Pirates and prostitutes are like cheese and wine: They both stink, but they go together. Often.

Pirates frequently solicited the services of prostitutes whenever they hit dry land. Many women turned to prostitution just to make a living, as prostitutes were usually paid well for their services. However, the life of a prostitute was not glamorous. In fact, it was often dirty and dangerous.

Prostitutes were at high risk for bactierial infections and STDs in the 1700s due to unsanitary hygiene practices, unsafe sex, and unsafe sex with multiple partners. Syphilis had no cure in the 1700s, and many treatments for infections were barbaric, like blood-letting and leeches. Many prostitutes died from these diseases at early ages.

Prostitutes often worked in brothels, what we now call whore-houses. The women were paid to perform sexual services for anyone who walked through the door. Brothels had been around since the first one was built by the Greeks in the 5th century. In the early 1700s, brothels were popular in London, Portugal, and several other countries. Brothels were more popular in the late 1700s and 1800s. However, the idea should be obvious: People have been paying for sex for centuries.

Brothels could often house 23 prostitutes at a time. Most brothels were owned and operated by older prostitutes that weren’t young and youthful anymore. They would take care of the women who lived there by feeding them meals, giving them a place to sleep, and sometimes paying them. However, these prostitutes often were working for hours at a time, with multiple partners. Imagine how exhausted she’d be and how sore her lady parts would feel! That’s a lot of sex just to be alive.

Pirates in particular would go weeks to months without the soft touch of a woman, and they typically had lots of money from raids to spend. So they would flock to the brothels, get their fill, and head back out to the ocean.

Some prostitutes in history became pirates themselves, like Ching Shih in 1775. There are other examples of female pirates in history, like Anne Bonny, but many female pirates are unknown because they often dressed like and pretended to be men. They likely died with many thinking they were male.

Piracy and prostitution have both been around for centuries, and both professions were often dirty, dangerous, and deadly. Aren’t we lucky we live in a modern world?

Want more pirate content? Check out my related posts here or read my series The Interdimensional Pirate: Destined for the High Seas on Kindle Vella!

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