Pirates of the Caribbean: When Does it Take Place?

When does Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pear take place?

This wikipedia article gives some tantalizing clues. It states that the “golden age” of Caribbean piracy ended c. 1680, and that Caribbean piracy was, for all intents and purposes, eradicated c. 1720. However, it also mentions that “The famous pirates of the early 18th century were a completely illegal remnant of a golden buccaneering age, and they could expect no more than eventual capture.” This seems to square with type of pirates that Sparrow & co. were - remnants whose fate seemed to be eventual capture.

The movie also provides a couple of clues. One is Elizabeth’s oblique mention of the pirate Morgan, who died in 1688.

The other, more telling clue from the movie is the flag that flies over the British ships. I can’t find a picture of it, but it resembles the current flag of Australia. IOW, the Union Jack (or something resembling it) appears in the upper-left corner, and the rest of the flag is a solid blue field (no stars like in Australia’s flag). Any Dopers have any idea of when such a flag flew on British ships?

Black Pearl

NOT Black Pear


Historically accurate Blue Ensign, which IMO suggests a time between 1707 and the effective end of piracy. The article gives a fair amount of background on it.

The men’s clothes looked mid-18th century to me, although my memory is a little fuzzy. Barbossa and crew looked like they were wearing late 17th century. Will’s hat looks Cavalier, which is early to mid 17th century.

Elizabeth’s dresses looked roughly 1750’s-60ish, but were not overboard on accuracy, I don’t think. Yep. Roughly mid 18th.

This site may be of interest to you. The clothing is in PotC is pure 18th century. Elizabeth and Governor Swann’s is more fashionable than the rest, and is late 18th century. I want to say around the same time as the American Revolution, though I can’t remember how wide the panniers were which would help place it.

There’s very little costume or location-wise to suggest that the movie was set in any other century than the 18th.

Upon looking at some pics I have, Will and Jack’s shirts have collars. Did any shirts include collars? I know they wore cravats and stocks, but I didn’t think shirts were collared in that period.

Eating a black pear might curse you with Montezuma’s Revenge.

The British flag flying at the fort is pre union with Scotland (no red stripes on the diagonal bars), so it would have to be before 1801.

Well, much earlier, falling collars were very popular with the Cavavliers, which may or may not have been attached permanently to the shirt. Wiki says the collar in conjunction with the cravat had fallen out of fashion by the 1650/60s, but made a return in the period we’re talking about.

Wiki says, “Shirt sleeves were full, gathered at the wrist and dropped shoulder. Full-dress shirts had ruffles of fine fabric or lace, while undress shirts ended in plain wrist bands. A small turnover collar returned to fashion, worn with the stock. The cravat reappeared at the end of the period.”

That sounds much smaller than what I’m remember Will and Jack wearing. Lower-class clothing tended to lag far behind upper-class fashion, but over hundred years seems quite a stretch for someone in the middle class like Will. It’s perfectly plausible for some of Jack’s clothing to be hopelessly out of date, but something frequently replaced like a shirt seems like it would more up-to-date. My guess on the shirts is that it was a theatrical decision, rather than an historical one. A band collar (standing or not) would be more likely, I’d think, than a floppy or wing collar.

Post union with Scotland (creating Kingdom of Great Britain, 1707), pre union with Ireland, which is what you’re specifying.

The sleeves on Elizabeth’s golden dress are really weird, now that I look at them. They are sort of ruched back and have falling ruffles. The men’s costume is definitely early to mid 18th, according to Nancy Bradfield’s Historical Costumes of England.

Isn’t it fun to be able to be really boring at parties? :smiley:

Polycarp, I stand corrected it is pre-Irish union.


The dress she wears on the cursed pirate ship is really weird, too. This red thing. It seems like it should be outdated enough relative to everything else that it should be falling apart, especially considering the conditions at sea. And it looks like it ought to be right, but something’s off with the whole ensemble. It strikes me as very McCalls patterns.

I guess it’s all pseudo-18th-century with a healthy dose of “Oooh! This goes pretty when you do this!”

I pretty much live for it. Less popular at keggers, more popular at theatre parties. I guess there was a reason I wasn’t prom queen . . .

Yeah, that doesn’t look remotely like… like anything, really. If anything, it should be Charles I’s or Commonwealth or… or something. But it isn’t. Not even remotely. It’s definitely an “Ooh! Pretty!” outfit.

I wonder if there’s a career in film costume nitpickery?

Ha! I wish. As it is now, throwing popcorn at the screen for costume boo-boos is a good hour and a half of entertainment whenever the latest historical-ish movie comes out. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one that got everything right. Maybe Master & Commander, but I don’t know a lot about British naval uniforms.

To get this back on track, I believe the costuming steers PotC to mid-eighteenth century, with lots of anachronisms.

Well, I don’t know historical costumes, but that’s the dress that was given to her by a Hell-cursed undead captain on a supernatural ship. I’d expect it to be weird, regardless of the time period.

Yeah, but unless the Demonic Powers have a nice little Demonic Fashion Designer, I’d expect something that looked vaguely like the last 100 or so years of costume.

Clothes don’t usually mutate under the influence of evil. Except maybe for the 70’s.

The guys who did Master & Commander worked their asses off to insure that as many details as possible were accurate. I know that the weapons were particularly dead-on, so I assume the costumes were as well.

They were incredibly anal about it, which was refreshing.

Well, that nails it to the 1770’s then.
Being evil and all, maybe it was made of polyester and that’s why it didn’t fall apart at sea in the tropics for a few decades.

I’m pretty sure there’s an unwritten rule about not using the word “anal” in reference to a sea epic. Even though the crew may indeed have been extremely fastidious about their costumes, it’s really not appropriate to describe them as anal seamen.

**Lissla Lissar ** and Miss Purl McKnittington: I’m deeply impressed by your insight into the costuming of this era. I live in the Tampa Bay area, and as you may know, Tampa is all about the pirates. There’s just so much piracy around, I can’t even begin to tell you. However, I have an acutely embarrassing confession to make: I do not own a pirate costume. It is shameful, I know. I walk down the street and people are all like, “Dude! Arrr! Where’s your pirate costume?” and then they laugh and sic their parrots on me. So I am seriously considering how best to assemble a properly authentic pirate costume. But I would like to do it right, of course, lest I be mocked for my anachronistic gussets or some such. Are there reference works and other sources that you could recommend to me for this purpose, or does this sort of knowledge simply have to be acquired via years of study?