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Treasure was an important part of the history surrounding pirates. According to Pirate Lore, pirates often hid their stolen fortunes in remote places, intending to return for them later, often with the use of treasure maps. Some may find buried treasure, either finding it by accident or having a townsperson may reveal where to look.
Many mysterious treasures could be found within the untamed islands of the Caribbean, discoveries that enchant the eye of any adventurer. Chests of riches were hidden all over the Caribbean for pirates to hunt for. Most quests would reward with a treasure of some sort: gold, jewels, trinkets, or even locations that couldn't be found. Advancing through these pursuits of unique treasures could lead to finding a series of elusive items, often held by deadly foes or cast upon with an evil curse.
Around 1300 BC, the Kushites from the city of Kerma abandoned their homes and traveled to the West, taking with them their entire treasure. When they reached the Atlantic, they found and inhabited an island which they also named Kerma. Soon, they built the city named Zerzura, and hid the treasure inside the labyrinth beneath the temple dedicated to their god, Apedemak. The most important part of the treasure was the great green stone, full of magical power, that soon became known as the Heart of Zerzura. Centuries later, the legend about the treasure of Zerzura would be recorded in Capt. J. Ward's book, My Lyfe Amonge the Pyrates.
Age of Discovery
At some point during his search for the Fountain of Youth, the Spanish conquistador Juan Ponce de León managed to assemble a fortune in gold, silver, jewels, and pearls. He kept his treasure in the captain's quarters of his ship, the Santiago, along with fine furnishings and other priceless artifacts. One of the treasure chests of the wrecked Santiago held the most valuable prize in Ponce de León's coffers: the silver Chalices of Cartagena. However, in 1523, the Santiago disappeared, along with its captain and his resplendent treasures. Though the contents of the room would not be discovered until nearly two centuries later, where the Santiago sat atop of rocks on the edge of a cliff. By that time, any movement or attempt to grab a piece of treasure would overbalance the ship.
At some point during his operations against the Spanish in the Caribbean, the notorious English privateer Francis Drake pillaged a huge pile of gold and silver. Among the treasure were two magical stones, one purple that protects from curses, and the other white that brings fortune and eternal glory. Though he was obliged to give at least part of his booty to the English crown, Drake decided to keep this entire treasure for himself. When he discovered Isla Cueva, a rocky island in the Caribbean Sea, he decided to hide the treasure there. Drake's men transported the treasure to the grotto deep inside the island, and put several traps on the way to it. However, Drake's First Mate Sam Johnson, greedy and thirsting for power, attempted to betray Drake so he could take his place and keep the treasure for himself. But Johnson's attempt failed, and he ended up dead and beheaded. His corpse was left to rot in the treasure cavern, but Drake's men took Johnson's head with them. For more than a century, Drake's treasure would remain untouched, along with Johnson's headless skeleton.
Age of Piracy
During the Age of Piracy, many pirates collected their loot and kept it in safe places, most of which were located on the untamed islands of the Caribbean. Some hide treasure on tropical or deserted islands, while others hunt for them in quests or perilous adventures. In pursuing unique treasures, these quests would reward adventurers with something: silver, gold, mythical weapons, trinkets collected during the journey. Treasure hunts usually lead to the need to find any series of elusive items, often held by deadly foes. All rewards were not what they appear, as the Caribbean was full of mystery, danger, and evil curses.
At some point during the early 18th century, the crew of the pirate ship Royal Fortune sailed across the Seven Seas, capturing and pillaging numerous merchant ships. Soon, the holds of the Royal Fortune were filled with treasure, but the greedy pirates always wanted more and more gold. So, when they heard the tale about the cursed treasure that was hidden in Dead Man's Cove on Isla Tesoro, they sailed for the Spanish Main to find it. When the Royal Fortune approached the island, she slammed into the rocks, tossed there by the great storm. Only a few pirates survived the storm, but they managed to find the treasure. Regardless of whether the treasure was cursed or not, the greedy pirates immediately started fighting each other, each of them wanting to keep the entire treasure for himself. Soon, they were all dead, and their skeletal remains remained in the cavern to guard the treasure forever.
There were legends about Isla Esquelética that said Stone-Eyed Sam kept his treasure in a secret chamber beneath his bed. That treasure was found decades after his death by the young adventurer Jack Sparrow and his crew, though they were able to take only one treasure chest. Later, Jack would try and find a treasure more valuable than gold and jewels, the fabled Trident of Poseidon. The Trident was also pursued by his old crew, now accompanied by Captain Laura Smith and her first mate Mr. Reece.
