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The traditional “Jolly Roger” of piracy. Piracy is an act of robbery or criminal violence by ship or boat-borne attackers upon another ship or a coastal area, typically with the goal of stealing cargo and other valuable items or properties. Those who engage in acts of piracy are called pirates. Today, pirates armed with automatic weapons and rocket propelled grenades use small motorboats to attack and board ships, a tactic that takes advantage of the small number of crew members on modern cargo vessels and transport ships.
They also use larger vessels, known as “mother ships”, to supply the smaller motorboats. It may be reasonable to assume that piracy has existed for as long as the oceans were plied for commerce. As early as 258 AD, the Gothic-Herulic fleet ravaged towns on the coasts of the Black Sea and Sea of Marmara. The Aegean coast suffered similar attacks a few years later. The most widely known and far-reaching pirates in medieval Europe were the Vikings, seaborne warriors from Scandinavia who raided and looted mainly between the 8th and 12th centuries, during the Viking Age in the Early Middle Ages. Toward the end of the 9th century, Moorish pirate havens were established along the coast of southern France and northern Italy. After the Slavic invasions of the former Roman province of Dalmatia in the 5th and 6th centuries, a tribe called the Narentines revived the old Illyrian piratical habits and often raided the Adriatic Sea starting in the 7th century.
As soon as the Venetian fleet would return to the Adriatic, the Narentines temporarily abandoned their habits again, even signing a Treaty in Venice and baptising their Slavic pagan leader into Christianity. Piracy became endemic in the Baltic sea in the Middle Ages. In 937, Irish pirates sided with the Scots, Vikings, Picts, and Welsh in their invasion of England. The Slavic piracy in the Baltic Sea ended with the Danish conquest of the Rani stronghold of Arkona in 1168. The ushkuiniks were Novgorodian pirates who looted the cities on the Volga and Kama Rivers in the 14th century. The Maniots considered piracy as a legitimate response to the fact that their land was poor and it became their main source of income. Zaporizhian Sich was a pirate republic in Europe from the 16th through to the 18th century.