The Pirate Squadron of Bartholomew “Black Bart” Roberts in the Caribbean – 1721
Roberts was the most successful of the pirates of the notorious Golden Age of Piracy. He was a career officer in the merchant marine when he suddenly found himself pressed into service on a pirate ship after the ship he served on was captured. His excellent seamanship impressed his pirate mates and when the captain was killed, Roberts was elected the new captain. He wrote; “It is better to be a commander than a common man since I have dipped my hands in the muddy water and must be a pirate.”
And what a pirate captain he became: ruthless demanding and successful. His single ship grew to four ships carrying over 500 men. Other pirates preferred fast, small ships and worked by stealth. Robert’s small but heavily armed squad allowed him a bold devil-may-care style. His pirate flag (yes, most of the later pirates flew the Jolly Roger or something similar) consisted of his figure standing on two skulls, identified as ABH and AMH; “a Barbadian’s Head” and “a Martinican’s Head” in contempt for the Governors of those lands who had attempted to vanquish him.
The painting centers on his flagship, a 42 gun French warship he re-named the Royal Fortune (in his short career Roberts had three different ships named Royal Fortune). It shows a lower profile than normal as it was apparently his preference to have as flush a deck as possible for easier boarding
Roberts met his maker off the Coast of Africa, a dramatic battle with a Royal Navy Ship in 1722