How could the captain's treatment of his crew on the HMS Hermione prevent a mutiny?

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Dudley Pope, a historian and fiction writer whose books center on nautical subjects, opined that the mutiny on the HMS Hermione did not exclusively stem from Captain Pigot's brutal treatment of his men but was also rooted in Captain Pigot's blatant display of favoritism. In essence, Pigot created an inner-circle—many of whom were murdered during the mutiny—and the favorable treatment of that group caused animosity among the crew, especially those who were disrespected and physically punished for minor offenses and mistakes. Pope suggested that if Captain Pigot had been more even-handed and democratic in his leadership, the mutiny could have been prevented.

In Herman Melville's novella, Billy Budd, favoritism was actually in favor of the titular character. The captain in the story, Captain Vere, was fond of Billy. It was the master-at-arms, John Claggart, who despised and targeted Billy Budd. In this regard, favoritism, unlike in the case of the HMS Hermione, did not affect the outcome of the events.

However, it is worth noting that the two instances were different. Claggart was killed during a heated argument with Billy and was not due to a mutiny. Captain Vere was still in control of the ship and had the respect of the crew, especially Billy. Captain Vere exemplified true leadership and good virtue, which are two qualities that Captain Pigot did not possess.


Pope, Dudley. Black Ship. Pen & Sword Books, 2009.

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