In the early 1730s, Jack Sparrow, now an officer of the East India Trading Company in command of the merchant ship Wicked Wench, was ordered by Cutler Beckett, the Company's director for West Africa, to find the legendary island of Kerma, and its treasure-filled labyrinth. Though Jack found the island, he took only a small part of the treasure, because he developed feelings for the island's princess, Amenirdis. Later, Jack refused to give the island's bearings to Beckett, an act which cost him his ship, and his life, though both he and his ship returned to the world of the living thanks to Davy Jones, the supernatural lord of the underwater realms.
A few months after the Wicked Wench was rechristened the Black Pearl, Jack became a notorious Pirate Lord. With a new crew assembled on the pirate island of Tortuga, he led an attack on the Spanish galleon that was carrying Princess Carolina to the man she was supposed to marry against her will. However, the real reason why Jack wanted to attack the ship was the treasure which the ship also carried. In the end, the attack was successful and the pirates took the treasure and liberated the princess.
Two years later, Jack Sparrow had intended to find the cursed treasure of Isla de Muerta. Three days into the voyage, his First Mate Hector Barbossa tricked the bearings to the island out of Jack Sparrow. After raising a mutiny against Jack, which led to him being marooned on Rumrunner's Isle, Captain Barbossa led Jack's former crew in finding the treasure and spent it all. Days after being marooned, Jack was got off the island with the help of a group of Rumrunners and transported to Port Royal. With the help of the local Tavern Keeper, he was able to steal some gold and find some treasure in the graveyard. He used that gold to buy himself a sloop and continue with piracy.
Soon, after falling under its terrible curse, Barbossa's crew began a quest to restore all 882 pieces of Aztec Gold. But the cursed pirates didn't just bring Aztec Gold to Isla de Muerta, they heaped up all the plunder in the cave. Until the curse was lifted, wealth was worthless to them, for nothing they buy brought them pleasure. But not everything in the cave was valuable, as Pintel and Ragetti mistakenly bring a trunk of women's clothing. Packed in chests and heaped in messy piles, treasure filled the caves: precious jewels are strewn across the ground; pearl string once hung around the neck of a princess of Bavaria; amethyst centerpiece of brooch was big as a pigeon's eye. The treasure on Isla de Muerta included huge quantities of gold and silver bars and coins, which came from raids on Spanish ships heading back to Seville from the country's colonies in Mexico and Peru. But some of the most valuable pieces are jewelry stolen from wealthy passengers on ships the Black Pearl attacked.
During the decades of piracy on the high seas, the infamous pirate Blackbeard assembled a treasure worth a fortune. Though he was more interested in Dark Magic than gold, he used his riches wisely. When he entrusted his newborn daughter Angelica to the nuns in a Spanish convent, he payed them very well for Angelica's care. Though his captain's cabin on the Queen Anne's Revenge was full of magical paraphernalia, he also kept several treasure chests close at hand.
Some time after his escape from Port Royal, Jack Sparrow ended up on the Isle of Lusee, a place where the cruel governor treated the colonists as if he owned them, imprisoning the innocents and confiscating their treasure. Jack and his associate Will Turner convinced the people of the island to organize a revolution and overthrow the governor. The people of the island, led by Jack and Will, stormed the governor's fort and Jack easily captured him, taking the keys of the treasury. However, when he and Will entered the treasury, Jack revealed that his plan was to steal the treasure for himself, not to give it to its rightful owners. However, Will convinced Jack not to steal the treasure, and because the people of the island considered him their hero, they gave him the largest share of the treasure.
Later, Jack Sparrow found and restored the skull of Sam Johnson to life. However, at the same time, Joshamee Gibbs was turned to stone, and the talking skull promised to lead Jack to Drake's treasure and magical stones that could lift the curse. On Isla Cueva, when the pirates found Drake's treasure, Johnson's skull was reunited with the rest of the skeleton, and the undead pirate attempted to kill Jack. Jack was able to defeat his opponent, and he told his men to take as much treasure as they could carry. But because of Johnson's treachery the cave started collapsing, and Jack was barely able to escape with the magical stone that would restore Gibbs to life.
Around the same time, a giant manta ray haunted the waters of the Caribbean. The monster wasn't hostile toward the humans, but it was always bad-tempered because of the sea urchins - the undead parasites that lived on the beast's back and tormented it. Swimming around the Caribbean, the angry beast would pursue unlucky ships, whose crews would believe that the beast's giant wings were actually sails of the two long-lost cursed Spanish ships, the San Pablo and the San Miguel. The pursued ships would then run aground on a nearby island and their cargoes of treasure would be spilled on the beach. When during one such pursuit, Jack Sparrow fell on the beast's back and forced the parasites to leave the manta ray alone, the grateful monster towed his ship, the Black Pearl, toward the island, where Jack and his crew discovered several treasure chests.
