Marriage changes fate
Ching Shih (石 陽) was born in 1775 in Guangdong province, China. Since growing up, she has worked as a prostitute in a technician in Guangzhou. Shih’s practice name is Shih Heang Koo (石 香姑).
In 1801, at the age of 26, Shih met a “visitor”, Cheng I (1765-1807) – a pirate. Cheng I comes from the notorious pirate family of the Cheng surname in Guangdong. He is 10 years older than Shih, has just met hit “love thunder”. Like the phrase “bimbo, wanderer girl”, Cheng I quickly paid Shih’s ransom money, promising “good luck together”.
Shih is an assertive woman. Before the marriage helps to get rid of the prostitute, she agrees immediately. There is also another Chinese pirate legend that said that Cheng I raided the hospital where Shih sold his body. He plundered material, prostitute and extremely suitable eyes Shih Heang Koo, eventually marrying her.
Regardless of the reason, the marriage contract between Cheng I and Shih remains clear: power and rights split. Under this covenant, Shih had half the real power of her husband. For each successful robbery mission, she gets 50% of the spoils.
Since becoming the wife of the pirate general, Shih has been involved in all missions. She also agreed to let Cheng I adopt Cheung Po (1783-1822), the child he kidnapped, to be adopted, allowed to be the heir.
Illustrative photo Cheng I (1765-1807)
Before taking Shih, Cheng I’s Red Flag Fleet consisted of only 200 pirate ships and 600 pirates. After joining Shih, he and his wife “beat the northeast”, acquired and unified pirate groups, forming a giant pirate alliance, with a membership of 50,000 to 70,000 people.
Under the command of the Cheng I and Shih couple, this pirate alliance is divided into six platoons, named after the colors blue, green, red, black, white and yellow.
Occupation, control by violence
On 11/16/1807, Cheng I passed away, at the age of 39 years old. Normally, the successor to the pirate general should be Cheung Po. However, Shih had no intention of stepping down from the grandstand or regent. She personally acquired power, becoming the sole head of the Red Flag Fleet. Since then, Shih is known as the “Queen of Pirates”, dominating an army of 800 large boats, more than 1000 small boats and 7-8,000 pirates.
Ching Shih (1775-1844)
As the leader, Shih established a new rule. She imposed a specific split principle, allowing only pirate boats to retain 20% of the spoils. The remaining 80% must be deposited and put into the general fund.
In addition to stealing property, the Red Flag Fleet also robbed people. Shih made it clear that she should be especially kind to the women who were arrested. She reviews them according to two criteria: beauty and no beauty. The beautiful people were kept in the boats, but were treated with great kindness. Shih absolutely forbids rape and violence against women. Any pirate who violated this principle was executed. If they want to be married to “woman of booty”, they must ask permission and swear to be faithful, to love and care for this person for the rest of their life.
The “women of booty” classified as “no beauty” are released, safe and untouched. Shih also declared that the traitor would be hunted to the end, cutting off their ears before being executed.
The Fear of South China
Since Shih took power, most coastal villages in the southern part of China have been under control. She plundered and enslaved, forcing them to “pay taxes” and obey. All the coasts stretching from Guangzhou to Macau were terrified of Shih. With only a slight protest, they were ordered by her to drag their necks onto the pirate boat, nailed them on the deck, and brutally tortured.
In addition to plundering the Chinese people, Shih also attacked foreign naval fleets such as the UK and Portugal. She defeated and robbed many large ships and boats.
In January 1808, the Qing Dynasty decided it was time to suppress the chaos. They waged a fierce naval battle, but were beaten by Shih, robbing the large boat. The Qing army had to squeeze in small boats and run away.
In September and November 1980, Shih was defeated by the Portuguese navy, with heavy losses. On January 21, 1810, she was forced to surrender to the Portuguese navy. At this moment, the Qing Dynasty jumped in asking for amnesty for the Red Flag Fleet. They also offered to give Cheung Po a commanding position in the navy.
After careful consideration, Shih decided to disband the band and return the salary. In addition to Cheung Po, she also arranged for many former members to step into the Qing government apparatus. In 1812, she asked the Qing Dynasty permission to remarry with Cheung Po, becoming the wife of the official. Although there is no bloodline between the two, things are also quite ambiguous. In the end, however, Shih and Cheung Po still successfully registered their marriage. In 1813, Shih gave birth to Cheung Po a precious boy, named Cheung Yu Lin.
Shih also has a daughter with Cheung Po. In 1822, Cheung Po died at sea, only 39 years old. Shih brought the kids to Macao, opened the gambling house. She has a very good voice in the Qing government apparatus, having worked as an advisor to Lin Zexu (1785-1850) in the First Opium War (1839-1842).
In 1844, Shih died in Macao at the age of 69.