Pirate News: Cheng I Sao

chengisaoCNN has an article about Chinese pirate Cheng I Sao, a former prostitute who controled a pirate empire of more than 1,500 ships and 80,000 sailors in the South China Sea. She came into the role in 1801 when her husband, Cheng, married her. In 1807, when Cheng passed away, Cheng I Sao (which means “wife of Cheng”) made Chang Pao, Cheng’s second in command, the battle commander, focusing on business, strategy, and controlling the pirate horde with a complex and brutal series of laws. (A lot of beheadings were involved). Interestingly, Cheng I Sao introduced a series of laws about female captives — ugly ones were send back to shore, while attractive ones got auctioned off to the crew.

After numerous attempts by Portugese and British bounty hunters and the Chinese navy to bring Cheng I Sao down, the Chinese offered her universal pirate amnesty in return for putting down her cutlass. She took it, retired with her new husband Chang Pao (doh!), opened a casino, and lived for another 34 years.

Image from Wikipedia.

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