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Ching Shih, Cantonese Pirate
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Ching Shih (1775-1844) was a prominent pirate in middle Qing China who terrorized the China Sea in the early 19th century. She was a Cantonese prostitute who married Zheng Yi, a notorious Cantonese-Chinese pirate. The name she is best remembered by means simply "widow of Zheng". When he died in 1807 she maneuvered her way into his leadership position whereby she commanded over 600 ships and more than 30,000 seamen, while the organization as a whole, mustered over 150,000 fighting men, making it the largest pirate confederation in history. The Red Flag Fleet under Ching Shih's rule could not be defeated; not by Qing dynasty Chinese officials, nor by the Portuguese or British navies. In 1810, amnesty was offered to all pirates, and Ching Shih took advantage of it. She kept her loot, married her lieutenant and adoptive son Cheung Po Tsai, and opened a gambling house. She died in 1844, at the age of 69.
June 1st, 2013
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