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Pirates of the Caribbean Wiki
For other uses, see Legend (disambiguation)

Will Turner listening to Joshamee Gibbs tell a legend of Jack Sparrow escaping an island on the backs of two sea turtles.

"Yer not talking about Stone-Eyed Sam and Isla Esquelética? Legend says Same 'e had the Sword of Cortés, and 'e cursed the whole island. Aye, I agree with only one part of that story—that it's legend. Legend, mate. 'A neat little city of stone and marble—just like them there Romans built,' they say. Bah! Rubbish! Aren't nothing like that in the Caribbean, I can tell you!"

A legend is folklore that consists of a narrative featuring human actions, believed or perceived to have taken place in human history. Most legends may or may not have a basis in fact by both the teller and listeners that give the tale likeness or semblance to reality, or to the truth. The term "legend" refers to either a story of unknown origin describing plausible but extraordinary past events, some being fabricated in which part of the truth is embellished to an unlikely degree; or a person of extraordinary accomplishments, usually a leading protagonist. Many legends possessed certain qualities and operated within the realm of uncertainty, never being entirely believed by the participants, but also never being resolutely doubted. Legends are sometimes distinguished from myths in that they concern human beings as the main characters rather than gods, and sometimes in that they have some sort of historical basis whereas myths generally do not.


Known legends[]

Davy Jones and Calypso[]

"You are saying that there is a real Davy Jones, that he is not just a sailor's legend? Not merely a...what is the English term...a figure of speech?"
"I've never seen him, but he's real. I've heard too many sailors talk about seeing his ship in bad storms.
Esmeralda and Jack Sparrow[src]

One legend of the sea tells the story of the goddess Calypso and the sailor Davy Jones.

In the days of myth and legend, the beautiful Calypso ruled the seas, and all sailors everywhere both loved and feared her.[1] According to legend, a great sailor named Davy Jones fell in love with the ancient sea goddess, described as a woman "as changing and harsh and untameable as the sea." Though some, like Joshamee Gibbs, heard it was the "sea" Jones fell in love with, though it was different versions of the same story.[2] He never stopped loving her and the pain it caused him was too much for him to bear so he carved out his heart and locked it away in a chest. He kept the key to the chest with him at all times.[3][4]

In reality, the story was not as simple or well-known. Once a mortal pirate, Davy Jones was later saddled with the responsibility of collecting the souls of deceased sailors to the Land of the Dead[5] and ferrying them to the worlds beyond. Jones devoted himself to the duty he was charged with by Calypso, knowing that he could come ashore after ten years later to be with her. But Jones was forsaken by Calypso, due to the sea goddess' nature. So Davy Jones plotted with the First Brethren Court to tear the rule of the seas away from Calypso.[1] Made up of nine Pirate Lords, the First Court had captured Calypso and bound her in human form. With her no longer able to send storms to destroy them, their own rule over the sea had become absolute. It had been the turning point for pirates everywhere. The imprisonment of Calypso meant that they could be the lords of the sea.[6][7]

The Flying Dutchman[]

"Davy Jones...is real?"
"He is. He sails on some kind of ghost ship. The
Flying Dutchman."
"But Davy Jones...that is not a Dutch name."
"Maybe he stole the ship? Your guess is as good as mine.
Esmeralda and Jack Sparrow[src]
Sea Fight Isla Cruces 3

The legendary Davy Jones and the barnacled crew of the Flying Dutchman.

When mariners awake screaming, it's because they had dreamed of a ghostly ship and its terrifying barnacled crew. In sailors' legends the Flying Dutchman rises from the ocean depths, its rigging draped in seaweed and its sails glowing like fire. It sped across the flat water when all other ships are becalmed. Its very beams sigh with human voices, weighed down with a century of weary toil. When sailors fall overboard and are doomed to drown they soon realize that the Dutchman is not just a myth, the ship appears before their eyes and they are swiftly plucked form the jaws of death and given the option to serve before the mast of Davy Jones' ship.[8]

Prior to this, the Flying Dutchman was used to ferry the souls who died at sea to the next world,[3] a duty Davy Jones was charged with by the sea goddess Calypso, as a reward for his love for her. Because of that love, Davy Jones agreed to set foot on dry land once every ten years to be with her.[7] One legend claimed that if this love was true to him, his task would be complete, and a new captain of the Dutchman would be found.[1] But after Calypso's imprisonment, Jones abandoned his duty, instead wreaking havoc on the seas and unleashing the Kraken upon many vessels. He also preyed on wayward sailors lost at sea who wished to avoid death and final judgment, press-ganging them into service, and became known as the ghastly Ruler of the Ocean Depths.[2] Jones was believed to have met his demise during the great maelstrom,[5] his death being at the hands of Will Turner. The Dutchman returned to its original purpose as the duty of the captain of the Flying Dutchman was passed to another.[7] Over twenty years later, Will Turner was freed by his son, Henry, who spent his life studying the myths of the sea, knowing every legend and every curse, and discovered that the Trident of Poseidon was the one thing that can break Will's curse and free him from the Dutchman.[9]

