Enemy of All Mankind

This is my most recent book titled. “Enemy of All Mankind: A True Story of Piracy, Power and History’s First Global Manhunt” by Steven Johnson. This is a story of an English pirate named Henry Every who captained a pirate ship called “The Fancy” in 1695.

The Fancy was originally named the “Charles II” after the British King. It became “The Fancy” when Every and his men commandeered the ship in A Coruña, a port city in Spain. At that point the ship was renamed “The Fancy” and began its life as a pirate ship attacking shipping in the Indian Ocean.

Here is an excerpt from Chapter 1:

On a clear day, the lookout perched atop the forty-foot mainmast of the Mughal treasure ship can see almost ten miles before hitting the visual limits of the horizon line. But it is late summer, in the tropical waters of the Indian Ocean; the humidity lingering in the air draws a hazy curtain across the spyglass lens. And so by the time the English vessel comes into focus, she is only five miles away.

Eventually, the Fancy makes it way to Nassau in the Bahamas. Some of the crew took their share of the loot and returned to England where some of the crew were captured and eventually tried for piracy and other crimes.

So after the ships captured all of the loot, they had to make a hasty escape. They would certainly not want to be found and they couldn’t just waltz down the Thames to be greeted by the crowds.

The last part of the book covers the trial of six pirates that had been captured. The British government were trying to make a strong statement against piracy, so the trial was very important to the image of security of shipping.

So the first trial, the pirates were found “not guilty”. Of course, the Brit’s didn’t just let them go. So they had been found not guilty of piracy but the prosecution decided to charge them with mutiny. A subtle difference, I guess.

So on the second trial, they were all found guilty. In those days, they didn’t wait for an appeal. They just took them down to the execution dock and hanged them all. Back in those days executions were VERY public.

Here’s some more text:

Several days after the second trial ended, the six convicted mutineers—including Joseph Dawson, who had pled guilty twice—were brought back to Old Bailey for sentencing. Standing at the bar for one last time, each man was asked in turn by the clerk why they should not be sentenced to death for their crimes.

And one more thing, Henry Every was never captured.

It was an interesting book about which I had little knowledge. Worth reading.

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