Vol. 10 (2021): Early Modern Crime Literature: Ideology, Emotions and Social Norms
Part Two - Case Studies

Robbers of the Sea: Piracy in Proclamations and Pamphlets, 1558-1675

Hayley Cotter
University of Massachusetts Amherst
Published March 15, 2021
  • Piracy,
  • Popular Print,
  • Royal Proclamations and Royal Authority Maritime Law
How to Cite
Cotter, H. (2021). Robbers of the Sea: Piracy in Proclamations and Pamphlets, 1558-1675. Journal of Early Modern Studies, 10. https://doi.org/10.13128/jems-2279-7149-12541


The article considers two printed sources that informed English readers about the early modern crime of piracy: the royal proclamation and the pamphlet. It contends that proclamations on piracy have been an overlooked genre among scholars theorizing maritime crime, and that reading a pamphlet on piracy was an experience mediated by intimate knowledge of royal proclamations: these pamphlets, in turn, capitalize on this knowledge within their pages. It does not so much consider piracy itself, but rather mediates the effects of obtaining information about the crime through these two disparate, although complementary, mediums.