The most badass pirate of all time was Ching Shih, a Chinese prostitute who commanded over 1,800 ships and up to 200,000 pirates.
Born in 1775, Ching was a prostitute working in a brothel in the city of Guangzhou. In 1801, she was captured by Pirates and in the same year, she married Cheng I, a notorious and very successful pirate of the era. Cheng I was a dominant figure and he was the man responsible for creating one of the most powerful fleets in all China by uniting all the competing Cantonese pirate fleets.
Six years after their marriage, in 1807, Ched I died. And that’s when Ching managed to manoeuvre her way into the leadership position. She built on the coalition that was created by her husband and in a few years, she created the most powerful pirate fleet ever to sail on the seas of China with over 1,800 ships and more than 200,000 pirates under her commandment. (the article continues after the ad)
Ching was a ruthless leader that kept her fleet united by issuing several code of laws that punished those who didn’t obey. For example, one law states that “anyone giving orders that did not come down from her or disobeying those of a superior was beheaded on the spot”.
Her fleet robbed towns, markets, and villages all over China and established hegemony over many coastal villages up until 1810. In 1810, in an effort to get pirates off the sea, the Chinese government offered amnesty to all pirates. Ching Shih was one of the first to accept it, thus ending her pirate career.
She opened a gambling house and died in 1844, 66 years old.