Jack Sparrow[]

"Jack Sparrow is no more. And was never more than selfish desire cloaked in romantic fictions. A legend we're well rid of."
Cutler Beckett[src]

How Captain Jack Sparrow wriggled his way into the pantheon of great pirate captains and attained the rank of Pirate Lord, no one knows. The fact remains, though, that his widely chronicled exploits have granted him a rather nefarious legend. It was considered insanity of the highest order to repeat his tragicomic misadventures would, including replicating his consumption of rum.[10] Nevertheless, it was believed Jack Sparrow's past is mired in a thick fog. One such story, somewhere in the midst of his service as an honest seaman, Cutler Beckett unjustly branded Jack as a pirate, leaving a mark that supposedly had nothing to do with Jack's past, but would have everything to do with his future as he turned to a life of piracy.[11][12]

Despite his dishonesty and many deceptions, Jack Sparrow did embark on a number of grand and thrilling adventures, some involving the supernatural and journeys in finding hidden treasures. Many myths and legends have been told of him, most of which have been embellished by Jack himself. Such tales have made Captain Jack Sparrow one of the most infamous pirates of the Caribbean,[13] having been able to create, or at least contributed to, his own reputation. These include Jack vanishing from under the eyes of seven agents of the East India Company, and that he sacked Nassau Port without firing a shot,[14] and having sunk a French war galleon with "naught but his cutlass and a diving bell."[15] Legend had it that Angelica was the only woman Jack Sparrow ever truly loved, but there have been occasions where she tried to kill him. Whether she broke his heart or he smote hers was an endless debate between the two pirates.[16]

One of the most notable and well-known legends was Jack's escape from Rumrunner's Isle.[17] It was said that days after Hector Barbossa marooned him on the island to die, Jack roped himself a couple of sea turtles to make a raft, with Sparrow escaping the island on the backs of the turtles. Will Turner was quick to point out a flaw in this story when Joshamee Gibbs relayed it aboard the Black Pearl: "What did he use for rope?" Jack himself supplied an addendum to the legend, stating he used human hair from his back.[14]

The Black Pearl[]

Black Pearl Ghost Ship

The Black Pearl, a legendary ghost ship.

"The Black Pearl is a real ship."
"No, it's not."
"Yes, it is, I've seen it.
Murtogg and Mullroy[src]

Reincarnated from the Wicked Wench, the Black Pearl was captained by both Jack Sparrow and Hector Barbossa.[18] One story heard whispered was that the Black Pearl was originally the well-known East India Trading Company merchant ship the Wicked Wench, captained by Jack Sparrow back when he was an honest seaman, ferrying cargo to and from Africa under the employment of Cutler Beckett. Furious with Jack's unwillingness to be involved when he found out that the cargo was human, Beckett tracked down the Wench and set her ablaze, then branded Jack as a pirate before the ship sank into a watery grave. Because Jack loved the ship more than his own life, he made a bargain with Davy Jones to raise the ship from the bottom of the ocean, but neither he nor the ship were the same since. Jack renamed the Wicked Wench as the Black Pearl as she emerged a ghost ship, her sails tattered and her hull blackened,[11][12] becoming the quintessential pirate ship.[19] In return for Jack's soul, Jones allowed Sparrow to captain the Black Pearl for thirteen years.[11][12] Sadly for Jack, the Pearl was stolen from him after two years when his First Mate Barbossa led a mutiny.[2]

Afterwards, legends told of a ghostly black ship that sometimes appeared when the fog grew thick. Its sails were big and black–as though they had been cut from shadow and sewn with sin. The timbers had been stained dark with the blood of innocent souls unlucky enough to cross the black ship's path. And its crew, it was said, were pirates all, cursed to sail forever under a foul wind of murder and mischief.[20] Rumors also arose of a ship with black sails that was so fast it was nigh uncatchable, said to be crewed by the damned and captained by a man so evil that Hell itself spat him back out. Some had heard the stories of the dreaded ship, known as the Black Pearl, a cursed ship that haunted the seas with a vicious crew. For over ten years she had sailed the waters of the Caribbean, preying on towns and vessels. Without warning, she would appear out of the night and attack, leaving nothing nothing but chaos and destruction in her path.[21] Sightings of the Black Pearl have been reported all over the world, ranging from Madagascar to Newport to Singapore.[11] The Black Pearl was a legend, an old ghost story told to young children to scare them. Even Mullroy, who let out a laugh upon hearing the ship's name from Jack Sparrow, knew not to be afraid of a ship that no one had ever seen—no less sailed on. Mullroy scoffed, "There's no real ship as can match the Interceptor," before arguing about if the Pearl was real or not with Murtogg, who claimed to have seen it.[22]

