The 10 Most Famous Captains in History

The 10 Most Famous Captains in History

What does it take to be a leader of the ships that set out on the high seas? Maybe courage, perseverance, dauntlessness, intelligence or possibly all of them. All for the become the most powerful human being on the deck. Inevitably, most of them also have abandoned themselves to the degenerateness of power.

Surely, going on the history takes a lot of nerves and more. Here is the story of the ones that could make it.

10. Ferdinand Magellan

Before Ferdinand Magellan (c. 1480 – 27 April 1521), the belief that the world was flat was convincing enough. At the times when people were completely girded with dogmatic preconceptions, the only way to break down the prejudices was to prove them with unrepudiated methods. The Spanish expedition to the East Indies from 1519 to 1522, which was organised by Magellan and resulted in the first circumnavigation of the Earth, shattered the belief that the world was flat.

Having studied astronomy and cartography, the legendary explorer captained the first expedition across the Atlantic Ocean to the Strait of Magellan and across the Pacific Ocean. He couldn’t finish the first circumnavigation of Earth himself, because he was slain in a local dispute in the Philippines. However, the journey was completed by Juan Sebastián Elcano after his death.

9. Bartholomew Roberts “Black Bart”

The insurrectionist souls of the dark seas, pirates, are also embedded extensively in maritime history. One of them, Bartholomew Roberts (17 May 1682 – 10 February 1722), was a Welsh pirate who raided ships off the Americas and West Africa between 1719 and 1722. During his lifetime, he captured and looted over 400 ships. Therefore, he was the most intimidating and mighty pirate of the Golden Age of Piracy, a period of time between the 1650s–1730s when piracy was prevalent never so.

His largest flagship was a 40-cannon monstrosity. It was manned by 157 men. The ship could fight out with any British Royal Navy ship of the time He was also known as Black Bart yet he never interiorized that name when he was alive. As a fact in popular culture, Bartholomew Roberts probably is the inspiration behind the Lord Bartholomew character in the Pirates of the Caribbean series


8. Horatio Nelson

A child prodigy on ships, Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson, (29 September 1758 – 21 October 1805), joined the Navy at age 12 and became a captain at age 20.

He was a valorous and tenacious fighter. At the age of 35, he lost one of his eyes in Corsica. Three years later, one of his arms was also chopped n the unsuccessful attempt to conquer Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

He was fatally shot on the first day of the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. However, in the end, his crew won the battle. The Battle of Trafalgar, fought against France and Spain, is one of the greatest achievements of British Navy.

7. John Rackham

John Rackham (December 26, 1682 – November 18, 1720) was an English pirate captain operating in the Bahamas and Cuba during the early 18th century. However, his name conceivably sounds no familiar to you. Usually, he is known broadly by his nickname, Calico Jack. His nickname was derived from the calico clothing that he wore. Noteworthily, he had two female pirates (Mary Read and Anne Bonny) as his crew

The Jolly Roger, the remarkable flag with a skull with two crossed swords waving on the pirate ships, was designed by Calico Jack. Thanks to him, when we visualize anything related to piracy, the very first thing that comes to mind is possibly his flag.

6. William Kidd

William Kidd (c. 1655 – 23 May 1701) was a Scottish sailor who was asked by the King William III of England to become a captain of a powerful ship and capture the French ships as well as the pirates of Madagascar. However, his career as a King’s sailor did not last long.

He soon turned into a pirate himself as he recruited a gang of cutthroats and sailed for Madagascar. In 1668, he won his biggest loot by taking the Quedagh Merchant, a 500-ton Indian ship loaded with gold, silver, satins, muslins, and a wide variety of East Indian merchandise.

Kidd was tried and executed for piracy after returning from a voyage to the Indian Ocean. Even though he is regarded as one of the most well-known pirates of all time, some modern historians (Sir Cornelius Neale Dalton, for example) deem his piratical reputation unjust.

5. Francis Drake

Sir Francis Drake (c. 1540 – 28 January 1596) was a jack of all trades. He was an explorer, sea captain, privateer, naval officer, and politician but also the first English captain to circumnavigate the globe.

Allegedly Drake, landed in the US state with the highest resident population now, California, during his circumnavigation of the world. California was unexplored at the time.

He also heroically fought against the Spanish Armada in 1588.

His life ended where he belonged, on the water. He died of dysentery while anchored off the coast of Portobelo


4. Christopher Columbus

Presumably the most popular yet controversial name in the history of captains, the one and only Christopher Columbus (born sometime between 25 August and 31 October 1451, died 20 May 1506). To some he was a tyrant antagonist and slave master, to some he was an avid explorer.

Genoese navigator completed four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean, opening the way for European exploration and colonization of the Americas. These expeditions were the first European contact with the Caribbean, Central America, and South America.

Even though he is known as the man who discovered America, Columbus always argued that the lands he visited were part of the Asian continent. This refusal is one of the reasons why the American continent was named after the Florentine explorer Amerigo Vespucci, instead of Columbus.

3. Edward Teach “Blackbeard”

Villains have always been popular. Notwithstanding, no other pirate in history left a grisly and terrorful trace like him. Edward Teach (c. 1680 – 22 November 1718), better known as Blackbeard, was one of the most feared and probably the cruellest pirates of all time. His thick, black beard gave him that notable nickname.

The Englishman became a captain on one of the ships he stole and started preying on ships that travel the American coast. In 1717, Blackbeard captured the colossal, 200-ton, French slaving ship La Concorde. He mounted 40 canyons on board it, made it his flagship, and renamed it Queen Anne’s Revenge. With this ship, he ruled the waves of the eastern coast of North America and the Caribbean. He also defeated the famous warship HMS Scarborough and its pirate army of 300 in a sea battle.

Blackbeard was captured in a battle with the British Navy yet to kill that pitiless man was not easy. The myth was that, before he laid down unconsciously, twenty stab wounds and five gunshot wounds were required.


2. Henry Morgan

Sir Henry Morgan (c. 1635 – 25 August 1688) was a famous Welsh buccaneer, known for plundering Spain’s Caribbean colonies during the late 17th century. He was hired by the government to protect British colonial interests in the Caribbean area at all costs.

His years in the Caribbean were full of an ordeal. For twenty years, he raided more than 400 ships -most of them being Spanish- and caused chaos in the cities. Resulting in an arrant reputation, he has been accused of widespread torture and horrific acts.

However, he was a tactical genius in maritime warfare. With more than 30 ships and around 2,000 men, he successfully captured Panama City.

Even though he was arrested in 1672 as a result of his raid in Panama City, King Charles II chose to knight him and release him as a deputy governor of Jamaica. When he passed away, he had three plantations and 129 slaves.

1. James Cook

He is one of the most famous explorers in the world yet his legacy is not only associated with geographic expeditions but also with scientific influences. Captain James Cook (7 November 1728 – 14 February 1779) was a legendary British explorer, navigator, cartographer, and captain in the British Royal Navy

He achieved the first recorded European contact with the eastern coastline of Australia and the Hawaiian Islands, and the first recorded circumnavigation of New Zealand. Mapping of the Pacific, Australia, and New Zealand, thanks to him, changed the Western perceptions of world geography. Before his famous three voyages to the Pacific and Australia, he also had made detailed maps of Newfoundland.

What makes him special was the methods he developed during his voyages by using the limits of surveying, cartography, advanced mathematics, astronomy and navigation.

Cook was attacked and eventually killed by the natives in the Hawaiian Islands, during his attempt to kidnap the Hawaiian chief to reclaim the cutter stolen from one of his ships.

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