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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Singer

The World's Greatest Pirate

A colorful tale to distract from today's troubled world...the online newsletter at recently included a story of the world's greatest pirate, a Chinese woman named Ching Shih:

"At the turn of the 19th century, a former prostitute from the brothels of Canton (now Guangdong) married a Pirate commander, named Zheng Yi, under the condition that they would lead their merry band of sea robbers as equals.

But when he died, she became the firm leader, and would eventually build a fleet that could have challenged the Spanish Armada, according to Imperial Twilight: The Opium War and the End of China's Last Golden Age by Stephen R. Platt.

Historical estimates say she commanded 1,800 ships and 80,000 men. At one point, she went to war with the Qing dynasty, who ruled China at the time. Not only did Ching win, but she also captured 63 ships and turned their crew into pirates.

The Qing dynasty would gather support from the British and Portuguese navies as well as Dutch merchant ships. They still could not beat Ching.

Ching was so successful that it became quite clear the Qing government would not be able to challenge her on the high seas. So, the government negotiated a peace treaty that allowed the pirates to keep all of their loot and walk free. A lot of the pirates in Ching’s Armada would actually join the Chinese military.

As for Ching, she would retire from piracy at the age of 35. Talk about being a true ‘40 under 40.’ She died at the age of 69 after running a gambling house in Guangzhou. I guess she was never one to truly leave her roots.

Her story is awesome."

Thank you, Kevin


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