From the 18th century onwards, the universe of piracy ceased to be a world of cruel and bloodthirsty villains and became a chiaroscuro thanks to the work of Captain Charles Johnson " A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the most notorious Pyrates ", In Spanish" General history of the robberies and murders of the most famous pirates ". In this two-volume work, published in 1724, the author narrates life in a very embellished way of the most famous pirates known. In the second volume, more fanciful than the first, we find Captain Misson, the Pirate who could inspire the French Revolution .
Historians believe that Captain Charles Johnson never existed and that the name was a pseudonym of Daniel Defoe, the author of "Robison Crusoe" or its publisher Nathaniel Mist. In the second volume is hidden the history of Libertalia, the utopian pirate nation created with libertarian and egalitarian ideals of which we speak to you in Supercurioso and that is not known for sure if it existed. Its founder was Captain Misson and the account that is made of it in "A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the most notorious Pyrates" could give the French revolutionaries the bases for their doctrine based on Freedom, Equality and Fraternity.
El Capitan Misson, Libertarian and the French Revolution
The Captain Misson was originally from the Provence and he was born into a noble family sometime in the seventeenth century. Its exact name is unknown, although it is believed that it could be Olivier, Jaques or Maximilien. Following the orders of his father, the young Misson studied logic and mathematics, but at the end of his studies he asked his father for permission to follow his wishes and go to sea. The father helped him to enter the service of the French Navy by serving in the warship "Victoire".
The Victoire docked in the port of Rome and there Misson met a priest named Caraccioli who was passionate about the work of Tomás Moro "Utopia". Among them was born a great friendship, to the point that Caraccioli hung up his habits and enrolled in the Victoire, where he began to indoctrinate the crew with his ideas about a more just and free society. When the captain of the Victoire died in combat, the ex-monk convinced Misson to speak to the men and they chose him Captain of the ship. They changed the flag for one with the motto "For God and for Freedom" and they dedicated themselves to piracy. Their methods were very different from the classic pirates as they avoided unnecessary bloodshed, freed slaves from ships and even left enough food on the ship so that the crew could reach port. In the Victoire they constituted a maritime republic with equal laws, without distinction of races and in which everything was shared and put to a vote. The pirates were against everything that was the backbone of the authoritarian society of their time and especially against the monarchy, the slavery and the wealth of a few and their power.
Finally, they reached the coasts of Madagascar where the Captain Misson he founded the pirate nation called Libertalia. There they were joined by a pirate named Thomas Tew, an old acquaintance of the British navy, with his crew. According to Johnson's book, the laws that prevailed in it were a form of primitive socialism supported by a representative democracy. In Libertalia, every man had a vote, and his own Captain Misson , according to the book, said: "The trade of other ethnic groups can not be pleasant in the eyes of divine justice, since no man has the right to enslave his neighbor." Misson was looking for a society without slavery, where all men were equal and their opinions respected. They shared everything they had and also the booties they got were in common place. The land belonged to the one who worked it while he took care of it. They were organized into groups of ten pirates who elected a representative to promulgate laws and govern Libertalia. It was agreed that Misson's successors would be elected every three years by vote. Captain Misson proclaimed: "Our cause is a noble, courageous, just and clear cause: it is the cause of freedom".
Libertalia lasted 25 years, Malagasy natives attacked the pirates killing Caraccioli and almost the entire population. The Captain Misson he managed to flee with 45 survivors and part of the booty, but he died when his ship was shipwrecked near the Cape. The only one who was alive, because he was on board, was Captain Tew, who apparently, according to the book "General history of the robberies and murders of the most famous pirates", arrived in France with the manuscripts that explained the History of Libertalia and Captain Misson . The press of the time reportedly spread the stories of the utopian pirate nation and it is believed that their ideals could inspire part of those who moved the French revolutionaries.
Whether or not there was Captain Misson , its history and its attempt to create a just, egalitarian, democratic and free society, circulated around Europe from the publication in 1724 of the book of the supposed Captain Jonhson, printing these revolutionary ideas in the population. As he Captain Misson as his crew were driven by the revolutionary ideals of freedom, equality and fraternity.
What do you think of the Captain Misson ? Do you think he could exist or is he simply a literary figure with whom Daniel Defoe wanted to capture his utopian ideas about a just and free world? If you want to know more curiosities about pirates, we invite you to read the post: Why did the pirates wear earrings?