• According to a pirate expert,
    Black Sails
    accurately depicts the real-life pirate of Anne Bonny during one of its battle sequences.
  • The series features real-life pirates like Blackbeard, Jack Rackham, and more, and the show is correct in showing Rackham and Bonny sailing together.
  • Black Sails
    presents a gritty, more mature take on pirate life, and another such show should take its place.



A battle sequence from Black Sails gets put under the microscope by a pirate expert, and she finds that it’s fairly accurate. First airing in 2014, Black Sails was a Starz series that serves as a prequel to Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. The show, which concluded in 2017 after four seasons, followed Toby Stephens’ Captain Flint as he and his crew clash against the British Navy and other notorious pirates.

In a recent video for Insider, pirate historian Rebecca Simon analyzes how historically accurate Black Sails is, taking a look at one battle sequence, in particular.

According to Simon, the show actually gets a lot right, including in its depiction of real-world pirate figures who were active during the Golden Age of Piracy. Check out select portions of Simon’s analysis and her grade for the show out of 10 below:

“In this scene we see three historical pirates. We see the female pirate Anne Bonny, we see Jack Rackham, and we see Edward Teach, commonly known as Blackbeard. All three of these pirates did exist, very much so during the Golden Age of Piracy. Anne Bonny and Jack Rackham sailed together. She and Jack Rackham never sailed with Blackbeard.

“We see Anne Bonny and several other pirates go with her into one of these navy ships to kind of start their attack. You kind of did divvy up pirate crews, so those who would stay on their own ship and fight, and then those who would go onto the ship that they were trying to capture in order to fight.

“Anne Bonny probably would have stayed on her own ship, being a woman, but she would have massively participated in the battle. Survivors of attacks and hostages later testified at the trial that Anne Bonny and Mary Read, they fought just as much as the men did, wearing men’s clothing. So we do get a lot of that historical accuracy coming in.

“I’ll give this clip a seven [out of 10].”

It’s Time For Another Show Like Black Sails

There Aren’t Any Other Gritty Pirate Shows

Charles Vane and Blackbeard walk side by side in Black Sails.

Black Sails currently holds an impressive 81% on Rotten Tomatoes, with the audience score a little higher at 83%. It’s a bit of a different story on Metacritic, where the show only holds a 59 out of 100, but the audience score in this case is marked as “generally favorable” at 6.7 out of 10. The show seemingly hit its stride in season 2, with scores on Rotten Tomatoes (see the chart below) becoming more positive after season 1.

Black Sails Season

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Score

Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score













While season 1 is perhaps the show’s weakest, the series does eventually get into some interesting territory in later seasons. Black Sails features a number of real-life pirates and, though it often doesn’t stick too closely to real history, it does serve as one of the few shows to explore this period of world history in a more serious manner. Max’s critically-acclaimed Our Flag Means Death, for example, chronicles the lives of some of these same figures during the same time, but it does so through a more comedic lens.

Black Sails serves as a fun, more mature counterpoint to Pirates of the Caribbean, Disney’s wildly successful pirate franchise. The show essentially aims to depict pirate history with graphic violence and sex akin to what is featured in Game of Thrones, and it does seem like a show in this same vein focusing on pirates could be a hit today. It’s now been seven years since Black Sails concluded, and it’s time for another gritty pirate series to set sail.

Source: Insider

Black Sails Poster

Black Sails

Acting as a prequel to Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, Black Sails chronicles the story of Captain James Flint, detailing how Flint turned from a British Naval officer to a notorious pirate and his adventures with his crew in the Caribbean. Toby Stephens stars as Flint, and the series features many fictionalized versions of real-life pirates such as Anne Bonny and Blackbeard. 

Toby Stephens , Hannah New

Release Date
January 25, 2014


Brad Kane

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