Various types of pirates have existed throughout history, reflecting the social circumstances of their times. The product of international politics among maritime powers, they were more than merely outlaws who disturbed maritime trade, threatened the safety of shipping and committed brutal crimes. They have occasionally served as a proxy of state power or as resistance to oppressive state authority and exploitative social structures. Pirates were also an outcry for freedom against oppressive authority and brutal violence in the maritime world. Despite their social and historical context, however, the nature of pirates has remained unchanged: They are brutal and heinous criminals who plunder ships and inflict terrifying violence at sea.