The opinion that anarchy reigned among pirates is erroneous. The life of pirates was subject to certain laws - the pirate code, the requirements of which had to be strictly followed. Each of the sailors put his signature under the agreement that was concluded between all members of the crew. The most respected and experienced sailor was elected at its head, who acted as the captain and was also obliged to adhere to the rules determined by the agreement.
In many ways, the pirate agreement resembled a letter of marque. Here is one example of a real-life piracy agreement drawn up by members of John Phillips' crew aboard the Avenger:
- Each of the team members has equal decision-making rights, an equal share of the loot and is free to use this share as he pleases, unless the team is experiencing hunger or other deprivation.
- Each team member must contribute a share in the total production and then has the right to participate in its division. Whoever tries to hide part of the captured will be landed on a desert island.
- Playing cards or dice for money is prohibited.
- Lights and candles must be extinguished at eight o'clock in the evening. If someone wants to continue drinking alcohol, then he should only do so on the upper deck.
- Pistols, sabers and other weapons must be kept clean and ready.
- Women are not allowed to be on the ship. Anyone who brings a woman to the ship will be executed.
- Anyone who leaves the ship during the battle will be executed or landed on an uninhabited island.
- Fights on the ship are prohibited, duels with swords or pistols can only take place on the shore.
- If someone decides to leave the team, then he must pay a ransom at the rate of one thousand doubloons for each of the remaining ones.
- Each of the team members must obey the requirements of this agreement. Everyone has the right to his own share of the total spoils. The captain and the quartermaster receive a double share. The boatswain, the gunner and the owner of the ship receive one and a half shares, the assistant, the carpenter and the rest of the officers receive a share and a quarter.
- If any of the team shows cowardice, tries to hide part of the common loot from others, or tries to escape, the team must land the culprit on an uninhabited island with a bottle of gunpowder, a bottle of rum, a bottle of fresh water and a loaded pistol.
- If any of the team is convicted of theft or foul play, he must be landed on an uninhabited island with only a loaded pistol.
- If a man, sailor or pirate is found on a desert island, he must sign this agreement, but only with the consent of the entire crew and the captain.
- If one of the team hits the other, then the offender is punished with 40 blows with rods.
- Whoever fires a pistol, smokes a pipe or lights a candle at the ship's gunpowder stocks, is punished with 40 blows of the rods.
- Anyone who does not keep weapons clean or does not carry out the assigned ship work, is deprived of his share of the total loot, even if it is the captain himself.
- If any of the team loses an arm up to the elbow, they are paid 400 ducats compensation. If the arm is not up to the shoulder, the compensation is doubled. If a leg up to the knee is lost, 400 ducats are paid out of the total loot, if the leg is completely cut off, the amount is doubled.
- If anyone tries to take possession of a woman without her consent, he will be sentenced to death.
Divide the loot
Depending on the situation, the division of the booty could take place in different proportions. If the captain acted under the guise of a letter of marque, he was obliged to pay a commission to the state in the amount of 10 to 90% of the production, for example, according to the rules of Queen Elizabeth, the production was divided at the rate of 50/50. All the rest of the loot was divided into parts between the team members. Each part was called a share. The captain was usually entitled to two shares, the most important members of the crew: the quartermaster - 1 3/4, the rest of the officers (ship owner, carpenter, boatswain, gunner) - 1 1/4 share. The rest of the team members received a whole share, newcomers - 1/4. Members of the boarding team received an additional 1/4 share as a bonus. This division of the booty concerned goods and gold, while the weapon belonged to the one who took possession of it in battle and was not subject to redistribution.