Also, known as “The Exceeding Treasure” or “ The Great Gunsway Heist” Ganj-i-Sawai was an enormous Indian treasure fleet that belonged to the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb.
This great ship full of gold and silver pieces, was attacked and captured in 1695 by the famous English pirate Henry Avery.
Total Worth: Up to 100 Million Dollars
Who was Henry Avery?
Henry Avery or Henry Every was an English Royal Navy worker, who later became the world’s most successful pirate after closing the score first with Fateh Mohammad and later with Ganj-i-Sawai, both treasure fleets worth almost a hundred million dollars.
What’s special about him is that he did it without ever getting captured or killed.
Henry Avery used many aliases throughout his lifetime, including Benjamin Bridgeman and Long Ben, and was given the nickname of “The Pirate King”.
Despite the fact the Avery was a pirate for no more than two years, he had pulled the most successful act of heist and had inspired others in the path of piracy. Many novels, poems and literature were motivated by his life and actions.
Henry Avery according to Uncharted 4 – A Thief’s End
He first began his career in service of the British Empire Royal Navy. He had taken part in many battles in Algiers, the Caribbean, Spain and France. After a loss, he was discharged from the navy. Avery later took part in the Atlantic Slave Trade.
By 1693, Avery joined the Spanish Expedition and quickly rose to fame because of his previous naval experience. He became an officer of the warship Charles II, which he later named “Fancy” after taking over it by the time he became a pirate.
He and the crew committed mutiny against Captain Gibson and banished him. Avery convinced his crew members to sail to Indian ocean and become pirates.
The Gunsway Heist
The Grand Mughal fleet, a convoy of 25 ships including the gargantuan 1600 ton 80-cannoned Ganj-i-Sawai and its escort the 600 ton Fateh Mohammad were spotted by Avery and his now even bigger crew and many other famous pirate allies he had convinced to join him on this heist.
The fleet made annual pilgrims to Mecca, so Avery were aware of the time and route.
After 5 days, Avery caught up with Fateh Mohammad, who had been badly damaged in a fight with one of Avery’s allies Thomas Tew. The Fancy easily defeated it and the loot was shared among everyone.
However, Avery’s crew got smaller shares, so they decided to chase the Ganj-i-Sawai, before catching and trapping it.
After a long and bloody fight of the ships, the giant Mughal fleet even though trapped, still managed to keep the pirates away with their guns, only until one of their cannons exploded, setting fire to a great part of the ship.
Taking advantage of this confusion, Avery’s crew took heart and landed on the Gunsway’s deck, and after a three hour fight the ship surrendered.
After days of killing, raping and mutilating, Avery got away with almost 800 hundred million dollars worth of gold, silver and precious jewelry from the Gunsway’s alone, making him the richest pirate in history.
Avery’s crew handing him a treasure chest
Henry Avery set sail to the Bahamas after the big heist and sold The Fancy. The Mughal Empire, East Indian Company and British Navy were all scouring the seas for Avery and the Fancy, having put a huge bounty on his and his crew’s head too.
Most of his crew were arrested or killed but Avery’s own disappearance is still a mystery.
Some say that he settled in Ireland then in England by the name Benjamin Bridgeman and grew poor of his treasure after getting betrayed by a bunch of merchants. Others say that he sailed to his own private pirate country of Libertalia in some island near Madagascar.
If you have played the Uncharted 4 game you know how it ended for Henry Avery.
A ruined Libertalia according to Uncharted 4
[SPOILER ALERT for Uncharted 4 game]
According to the game, Him and Thomas Tew alongside with some other famous pirates united all the pirates of the world and they settled in Libertalia with their stolen treasure.
However, after some years of prosperity, an old and mentally ill Avery grew greedy and decided to take all the loot for himself and leave. His decision led to the destruction of Libertalia and of course his death at the hands of Thomas Tew, where they kill each other.
Nonetheless, in reality no one knows where and when Avery died and what happened to the massive treasure.
This plunder of the Mughal’s treasure ship by an English pirate almost started a war between the two empires.
Emperor Aurangzeb prepared for an attack on the English city of Bombay in purpose of driving all the Englishmen out of the country when he heard about the raping of Muslim women on board at Ganj-i-Sawai. He considered it an unforgivable act, especially during the Hajj (Pilgrim) time.
The East Indian Company also suffered huge losses when the Emperor decided to cut off all ongoing trades between them and the Company. The company appeased him and pleaded to pay for their loss if he let them stay and continue to trade.
The Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb
Henry Avery captured and robbed 11 vessels during his life as a pirate, before disappearing into thin air. All the treasure he had taken also vanished with him.
Henry Avery’s Pirate Flag or Sigil: The Jolly Roger
Once again, I hope you have enjoyed my post about Ganj-i-Sawai. Since I am a huge gaming nerd, I have included some relative images from the Uncharted 4 game.
I will be writing about lost treasures every once in a while, so if you have anything in mind please request them in the comments.
Best of Luck!
Uncharted 4 – A Thief’s End (game)