Ten years after Barbossa's mutiny, Jack Sparrow killed Barbossa and got the Black Pearl back,[14] only for the captain to go down with his ship when the Kraken pulled the Pearl—along with Sparrow—down to Davy Jones' Locker.[2] Jack came back up with it—and a resurrected Barbossa—when he was rescued. It's been a constant battle between the two "Captains" ever since,[11][7] until Barbossa's second death after defeating Armando Salazar at Poseidon's Tomb.[9]


"And what of you? The mighty Blackbeard. Beheaded, they say. Still, your body swam three times around your ship, then climbed back onboard. And here you are, running scared."
Jack Sparrow[src]

The fearsome pirate Blackbeard; stories of his cruelty have attained legendary status.

Of all the sea-rovers who ever hoisted the black colors, Blackbeard was the most notorious. Ruthless, cunning, and savage to his subordinates, he was nonetheless an able and even charismatic leader. An Englishman who was born Edward Teach, he began his career of plunder as one of the many privateers dispensed by King George to raid enemy ships during war. It wasn't until he struck out as a free agent that his true legend was born.[23] Blackbeard had become one of the most notorious pirates because he was a great sort of self-promoter. One of the legends of Blackbeard was that he would go into battle with smoke billowing around his head and guns all over him; the smoke came from light fuses embedded in his black beard that he plaited when he went into battle, so he was always fiery and smoky.[24] Blackbeard's death in Ocracoke Inlet became the most popular of all famous pirate battles because it was well-publicized at the time. Sent to track down Blackbeard, Lieutenant Maynard attacked at dawn on two small ships, and came up alongside Blackbeard. And Lieutenant Maynard attacked at dawn on two small ships, and came up alongside Blackbeard. After a tremendous fight onboard, Blackbeard was attacked with about twenty musket balls and six cutlass wounds and eventually fell to the deck, dead.[25] According to legend, Blackbeard was supposedly beheaded and swam around his ship three times before climbing back on board.[26] However, Blackbeard was not killed at all, while his history became legend and myth.[27]

As the fearsome pirate studied a variety of beliefs and techniques to his own ends, mainly practicing Voodoo, Blackbeard and his zombie officers had become known for raising havoc throughout the Caribbean. Blackbeard also wielded the Sword of Triton—a mystical weapon embedded with one of the three sapphires of Triton[28]—which he used to control ships, both the Queen Anne's Revenge and other vessels he captured. His crew of ghastly zombies obey his every command, and they don't fear death because they're already dead.[23] As Blackbeard's flagship, the Queen Anne's Revenge had a cage put on the back, a Greek fire-based weapon on the bow, and the entire ship was decorated with the skeletons of his victims as trophies.[29] Finding himself a prisoner forced aboard the ship by Blackbeard's daughter Angelica, Jack Sparrow was unaware of where he was or who was dealing with, until he learned the name Queen Anne's Revenge from Scrum. Jack knew the name well, "Blackbeard," he said aloud to himself,[26] more than a little worried as the famous captain had a murderous reputation.[13]

Quest for the Sword of Cortés[]

"This is the cursed sword that gave Cortés the power to conquer the Aztec empire! Legend has it that the sword made him unstoppable in battle....And it gave him strange powers, like convincing the Aztecs that he was a god. The Aztecs believed the god Quetzalcoatl would come back to them someday, and with this sword, Cortés convinced them that's who he was. Legend says the sword holds limited power if the one who possesses it doesn't also have its sheath."
Arabella Smith[src]

The corrosive conquistador Hernán Cortés used a cursed sword to conquer the Aztec empire. Legend said that the sword made Cortés unstoppable in battle and granted him strange powers, such as convincing the Aztecs that he was the god Quetzalcoatl. The sword held limited power if the one who possessed it didn't also have its sheath. Later legends tell of Stone-Eyed Sam using the sword to curse Isla Esquelética, as "A neat little city of stone and marble—just like them there Romans built."[30]

Arabella Smith overheard some of the stories at the Faithful Bride tavern, told between a sailor and the second-rate pirate known as Handsome Todd. To the patrons of the Bride, she was just the girl who filled the tankards, but she had heard hundreds of stories and legends over the years. Each story was almost like being on an adventure.[30]

Blood of the Aztec Curse[]

Aztec Gold Chest COTBP

The stone chest of Cortés.

