Sunday, December 2, 2012

Prostitution, Piracy, and Power

One of the most notorious pirates of the China seas, Ching Shih, ruled with an iron fist. 

If you tried deserting Ching's fleet, your ears were chopped off. Rape of a female prisoner would result in castration or beheading. Any display of cowardice would result in beheading. If you were caught stealing you would lose your head as well.  Seeing a trend here?  Punishment for hiding loot would be flogging, but if you were caught twice, off with your head!

Ching Shih was highly respected pirate in the 19th century, who was so strong that her power threatened the Chinese goverment.

Ching Shih in battle.

Yep. That's right! her.

Ching Shih's early life is unknown, but her initial career was a prostitute. She was then captured by pirates. At this point, many would believe this would be a life ending fate; however, Ching Shih is no ordinary woman. 

Ching Shih was beautiful, intelligent, and conniving. Her beauty and wit won the heart of Zheng Yi, a powerful six fleet captain. With her help, in 1804 Zheng Yi created the Red Flag Fleet and became the most powerful pirate in China. 
After he passed, she fought her way to gain full leadership, leading 1800 ships and more than 80,000 pirates.

From rags to riches.

Ching Shih was undefeated. If anyone resisted Ching Shih or her pirates, their feet would be nailed to the deck and then they were beaten severely.She was stealing and looting everywhere. She began levying taxes from cities for "protection". Her power could not be ignored and the Chinese government was scared.

In the end, Ching Shih was one of the few that were able to succesfully retire from piracy. The Chinese government allowed her to keep all her loot and her men were also protected. She remarried and opened up her own gambling house and her men were able to live comfortably becoming government and military officials
(pretty corrupt!). She died peacefully of old age.

Now that's a life.


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