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The pirate who lived to tell the tale of his execution.

In 1684, Andrew Ranson was found guilty of leading a band of pirates on a planned attack on St. Augustine and sentenced to death by garrote. But when the executioner was applying the final twists to the rope around Ranson's neck to choke him to death, the rope broke and the prisoner fell to the ground. The town's friar rushed to the gallows and discovered the pirate was still alive.

The friars believed that Ranson's near-death experience was a miracle and refused the governor's demand to execute Ranson on grounds of ecclesiastical immunity. Instead, Ranson was transferred from the convent to the Castillo de San Marcos, where he helped in its construction. And when the English from South Carolina captured St. Augustine and laid siege to the Castillo, Ranson helped the Spanish repel the attack and was instrumental as an interpreter during the interrogation of captured English soldiers. When the siege was lifted, so was Ranson's prisoner status.

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Did you know?

  • Pirates thought that having women on board their ship was bad luck.  It's why pirate femmes like Mary Read initially lived a life of piracy as men!

  • Most pirates stole their ships because they couldn't afford them.  Once they'd capture a ship, they'd convert it for pirate life by making more room for sailor living quarters and strengthening the decks to hold heavy cannons.

  • The difference between a pirate and a privateer is that privateers are sanctioned by respective governments and they don't attack ships from their own country. Pirates harass anyone passing by.

  • A galleon ship was armed to the teeth. It typically carried 74 guns, 36 of which were mounted on either side of the ship. The two guns were mounted aft.

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