"The Black Pearl? I've heard stories. She's been preying on ships and settlements for near ten years. Never leaves any survivors."
"No survivors? Then where do the stories come from, I wonder?
Jack Sparrow and a seedy prisoner[src]

There were stories told of a ghostly ship with black sails that haunted the Caribbean—its crew and captain cursed for all time to search for a mysterious treasure of Isla de Muerta. Some had heard the stories of the dreaded ship, known as the Black Pearl. For over ten years she had sailed the waters of the Caribbean, preying on towns and vessels. Without warning, she would appear out of the night and attack, leaving nothing nothing but chaos and destruction in her path.[21] The Black Pearl was a legend, an old ghost story told to young children to scare them. Even Mullroy, who let out a laugh upon hearing the ship's name from Jack Sparrow, knew not to be afraid of a ship that no one had ever seen—no less sailed on. Mullroy scoffed, "There's no real ship as can match the Interceptor," before arguing about if the Pearl was real or not with Murtogg, who claimed to have seen it.[22] However, despite knowing first-hand about the legends behind the Black Pearl, Jack Sparrow did not believe the tales of the cursed treasure that has doomed Barbossa's crew to live forever as undead skeletons eerily transformed in the moonlight, nor of their intention to restore the plundered treasure in total and a blood debt repaid.[14]

Although Governor Weatherby Swann wanted his daughter to be a proper member of Port Royal society, Elizabeth Swann had long been fascinated with pirates and legends of the sea.[31] Though she had great knowledge on most pirate legends, such as Jack Sparrow and the Code of the Brethren, she hadn't known of many other stories of the sea.[32]

Search for the Dead Man's Chest[]

"You know this place?"
"Stories. The Church came to the island, and brought salvation, and disease and death. They say the priest had to bury everybody, one after the other. It drove him mad, and he hung himself.
James Norrington and Elizabeth Swann[src]

Legend had it that a tortured soul called Davy Jones lives beneath the sea, his still-beating broken heart locked away in a chest, and a terrible sea beast at his command. Unfortunately for the notorious pirate, Captain Jack Sparrow, this particular legend is very real. Years ago, Jack made a deal with Davy Jones, who is now expecting him to make good on his promise by handing himself over to Jones's servitude or else he'll send the Kraken. But Jack would not give in without a fight, and so he sought to seize the fabled Dead Man's Chest.[3][2]

Stories were told of Isla Cruces, in which the island was once populated and that the Church of England also established itself on the island. However, it was said to have brought disease to the island, resulting in a plague that wiped out the entire population. The priest had to bury the inhabitants, one by one, until he went insane and hung himself. Upon being told the story by Elizabeth Swann, James Norrington responded, "Better mad with the rest of the world than sane alone."[33][34] When Jack Sparrow asked Will Turner how he got to the island, Will said "Sea turtles, mate. A pair of them, strapped to my feet," referencing a well-known legend that Jack Sparrow himself had escaped an island on the backs of turtles. Jack grinned at Will's slight, saying "Not so easy, is it?"[17]

During the fight for the key to the Dead Man's Chest at Isla Cruces, Jack headed for the old church. Racing into the bell tower, key in hand, he climbed the wooden stairs. High above him, dangling from the timbers was the skeleton of the legendary hanged priest. Jack gave the skeleton a quick nod and continued his climb before Norrington and Will caught up to Jack. As Jack fell of the stairway, he reached out and grabbed the bell tower rope that held the priest's skeleton. Jack and the skeleton both dropped straight down. But Will grabbed the second rope and was hoisted up just as Jack was making his way down.[35]

War Against Piracy[]

"Calypso. An old legend."
"No. The goddess herself, bound in human form. Imagine all the power of the seas brought to bear against our enemy. I intend to release her. But for that I need the Brethren Court. All the Court.
Sao Feng and Hector Barbossa[src]

Since the golden age of pirates, the Pirate Lords have ruled the Seven Seas. Lord Cutler Beckett of the East India Trading Company was on a mission to change that balance of power. Having already heard of Jack Sparrow's death by the Kraken, Beckett said that Jack was "a legend we're well rid of."[36] However, Jack was brought back from the Land of the Dead and participated in the Fourth Brethren Court meeting.[7]

While convincing Sao Feng to side with the pirates, even after his betrayal, Hector Barbossa referred to the legend of the imprisoned sea goddess Calypso.[6] In spite of Sao Feng scoffing at Calypso being an old legend, he made an accord with Barbossa. Prior to this, Elizabeth Swann told Sao Feng that he commanded in an age of piracy where bold captains sail free waters, that weren't measured in feet, but as increments of fear, and those who pass the test become legend.[7]

The Fountain of Youth[]

"Legends tell that everlasting life can be found at the Fountain of Youth, but only those who possess the knowledge of the ancient ritual can achieve their heart's desire."
Logbook of the Santiago[src]

Detail of passage to the Fountain of Youth from the Map to the Land of the Dead.

