During the climax of Pirates of the Carribbean: At World's End, Will and Elizabeth are married onboard The Black Pearl. The fact is Barbossa's first mutiny should have prevented him to be the "real" captain of the Pearl, but putting this aside I'm fairly sure that when Jack's right in the next ship fighting Jones, Barbossa couldn't be the offical captain of the Pearl. Therefore he shouldn't have the power to perform any marriage ceremony.

What I concluded from this is that their marriage may be in fact unofficial according to the maritime law, making that whole scene pointless. Even if they knew this, it would still disturb me that they consider Barbossa to be the real captain of the Pearl just because it serves them better at that moment. Either way this is one unnecessary plothole. Are they actually married?

Is it possible for them to get a consent from the Church considering they are pirates now. If not, with what we understand from movie's concept, can a captain marry a pirate couple on HIS ship?

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    Ways of getting married have changed through history. For a lot of time there was no need for priests or public servants to certify a marriage; e.g. in Bocaccio's Decameron a couple gets married just by the groom giving a ring to the bride as a token of marriage and the bride accepting it, both alone in their chamber (at conveniently dark so that the groom is not actually who the bride believed to be but one of his friends who fancied her). Not an answer because I am not so sure about the regulations at the time POTC is supposed to be.
    – SJuan76
    Commented Jan 20, 2019 at 17:03
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    This is essentially breaks down into two questions; who was captain of the Pearl at that given moment? and how does marriage works under maritime law? An answer to both of these reveals if the marriage was legitimate.
    – Ongo
    Commented Jan 20, 2019 at 17:04
  • Do people you're sword fighting count as witnesses? Commented Jan 20, 2019 at 17:24
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    @SJuan76 I consider their marriage only in the explained context of the movie. So if we stick to what movie told us about the legitimacy of a marriage, we can assume that a captain should be able to marry them (as Jack Sparrow previously stated in one of the movies). From what you tell, it may be possible for them to be legitimately married anyway with that time's laws or regulations etc but the scene showed it like that ceremony had to take place in order for them to get married instead of the previous one that got cancelled (in Dead Man's Chest). Or else why they bother?
    – guest
    Commented Jan 21, 2019 at 21:47
  • @ArcanistLupus maybe the friendlies...
    – guest
    Commented Jan 21, 2019 at 21:49

1 Answer 1


The inherent question you need to ask is, by what standard are you considering legitimacy?

It's a common myth that "maritime law" permits captains to marry couples in a legal sense by virtue of being captains. There are few scattered cases (Japanese and Romanian captains can marry citizens of their country) and a few negative cases (the United States Navy forbids their captains to officiate marriages), but by and large, those captain who do legitimately perform marriages due so after gaining other certification to do so (for example, I am an ordained minister of American Marriage Ministry, an online certification I picked up to officiate a friend's wedding). However, as per SJuan76's statement, the Catholic position (which was retained by much of Christianity) since the Council of Trent is that marriage is a sacrament entered into by the couple in question and that all that a priest or minister does is witness it and enter it into the records to ensure that someone does not marry multiple people and that all parties are honest in their intentions and not under coercion.

So, from that perspective, the marriage is completely valid in the eyes of the Holy Church, and would likely be considered valid within the government and the secular church with them simply stating upon their return that they went through the marriage ceremony with an officiant, and that marriage being put down into records. That actual captaincy of said officiant doesn't really matter so much.

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    The Catholic rules about what constitutes a valid marriage (a statement from the couple that they are married; or an earlier statement that they intended to marry, followed by consummation through sexual intercourse) were first specifically enunciated by the Venerable Beade. As Beade is such an important figure in the early English church, his rulings were still completely accepted by the Protestant Church of England. So there should be no question of the validity of the marriage by either the Spanish Catholic or established English churches.
    – Buzz
    Commented Jan 20, 2019 at 20:52
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    Given the infos about the legitimacy of marriages back at that times, two people bound by the rules of the Catholic Church marry each other in anywhere and regardless of the maritime law which makes the scene nothing more than a fan service. However, we know that by the time they got married, both Will and Elizabeth were pirates. So I see it very difficult for them to get a church approval or any other offical one for that matter. Is it possible for them to be approved by the church? If not, it brings us back to the maritime laws.
    – guest
    Commented Jan 21, 2019 at 22:30
  • @guest: maritime law has about as much bearing on marriage as it does on, say, building permits. And I'm curious why you think "being pirates" is a bar to marriage. Excommunication would nominally be a bar in the RC church, but they're not Spanish so are unlikely to be RC. (Plus, excommunication had gone mostly out of fashion by this point in time.)
    – Martha
    Commented Jan 21, 2019 at 23:10

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