Above painting: Louis Jean Francois - Mars and Venus an Allegory of Peace
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Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Pirates Ships - What’s in a Name?

Pirates were pretty good at brand recognition. No, really. Consider the following. Pirates didn’t attack prey haphazardly. Despite popular belief instilled by books and movies, pirates would rather use scare tactics and nasty reputations than engage in a sea battle. Battles used valuable resources such as
ammunition. Crewmen could be hurt or killed. The prize could be damaged or sunk, defeating the purpose of plundering goods, stealing treasure, or seizing the ship for their own. So when they sailed upon a quarry, it was preferred the victim surrender before no quarter was given.

The first indication a pirate ship was closing in would be their colors. The flags pirates hoisted were recognizable, often red or black and depicting skulls, bones, blood, swords, and even an hourglass, a warning to their prey time was running out. When a Jolly Roger snapped in the wind, there was no question the ship claimed no country and that danger was on the horizon.

It would only make sense that pirates would also use branding with the names they chose for their ships.

Sam Bellamy's flagship

While some pirates never bothered with renaming the ships they seized, most christened their newly acquired vessels with names that held meaning. Many ships were named according to their profession—adventure, fancy, ranger, fortune. Some monikers were meant to boost fear—revenge, delivery, rover, triumph. Others made political statements. It has been suggested that Edward Teach (1680-1718), famously known as Blackbeard, was a Jacobite sympathizer and had named his flagship Queen Anne’s Revenge in support of England’s deposed Queen Anne.

Here is a list of other notable pirates and the ships they captained.

  • Jeanne de Clisson (1300-1359) - The Black Fleet, Revenge
  • Sir Francis Drake (1540-1596) - Golden Hind
  • Peter Easton (1570-1620) - Happy Adventure
  • Henry Morgan (1635-1688) - Satisfaction
  • William Kidd (1645-1701) - Adventure Galley, Adventure Prize
  • Thomas Tew (1649-1695) - Amity
  • Laurens DeGraaf (1653-1704), Anne Dieu-Le-Veut (1661-1710) - Tigre, Francesca, Fortune renamed Neptune
  • Henry Avery (1659-1699) - Fancy
  • Charles Vane (1680-1721) - Lark, Ranger
  • Benjamin Hornigold (1680-1719) - Ranger
  • Richard Worley (?-1718) - New York’s Revenge

    The Golden Hind (replica)
  • William Moody (?-1719) - Rising Sun
  • Robert Sample (?-1719) - Flying King
  • Bartholomew Roberts aka Black Bart (1682-1722) - Royal Rover, Fortune, Good Fortune, Great Ranger, Little Ranger
  • Edward England (1685-1721) - Royal James, Fancy, Ranger
  • Jack Rackham aka Calico Jack (1682-1720), Mary Read(1685-1721), Anne Bonny (1697-possibly 1782) - William
  • Stede Bonnet (1688-1718) - Revenge renamed Royal James
  • Sam Bellamy aka Black Sam (1689-1717) - Whydah Galley
  • George Lowther (?-1723) - Delivery
  • Christopher Condent (1690s-1770) - The Flying Dragon
  • Edward “Ned” Low (1690-1724) - Rebecca, Fancy, Rose Pink, Merry Christmas
  • John Gow (1695-1725) - Fortune
  • Ching Shih (1775-1844) - a whole fleet called the Red Flag Fleet
  • Jean Lafitte (1780-1823) - Dorada 
It’s interesting to note how many ships possessed the same or similar names. Is that because of brand recognition? Possibly. No sense in changing what works. Huzzah! 

About the Author                                                

Jennifer is the award-winning author of the Romancing the Pirate series. Visit her at www.jbrayweber.com or join her mailing list for sneak peeks, excerpts, and giveaways.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Water of Life aka Whisky by Madeline Martin

Welcome to History Undressed my good friend and fellow author, Madeline Martin!

One of the fun things about writing historical romance is all the interesting things we learn in our research. While writing the Earl of Benton, I decided to have Alistair Johnstone be a former smuggler of whisky prior to accepting his English earldom.
Scotch whisky, commonly referred to as “uisge beatha” literally translates to “water of life”. Not being a whisky drinker myself, I’d have to disagree because it kind of tastes like straight rubbing alcohol to my ignorant palate.

But I digress. Whisky was distilled for centuries without issue until England and Scotland were crammed together under the same crown and a tax was placed upon malt (an integral ingredient in whisky). While some distilleries legally paid the fees associated with the malt tax to ensure their goods were operating on the right side of the law, many, many more operated illegally.
In fact, so many were in operation that at night, a trail of donkeys could be seen lugging barrels behind them to sell in other locations. Excise men were put to task by the English to catch these thieves and  see them brought to justice, though many of their run ins ended up in bloody shoot outs.

As time went on and the excise men became more abundant, the whisky smugglers got creative. Some built casks to look like a man sitting behind the cart driver with a head fashioned from leather – completely undetectable in the darkness. And still others had steel casks made that would fit over a woman’s shoulders, the round part of the barrel easily giving her the appearance of being with child. Ironically the immense weight of the 2 gallons it held gave the women a rather stiff/waddling gait that made the rouse  entirely believable.
In the Earl of Benton, I got a little creative with what one might do when being tasked with having to smuggle twenty gallons over the Scottish border and into England. It was fun figuring out how to make it work, especially when his lady companion couldn’t know!
In 1823, the distillation of whisky was fully legalized and only required the payment of a mere ten pounds. This was such a miniscule amount that whisky running became almost nothing and the excise men were no longer needed.