After his resurrection at the hands of Tia Dalma, Hector Barbossa could be found haunting the island known as Devil's Anvil. His place of residence was a grotto filled with gold, jewels and portraits of Governor Weatherby Swann. The origin of this treasure is shrouded in mystery, and only Barbossa might know where this fabulous wealth came from.
Behind the scenes
- "Pipe the lubber aloft, matey... Speak up ya bilge rat. Where be the treasure?"
- ―Pirate Captain
- In English fiction there are three well known stories that helped popularize the myth of buried pirate treasure: "The Gold-Bug" by Edgar Allan Poe, "Wolfert Webber" by Washington Irving and Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. When he read the script for Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, actor Johnny Depp found the script quirky; one of the reasons being that rather than trying to find treasure, the crew of the Black Pearl were trying to return it in order to lift their curse.
- In Walt Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean, pirates invade Puerto Dorado in search of the town's treasure. However, until the 2006 revamp, in which Jack Sparrow finds the treasure, the pirates were unable to find it.
- In Pirates of the Caribbean Online, there are several quests in which the player must find buried treasure.
- In one of the production drafts of the Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides screenplay, before Jack Sparrow chose "an item of approximately equal weight", Hector Barbossa says "See there, I've learnt my lesson about taking treasure from a place, not knowing what curse might lie upon it." Though Jack ignored this and grabbed for a stack of coins.
- The Magic Kingdom's interactive game A Pirate's Adventure: Treasures of the Seven Seas, guests using a map and magic talisman to help them complete five different pirate raids throughout Adventureland. Their goal in these raids, to help locate different Treasures of the Seven Seas.
- Before the second Pirates film was release, the subtitle was rumored to be "Treasure of the Lost Abyss". Despite it being false, the rumor has persisted for years.
- Pirates of the Caribbean (ride)
- The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow
- A Pirate's Adventure: Treasures of the Seven Seas
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for the Sunken Treasure
- Pirates of the Caribbean (game)
- Jack Sparrow: The Coming Storm
- Jack Sparrow: The Siren Song (Mentioned only)
- Jack Sparrow: The Sword of Cortés (Mentioned only)
- Jack Sparrow: The Age of Bronze (Mentioned only)
- Jack Sparrow: Silver (Mentioned only)
- Jack Sparrow: Dance of the Hours
- The Price of Freedom
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Armada of the Damned
- Legends of the Brethren Court: The Caribbean
- Legends of the Brethren Court: Wild Waters
- Legends of the Brethren Court: Day of the Shadow (Mentioned only)
- Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (video game)
- Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (First appearance)
- Pirates of the Caribbean: The Legend of Jack Sparrow
- Revenge of the Pirates!
- A Revolting Development!
- The Treasure of Shipwreck Island!
- The Black Skull!
- The Sails of Doom!
- Pirates of the Caribbean Online
- The Sleeping Island! (Mentioned only)
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (Mentioned only)
- Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
- Kingdom Hearts II (Non-canonical appearance)
- LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game (Non-canonical appearance)
- Pirates of the Caribbean (film series)
- Pirates of the Caribbean: The Complete Visual Guide
- Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides: The Visual Guide
Notes and references
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 The Price of Freedom
- ↑ Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides: The Visual Guide, p.12-13: "The Spanish"
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 The Black Skull!
- ↑ New Orleans Square - Pirates Of The Caribbean (Ghostly Voices) on SoundCloud - Hear the world's sounds
- ↑ Pirates of the Caribbean (ride)
- ↑ Jack Sparrow: The Coming Storm
- ↑ Jack Sparrow: Poseidon's Peak
- ↑ Legends of the Brethren Court: The Caribbean
- ↑ 10.0 10.1 Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
- ↑ Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (video game)
- ↑ Pirates of the Caribbean: The Complete Visual Guide, p.40-41: "Isla de Muerta"
- ↑ Angelica's backstory from Disney Second Screen
- ↑ A Revolting Development!
- ↑ The Sails of Doom!
- ↑ Pirates of the Caribbean Online
- ↑ The Curse of the Black Pearl Audio Commentary with Director Gore Verbinski and Star Johnny Depp
- ↑ One of the production drafts of the Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides screenplay.
- ↑ On Stranger Tides - SCRIPTS Message Board - Wordplayer.com