marmolita:

houndsheart:

snubbingapollo:

So, your queer history lesson for the day:

Everyone’s heard that pirate’s call each other “matey”. What you probably haven’t heard is that the word matey comes from “matelote”.

In the Caribbean this word was used between buccaneers to signify a life partner. Matelotes could inherit from each other, shared space, fought together, could speak for each other when one was incapacitated or absent, and more often than not the relationship was romantic and sexual.

That’s right folks. Pirates had a term for their gay life partners.

In light of this, I present to you a new alternative for significant other and partner. Bring back matelote.

(You can learn more about the practice of matelotage in: The Origins and Role of Same-Sex Relations in Human Societies by James Niell)

Arrr! Matelotage was such a great idea!

In an age when the English Navy ran on “rum, sodomy and the lash,” (as noted in many writings of the time), homosexual relationships were punishable by death.

The result here was that in the English Navy, relationships went underground. Very often, they became forced, often between a superior and a subordinate. When English crews went on the account, becoming pirates, they looked for a way to legitimize relationships of honest affection.
Matelotage [French; meaning ‘seamanship’] , now used as an English word, became a term for a legal marriage between two men.

[…]

In pirate society (and only pirate society) two men could “marry.” They would exchange gold rings, and pledge eternal union. After this, they were expected to share everything.  Plunder and living spaces were obvious, but couples in matelotage were also known to share other property, and even women. If one of the partners was killed in action, pirate captains were careful to make sure that the surviving member received both shares of plunder, as well as any appropriate death benefits.

Simply put, homosexual relationships had been kept under wraps by people in fear for their lives because of draconian laws. Among sailors who had practiced this form of release themselves, it lost its sense of being alien, and so became accepted and legitimized as soon as they (by turning pirate) gained the right to make their own laws. {X}

There’s actually a series of gay pirate romance novels where I first heard about this.

peter-pans-booty-shorts:

oldshrewsburyian:

deadcatwithaflamethrower:

peter-pans-booty-shorts:

So while doing some pirate research for the play I’m writing I stumbled upon one of the most amazing things I’ve ever read. In the 5th century A.D. there was a Scandinavian princess called Alwilda who’s father tried to set her up to marry Alf, the Prince of Denmark. Alwilda wasn’t cool with this so she and some female companions dressed as men, stole a ship, and sailed away. Eventually they met a company of pirates who were in need of a new captain and they were so captivated by her that they elected her as their new leader. Her crew became so infamous that Prince Alf was sent out to stop them. When their ships met he took Alwilda prisoner and she was so impressed by Alf’s skill that she agreed to marry him after all and eventually became the Queen of Denmark.

I stopped caring whether this was factually accurate about halfway through because it’s completely AWESOME.

Medievalist here for triumphant fact-checking: this story is, if not true, at least true according to the history of the Danes (Gesta Danorum) written in the 12th century by Saxo Grammaticus. You can read his account of Alwilda’s story in the original Latin here, or in English translation here. Highlights include:

She exchanged woman’s for man’s attire, and, no longer the most modest of maidens, began the life of a warlike rover. Enrolling in her service many maidens who were of the same mind, she happened to come to a spot where a band of rovers were lamenting the death of their captain, who had been lost in war; they made her their rover captain.

I love the implication that there were lots of Danish maidens just WAITING for the opportunity of a life of piracy…

Reblogging my old post for this A+ addition to it