Alistair Johnstone’s days of running whisky come to an abrupt halt when he inherits an earldom. After years of living in Scotland and denying his English heritage, he now must return despite his mother’s bitter contempt and his own lack of desire. When his mother’s attempt to run whisky goes awry, Alistair is forced to step in and save her by doing one last whisky run – however, if he’s caught, he will face a traitor’s death.

Emma Thorne’s uncle is trying to kill her and so far has failed, thank goodness. But with only one month until she reaches her majority, inherits her fortune and is released from his guardianship, she knows she is not safe. Emma escapes to a nearby estate where she stumbles upon a house party being held by the Wicked Earls’ Club and finds herself at the mercy of the most extraordinary earl. One who could save her or see her condemned.

When innocent lies become reality and danger follows them every step of the way, could love be the answer to both their problems, or will their passions be their undoing?


Amazon: http://hyperurl.co/eobamz
Nook: http://hyperurl.co/eobnk
iBooks: http://hyperurl.co/eobib
Kobo: http://hyperurl.co/eobkobo
Print: http://hyperurl.co/eobprint


Madeline Martin is a USA TODAY Bestselling author of Scottish set historical romance novels. She lives a glitter-filled life in Jacksonville, Florida with her two daughters (known collectively as the minions) and a man so wonderful he's been dubbed Mr. Awesome. All shenanigans are detailed regularly on Twitter and on Facebook.

Madeline loves animals in sweaters, cat videos, and working out (to support her love of wine and Nutella). As she is unable to have pets herself due to allergies, she has acquired a plastic Halloween skeleton named Nick and a small robot named Meccano - both of whom are dressed up regularly by the minions.

She loves connecting with her readers, so feel free to follow her on any one of her social media platforms, or send her a message :) 


FB page: https://www.facebook.com/MadelineMartinAuthor/
Twitter: @MadelineMMartin
Sign up for her newsletter: http://eepurl.com/biji1j 
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Madeline-Martin/e/B00R8OGFN2/ 

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Hardtack – Vital Vittles of the Sea

Pirates spent long weeks, months, and even years at sea. Not only was the ship outfitted with plenty of rope and canvas, arms and gunpowder, carpentry tools and wood, navigational equipment, and cooking utensils, but the essential stores of food and drink. The business of feeding the ship’s crew was a serious one. Oftentimes, the length of the voyage was governed by how much food and drink could be carried on board. There would be no crossing an ocean if there was only enough room for two weeks of provisions. All food and drink were carefully rationed. Anyone caught with more than their fair share faced punishment. Yup, serious business.

When a ship set sail, it was usually well-stocked with live hens for eggs and sometimes goats for milk. There was also items such as salted pork, beef, and fish, rounds of cheese, dried potatoes, corn, vinegary cabbage, spices, ale and more. Aye, pirates ate like kings. Better than their sailor counterparts in the navies. But the fresh or perishable food did not last long. Even water went bad. The humid, dank conditions hastened spoiling and bred insects. Feasts could turn into famine. Malnutrition, disease, and starvation were very real concerns for seafarers. Ports of call weren’t always close and ships to plunder not always on the horizon. But when a ship was spotted, they were often just as prized for their food supply as a Spanish galleon sailing low from treasure. Have you ever met a hangry pirate? *shivers*

One staple found on a pirate ship was sea biscuits. Sea biscuits, more commonly known as hardtack (but also called pilot bread, ship biscuit, sheet iron, molar breakers, among other endearments), are hard, dry, heavy, crackers that were inexpensive to make, filled the stomach, and provided some measure of sustenance. To make them more edible, they were dipped in ale, coffee, soups, water, or fried in animal fat when possible. These bricks, when kept dry, can last years. YEARS! This was why they were a must-have for sea voyages, during military warfare, and lengthy land migrations. Never mind those weevils. Given the storage, they eventually found their way into the hard tack. Pirates just knocked the biscuit on a solid surface and waited for the bugs to crawl out before eating. Ewww. But it was either that or starve.

Knowing that the biscuit was such a big part of a pirate’s diet, I just had to try some for myself. There are many slightly varying recipes but they all have the same basics—flour, salt, and water. Below is the recipe I used. With pictures! Huzzah! 

Hard Tack


Rolling pin
Cookie sheet
Something to make holes with – skewer, nail, dowel


2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
¾ cup water


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix flour and salt together.
Add water and knead into dough. Add more water or flour as needed to get the right consistency.


Use a rolling pin to flatten and shape in a ½ thick square.
Cut into 9 smaller squares.

Use any implement to poke holes into squares to allow even baking.
Bake for 30 minutes. Be careful not to burn them.

As I’m making these things, I’m reminded of the doughy Christmas ornaments we used to make as kids. Now I’m certain these things will taste gross. But you know what? It wasn’t bad at all. The hardtack tasted like, well, unleavened bread dough. It would taste even better dipped in soup or drizzled with honey.

So why would you want to make hardtack today? To impress your pirate friends, of course. Never hurts to be prepared for an apocalypse, either.


About the Author                                                

Jennifer is the award-winning author of the Romancing the Pirate series. Visit her at www.jbrayweber.com or join her mailing list for sneak peeks, excerpts, and giveaways.