates brought to them. These historical events were pivotal in creating the portrayal of pirates as we know them today. They grew into romantic antiheroes―which ultimately led to characters like the mischievous but lovable Captain Jack Sparrow.

[Recorded March 02, 2023]

Why we love Pirates by Rebecca Simon

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    America's Summer Roadtrip 2020

      Rebecca Simon

      Rebecca Simon, PhD, was born in Los Angeles, California. She is an expert on the history of piracy and received a PhD on the subject at King’s College London in 2017. With a passion for public history, she has appeared on several podcasts, documentaries, and has written articles for both academic and popular audiences. A prolific traveler, Rebecca considers herself a citizen of the world. Rebecca currently lives in Los Angeles. She teaches history at Santa Monica College and is either planning her next international adventure or reading about all things pirates.

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