She commanded thousands of pirates off the coast of China and hardly let a merchant ship get off scot-free: Cheng I Sao started out as a prostitute – and became the biggest privateer of her time. Until the Chinese government pulled out completely new strings.

Until their marriage in 1801, nothing is known about the life of the Cheng I Sao except their probable year of birth (1775) and their profession (prostitute). But the connection with the influential pirate leader Cheng I, whose family has been active in this trade since the 17th century, not only produced two sons, but one of the largest and richest pirate powers the world has ever seen. The ingenious coup of the pirate couple: He manages to unite the numerous gangs fighting each other under their strict leadership to form a powerful alliance, the terror of the South China Sea and on the South China coast – finally even far inland.