Largest pirate fleet
Who
Guangdong Pirate Confederation
What
1,800 total number
Where
China ()
When
1809

At its peak, c. 1809, the Guangdong Pirate Confederation, or The Red Fleet, totalled some 1,800 junks and comprised more than 70,000 pirate crew. It was co-led by Chinese pirate captain Zheng Yi (b. Zheng Wenxian) and his wife Zheng Yi Sao (b. Shi Yang, c. 1775) between 1801 and 1810. One of the most influential female pirate leaders in history, Zheng Yi Sao took over the leadership role entirely after her husband's death in 1807, aligning with his adopted son Zhang Bao (who she would go on to marry).


Zheng Yi Sao was so powerful that the Qing authorities had to negotiate her surrender and allow her to keep 24 ships and 1,400 pirates.

After she retired, she opened a successful gambling house, which she ran until her death in 1844 aged approximately 68.