Pirate Queen Artemisia

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

Marge Rosen

Game Designer

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!

box for pirate party women of the high seas card game. 2-4 players ages 10+
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?

Pirate Party: Women of the High Seas is coming to Kickstarter soon!  Follow along and get first access to the game and game news.


The Pirate Queen of Morocco

The Pirate Queen of Morocco

Sayyida al Hurra – Child Refugee

I was born to a prominent Muslim family of nobles in Granada, a great city in what is sometimes known as “Moorish Spain,” around 1485. I often wonder how different my path in life might have been had I grown up in Granada instead of being driven away when I was a child. You see, the Christian Reconquista had been slowly conquering Muslim kingdoms in the Iberian Peninsula for centuries, culminating in the fall of Granada, my home, in 1492. To stay meant persecution and forced conversion from Islam, so we fled.

My family, like many refugees, crossed the Alboran Sea to safety and solace in Morocco. For me specifically, that meant the city of Chefchaouen. Perhaps this seafaring voyage helped shape the pirate I would become, but the harrowing escape certainly left its mark. While my childhood was wrought with no other immediate dangers, the ghost of my home across the sea never stopped haunting me.

The one thing that came closest to excising that phantom, though, was education.


Once safely in Morroco, I continued my education and became fluent in many languages, including Spanish and Portuguese. My gift for languages would be invaluable in my later life as a Governor, diplomat, pirate captain and Queen. My growing intellect and thirst for knowledge would serve me well in my next adventure: marriage.

My first husband was Abu Hassan al-Mandari, a fellow refugee who was governor of the northern port city of Tétouan. This union proved vital in my rise toward becoming a truly powerful woman. With Al-Mandari, I learned the ins and outs of business and governance and was very often left fully in charge of the city when he was away.

The populace so embraced me as their ruler that, after my husband’s death, I became the sole governor and earned the name by which I am most known: Sayyida al Hurra, Hakimat Titwan, the “Sovereign Lady, Governor of Tétouan.” To many, though, Sayyida al Hurra would soon come to mean “Pirate Queen.”

Pirate Captain

Thinking their colossal vessel, laden with valuable commodities for the New World, was impervious to pirates, the multi-decked Spanish sailing ship made for the Strait of Gibraltar. As the galleon neared the narrow birth to the Atlantic, my smaller, faster, and more maneuverable fleet came at them from the southern coast like blades, poised to run them through. The Spanish captain made a desperate attempt to veer north as his gun ports flew open and cannons were readied. The wind that day was mostly due west, though, and while the galleon’s rudder allowed it to turn quickly, the sails couldn’t be adjusted in time, and the large ship slowed. This allowed my nimble galley to streak across their port side before a single ball could be fired, while the rest of my fleet unleash a barrage on the galleon’s unprepared starboard.

Huge splinters littered the sea as cannon fire tore through the galleon’s gun deck, aft mast, and rudder. I ordered my ships around the bow of the thwarted galleon so we could begin climbing the shrouds and ratlines, weapons at the ready should the Spaniards offer any resistance – they did not. While we took stock of our new booty and restrained our captives, my fleet created a perimeter in case Spanish backup or other corsairs should hope to claim our prize.

As it turned out, the day would be ours with no further struggle. It was a decisive victory!

As their leader, I ushered in a time of unprecedented wealth and prosperity for the people of Tétouan, and I did so in large part thanks to the plundered gold, goods, and riches I looted from various Spanish and Portuguese ships.

My vengeance grew slowly from the seed that was planted as a child until it finally bloomed in the form of merciless maritime combat and ruthless ransoms I would personally negotiate thanks to my gift for language.

Strategic Alliance

When I combined my nautical might with notorious Barbary Coast corsair Barbarossa of the Ottoman Empire, true domination of the Mediterranean Sea ensued. With our combined strength, not even a well-armed Spanish galleon was safe.

I first grew interested in Barbarossa when I learned of his efforts to transport Muslim refugees from Spain to North Africa. Together, we patrolled and controlled the frothy blue Mediterranean Sea into the Atlantic Ocean and many of the towns and villages dotting the southern coast of Spain. Additionally, because Morocco had no formal navy, our ships became the de facto force that would protect my adopted home from those who would colonize and enslave my people, much like they had my home in Granada.

Queen of Morocco

My reputation had grown to such proportions that a Sultan of the Moroccan Wattasid dynasty, Ahmed al-Wattasi, wished for my hand in marriage. I agreed, but to show that I would remain the sovereign governor of Tétouan and not merely take my place at the side of my would-be husband, I demanded the Sultan travel from Fez to be married in my city. This was the only time in recorded history that such a wedding would take place anywhere other than the capital. I had become accustomed to getting my way – such is the life of a Pirate Queen!


box for pirate party women of the high seas card game. 2-4 players ages 10+
Pirate Party: Women of the High Seas

Sayyida al Hurra is one of six historic women pirate captains in the competitve card game.

Race to collect sets of cards featuring vibrant, diverse, historical women pirate captains with special powers. Period ships are beautifully illustrated. 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?

Pirate Party: Women of the High Seas is coming to Kickstarter soon!  Follow along and get first access to the game and game news.


Marge Rosen

Marge Rosen

Game Designer

Marge is a game designer and owner of  Seaport Games, an indie tabletop game design studio and publisher.

Corsair to Admiral

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Corsair to Admiral

Barbarossa (Red Beard)

Barbarossa was the most feared corsair sailing the Mediterranean Sea during the early 16th century.   He sank ships, seized many Spanish galleons, and attacked coastal castles for the Ottoman Empire. Barbarossa retook Algiers from Spain in 1526.

Originally named Khizr, he was born on a Greek island to a family of sailors.  Khizr began his career as a corsair under his elder brother Oruc.  In 1516 they captured Algiers from Spain and Oruc named himself the Sultan.

After Oruc’s death in 1518, Khizr inherited his brother’s nickname – Barbarossa (Italian for “Red beard”) and received the honorary name Hayreddin.

With his successful pirating exploits and excellence in seamanship, he later became a grand admiral in the Ottoman Navy.  He was also known as Hızır Hayrettin Pasha, the King of the Sea and Pirate of Algiers.

How Many Pirates can you name?


A person who attacks and robs ships at sea. A rogue, scoundrel or lawless adventurer of the sea. Also known as corsair, buccaneer, privateers, raider, rover, marauder, freebooter, picaroon, and sea wolf, among others.

Pirate legends and the allure of pirate treasure made some of the most infamous pirate captains the inspiration for novels, pop culture, and blockbuster movies.

How many real, historical pirates can you name?

Did you have to search to find more than three names?

Barbarossa, Italian for Red Beard, sailed the Mediterranean in the early 16th century as a corsair attacking Spanish galleons and coastal castles.

Blackbeard, born Edward Teach in England, sailed the Atlantic and Caribbean in the early 1700s during the Golden Age of pirates. He joined the Royal Navy and also sailed as a privateer before becoming the most well known pirate captain in the world.

Black Bart, born John Roberts, was a Welsh pirate who raided ships off the Americas and West Africa between 1719 and 1722. He was the most successful pirate of the Golden Age of Piracy as measured by vessels captured, taking over 400 prizes in his career.