Did you know the world’s most powerful pirate was a woman? Her name was Zheng Yi Sao, or Madame Ching, who lived in the Qing Dynasty of ancient China and at one point commanded a fleet of about 1800 ships with more than 70000 men, terrifying the Imperial Navy. You can see her on the right, this is one of the very few authentic images of her. But let’s start at the beginning.
She was born on the coast of Southern China and like many women there, she later worked as a prostitute on one of the many swimming brothels. 1801, when she was 26 years old, the already quite powerful pirate captain Zheng Wenxian asked for her hand in marriage and bought her free. At first they went to Vietnam, where the pirate life was a lucrative one. The Zhengs shared every aspects of their lives – yes, the fighting too – life was good.
portrait: found at Ancient Origins
map: That’s Magazine – The Explainer, HK Focus Media Group
movie still: from “Pirates of the Caribbean – At World’s End,” 2007 – Link