There are many myths of the seven seas, but the fate of few ships has been debated like that of the Santiago. Sent to discover the marvels of the New World in the 16th century, the ship had been missing ever since. Legends say that its captain, the Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León, discovered the Fountain of Youth. Two centuries after Ponce de León's search, the Santiago once again figures in the schemes of ruthless men.[37] In the right conditions, the Mao Kun Map would show its owner the route taken by Ponce de León in 1523, which led those searching for the Fountain to Florida, where the fabled Fountain was purported to be located. However, looking further into the map, the Fountain of Youth was actually located on a mysterious island located in the Caribbean.

According to the legend, some very specific items were necessary to perform the Profane Ritual of the Fountain of Youth.[13] The two silver Chalices of Cartagena were a crucial part of the ritual to gain eternal life; for the ceremony required not just a seeker of youth but also a victim whose years will be consumed. Both must drink from the Chalices, at which point all the years of the victim's life will be transferred to the seeker. The perilous waters of Whitecap Bay must then be reached, for mermaids lurked beneath the pale, foaming breakers. Such an attempt was made during the quest for the Fountain, when a longboat full of members of Blackbeard's crew was sent to lure a mermaid for her tears. Legend has it that man-made light and song attract the sirens of the sea, so the boat is lit by the beam of the lighthouse and Scrum sang a swaying sea shanty.[38] Only a mermaid's tear, placed in one of the Chalices, would set the rejuvenating forces to work. Finally, the Fountain of Youth itself must be reached in order for the ceremony for immortality to begin.[39]

Examples of famous legends[]

Behind the scenes[]



See also[]

External links[]

Notes and references[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (video game)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (junior novelization)
  4. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Complete Visual Guide, pp. 62-63 "Davy Jones"
  5. 5.0 5.1 The Secret Files of the East India Trading Company
  6. 6.0 6.1 Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (junior novelization), pp. 32-33
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
  8. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Complete Visual Guide, pp. 64-65 "The Flying Dutchman"
  9. 9.0 9.1 Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
  10. The Captain Jack Sparrow Handbook, p. 34
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 The Pirates' Guidelines
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 The Price of Freedom
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (junior novelization)
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
  15. 15.0 15.1 Pirates of the Caribbean: The Legend of Jack Sparrow
  16. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides: The Visual Guide, pp. 22-23: "Angelica"
  17. 17.0 17.1 Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (junior novelization), p. 119
  18. DisneyPirates.com - Archived
  19. 19.0 19.1 Pirates of the Caribbean production notes, accessed Dec 9, 2006
  20. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003 junior novelization), p. 1
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2006 junior novelization), p. 48
  22. 22.0 22.1 Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2006 junior novelization), p. 22
  23. 23.0 23.1 The Captain Jack Sparrow Handbook, p. 30
  24. POTC4 Presskit
  25. Below Deck: An Interactive History Of Pirates
  26. 26.0 26.1 26.2 Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
  27. "Blackbeard's history is definitely a legend, and like most legends, may or may not have a basis in fact." - Terry Rossio
  28. ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides’ New Stills Feature Queen Anne’s Revenge, Character Descriptions
  29. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides: The Visual Guide, pp. 28-29: "Blackbeard"
  30. 30.0 30.1 Jack Sparrow: The Coming Storm
  31. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2006 junior novelization), p. 4
  32. It is apparent that in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Elizabeth didn't know about the Aztec curse. Also, in Dead Man's Chest, she didn't seem to know about Davy Jones, the Flying Dutchman, or the Kraken.
  33. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (junior novelization), p. 115
  34. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest Deleted Scene: "Salvation"
  35. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (junior novelization), p. 124
  36. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (junior novelization), p. 10
  37. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides: The Visual Guide, pp. 60-61 "The Santiago"
  38. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides: The Visual Guide, pp. 54-55 "Whitecap Bay"
  39. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides: The Visual Guide, pp. 24-25: "The Secret of Eternal Youth"
  40. LIVE THE LEGEND piratesonline.com