The pirate fortress of Suvarnadurg in the Arabian Sea is captured by Commodore William James.

Those exposed to 21st-century pop culture tend to think of pirates in terms of Jack Sparrow or the digital-media pirates. However, there is more to the history of piracy than either of those modern incarnations. Piracy is taking something for oneself illegally, as constituted by the ruling law. As Kanhoji Angre proved, the distinction of illegal, pirate, or hero is at the discretion of the dominator.

On this day, April 2, in 1755, the fortress of Suvarnadurg is captured by Commodore William James. Suvarnadurg is located in the Arabian Sea, which is west of India and south of Iran and Pakistan. Kanhoji Angre, who held the fortress before the British takeover, was dubbed a pirate by the British, but throughout his life, he was able to withstand any foreign power that attempted to take control of his island and fortress.

Commodore William James was born into a poor family and ran away to sea at the ripe age of 11. By 17, he was commanding his own ship. The order was for James to set up  a blockade on the fortress, but with his knowledge of the island, James was able to get close enough to blow up the fortress. By this time, Suvarnadurg had been handed down to Kanhoji’s son, Tulaji. James received the measly sum of 100 pounds for his success. Since then, Suvarnadurg, which translates as “Golden Fort,” has been in British possession.