Most stories you hear involving pirates often depict men who sailed the seas and committed crimes on boats. However, you rarely hear stories of some of the female pirates that once existed.
Ching Shih is one of the most famous pirates in history and has a reputation for being quite fearsome. Interestingly, she was a woman.
Ching Shih lived during China’s Qing Dynasty. She was born in 1775 and grew up in poverty, eventually having to work in a brothel.
In 1801, when she was 26-years-old, she married the famous pirate Zheng Yi, who had an impressive pirate fleet.
After marrying, Ching Shih and Zheng Yi operated as a husband-and-wife team of pirates. She embraced the lifestyle, and they commanded his fleet together. By 1806, they had the largest pirate fleet, which was named the Red Flag Fleet.
Ching Shih helped establish important rules for the Red Flag Fleet, some of the biggest involving respecting women on board their 1,800 ships.
If anyone took advantage of female captives or if any married people were unfaithful, they would be executed.
When Zheng Yi died in 1807, she married his adopted son, Cheung Po Tsai, who was due to inherit his father’s power.
Once they were married, she made it so that she took control of the Red Flag Fleet and set a strict code of conduct.