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Elizabeth Swann, King of the Fourth Brethren Court.

"As per the Code, an act of war, and this be exactly that, can only be declared by the Pirate King."
"You made that up."
"Did I now?
Hector Barbossa and Jack Sparrow[src]

The Pirate King, also referred to as King of the Brethren Court, was the elective monarch and leader of the Brethren Court. According to the Pirate Code, the King was holder of a great amount of power, and would lead the pirates around the globe. To be elected Pirate King, the plurality of the Pirate Lords were required to vote on a single candidate. This process was fraught with difficulty as it was common for each Lord to vote for themselves. Elizabeth Swann was the most notable Pirate King.


Rules on becoming King[]

"Hang on a minute. 'It shall be the duties, as the king, to declare war, parley with shared adversaries...' Fancy that."
Jack Sparrow[src]

During the Second Brethren Court, the Pirate's Code was set down by Captains Morgan and Bartholomew and recorded in the Pirata Codex. One section of the Code was written about the matter of the Pirate King. When the very existence of pirates seemed imperiled, and the Brethren wish to declare an act of war against a common adversary, they can do so only upon the agreement and the election of a Pirate King.[1]

A Pirate King was selected by a popular vote of the nine Pirate Lords of the Court. Prior to nomination, there were three requirements in order to become King: the applicant must be captain of a ship, swear by the Code, and have killed a man. Once these prerequisites were proved, the elected King is sworn in by the Keeper of the Code. Duties of the Pirate King were detailed in the Pirata Codex and included declaring war, parlay with adversaries, assembling forces, and fashioning strategies.[1]

King of the Court[]

"There has not been a king since the First Court. And that's not likely to change."
"Not likely."
"Why not?"
"See, the Pirate King is elected by popular vote."
"And each pirate only ever votes for hisself.
Chevalle, Teague, Elizabeth Swann, Joshamee Gibbs and Hector Barbossa[src]

Throughout the history of the Age of Piracy, there was only two Pirate Kings. The first King led the First Brethren Court in binding Calypso into her human form.[2] Because each pirate usually only voted for himself, and they don't usually live that long for occupational hazard reasons, the Brethren wouldn't have a suitable King for the next two meetings.[1] It wasn't until the Fourth Brethren Court that a new King was elected, when Jack Sparrow called for a vote and, while the other Lords voted for themselves, changed the balance by voting for Elizabeth Swann and was her second vote. As Elizabeth met the requirements for the position, she was elected King, thereby giving her power to vote for war against Lord Cutler Beckett and the East India Trading Company.[2]

Known Pirate Kings[]

Behind the scenes[]

  • In the first screenplay draft of At World's End, it was Hector Barbossa who nominated Elizabeth Swann for the position of the Pirate King. All the pirate captains at the meeting agreed with his proposal because she was the only one who hasn't made enemies among them.
  • In the novel On Stranger Tides, which was used as the basis for Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Blackbeard is unofficially known as the Pirate King.
  • In Terry Rossio's original script for Dead Men Tell No Tales, a young girl named Cora June (actually the villainous Sea Widow in disguise) would have mentioned to Jack Sparrow that he was the one who orchestrated Elizabeth Swann's election as Pirate King.[3]



Notes and references[]

Members of the Brethren Court

First Court
Pirate Kings
First Pirate King
Pirate Lords
First Pirate Lord of the Atlantic Ocean
Aides: Davy Jones

Second Court
Pirate Lords
Henry MorganBartholomewGrandmama

Third Court
Pirate Lords
Sao Feng's father
Others: Tartaglia

Court of inquiry
Pirate Lords
ChingBoris PalachnikRafaelEdward TeagueEduardo Villanueva
Aides: Davy Jones
Keeper of the Code: Edward Teague
Others: Hector BarbossaJack SparrowEsmeralda
Prison Dog

Fourth Court
Pirate Kings
Elizabeth Swann
Pirate Lords
AmmandSumbhajee AngriaHector BarbossaChevalleChing
Sao FengJocardJack SparrowElizabeth SwannEduardo Villanueva
Aides: AskayPusasn
Keeper of the Code: Edward Teague
Others: Prison Dog