Pirate Queen Artemisia
Raid in the Fog
A thick fog hung over the Persian armada like a bad omen as we sailed after the smaller Greek ships. Even with our vision obscured, we maintained full speed. This was a full-scale assault and we would not let the enemy escape. Little did we know the Greeks were using our aggression to lure us into a trap. Their retreat had funneled us into a small strait where our maneuverability was nearly zero versus theirs until it was too late. We’d gone from menacing wolves to sheep at the slaughterhouse. I knew this raid was a bad idea.
Queen of Halicarnassus
By all rights, I needn’t even be here. I was born in Halicarnassus to a Persian father of the Lygdamid dynasty and a Greek mother from the island of Crete. I lived a fully aristocratic life. After the passing of my ruling husband, I became Queen Regent for my young son, Pisindelis, who was not yet of age to rule. I did not rest on my laurels in this position as many would expect, oh no, that is where my legend was born.
We came to be stuck in this dubious haze thanks to a particularly vengeful chain of events. In retribution for the defeat at Marathon, the great Emperor Xerxes put out a call for as many ships as the Persian satrapies could offer. As acting ruler I send five ships and, though under no obligation, I chose to lead them into battle. This first link in the chain led to my initial reputation as a shrewd schemer and ruthless pirate.Dastardly
With the wind at my back and the salty mist drying to a crust on my skin, winning was everything and I won any way I could. One favorite tactic was to raise the Greek flag whenever foreign ships were first spotted. This way, by the time they realized we were actually Persian vessels, it was too late — they were outflanked and outwitted. I became so infamous for my success against the Greeks that they offered a 10,000 drachmas reward for my capture or confirmed death. That prize remained forever unclaimed.
My notoriety didn’t stop with the enemy, however, as even Xerxes himself sought my council in matters of war. Notably, before the Battle of Salamis – the name given to the foggy predicament we found ourselves in. I was the only commander who advised against engaging the Greek forces at sea. I lacked faith in the other commanders and feared it would lead to a defeat. Though the great Emperor valued my point of view and applauded my bravery in speaking out against the crowd, he decided to side with the majority and carry on with the battle.
It’s a Trap!
The only way out of the trap was to use the fog the Greeks had exploited to my own advantage. I ordered my ships to come about and copy the Greek tactic of ramming our own ships. With orders to hold fast and give no quarter, we plowed through fellow Persian ships. Boards buckled, oars splintered, our allies screamed and many cursed as they jumped overboard rather than be smashed against a mast or riddled with splinters. I directed my crew to push through, let nothing stand between us and our freedom. The ploy was so unexpected, it managed to fool a pursuing Greek ship into turning away and attacking another, more entangled Persian flagship.
I felt no remorse for my actions as I had explicitly stated that this raid was a poor tactical decision. I always looked out for my ships and crew; everything else came second. There was, however, no escaping a confrontation with Xerxes about my treachery when I returned to the Empire.
Facing the Emperor
The emperor perceived my actions as impressive. Not only was I lauded for my quick thinking and determination, but Xerxes granted me the honor of escorting his own children to Ephesus for safety. I was the only one he believed could arrive in Ephesus without incident proving that he held me in the highest esteem.
By the time the children were delivered, my son had taken his rightful place as ruler of Halicarnassus, leaving me free to pursue my own interests. I returned to the sea now untethered to Xerxes and the Persian Empire. In the end, it was a pirate’s life for me!
Marge Rosen is a Game Designer for Seaport Games. She designed the game Pirate Party: Women of the High Seas. When she isn’t playing games, she’s playing music.
Coming to Kickstarter!
Pirate Party: Women of the High Seas
Artemisia is one of six vibrant, diverse, historical women pirate captains with special powers in this twist on pirate card games.
Race to collect sets of cards by suit that include a captain and crew or sets of 3-of-a-kind. Plunder, pillage and raid from other players to take the largest pirate booty. If you are lucky, a mermaid may help you. Just beware the Kraken!
Did you enjoy this sea story about a legendary women pirate captains? Which pirate captain would you like to hear about?
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