Fierce •

Cheng I Sao: The Most Successful Pirate in History


Blackbeard and Jack Sparrow can’t hold a candle to Cheng I Sao. Ferocious and ambitious, the most successful pirate in the South China Sea innovated the piracy business model, and inspired fear around the world even as she established strict rules about the treatment of women on her ships. The Chinese government enlisted foreign powers to take Cheng I Sao, a former prostitute, down,, but she had other plans. Afterwards, we'll be talking to Tracy Edwards, a sailor who fought her way into the man's world of racing to skipper the first all-female crew to race around the world.   Main Sources: Pirate Women: The Princesses, Prostitutes, and Privateers who Ruled the Seven Seas by Laura Sook Duncombe And the article, ‘One Woman's Rise to Power: Cheng I's Wife and the Pirates’ by Dian Murray, published by Berghahn Books in the academic journal ‘Historical Reflections’ in 1981 Learn more about your ad-choices at
Read more