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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?

  • In 1671, when Henry Morgan sailed from Port Royal, Jamaica to sack and plunder Panama, his fleet consisted of 37 vessel, ranging from 4-gunners to 22-gunners.

  • Captain Kidd received a letter of marquee from King William III to seize any French ships during his search to capture pirates. Instead, he captured an Indianman resulting in the beginning of his pirate career.

  • The cook onboard a pirate ship was usually a disabled pirate who was allowed to stay on the ship if he could make food that didn't kill the pirate crew.

  • In September 1718, following months of successful plundering raids, the pirate crews of Blackbeard and Charles Vane rendezvoused on Ocracoke Island (North Carolina) for a wild, weeklong bacchanal.

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