Historians struggle for impartiality, but the simple choice of words can betray an unconscious bias. For example, are the insurgents "traitors" or "patriots"? "Rebels" or "freedom fighters"? When it comes to the Hospitallers of the 15th and 16th centuries, is their navy composed of "corsairs" or "pirates"? "Pirate," like "traitor" and "rebel," is a word we usually apply to our enemies. It is revelatory that most western European historians use the word "corsair" to describe the navy of the Order of St. John. The word confers legitimacy upon the Order's actions, and supports the claim that the Order's navy was simply pursuing the crusades against the Muslims in another guise. In comparison, scholars who study the Ottoman empire do not hesitate to use the word "pirate" to describe the Order's unprovoked raids upon shipping and coastal towns.
Come sail the Mediterranean seas and visit two islands that some modern historians call "hotbeds" of piratical activity - the sunny isles of Rhodes and Malta. Your guide will be Dr. Theresa Vann, the Joseph S. Micallef Curator of the Malta Study Center, who has more than once navigated these treacherous waters.
Vann, Theresa, "Catholic Pirates: A Revisionist Look at the Hospitallers of Rhodes and Malta" (2011). HMML Lectures. 3.