The source of the Great Pirates power is that they are the only masters of global information in a time where people are focused locally. Specifically, the Great Pirates are aware that resources are not evenly distributed around the world, so that items which are abundant in one area are scarce in another. This gives rise to trade which the G.P.'s exploit for their own advantage.
Power struggles for waterways ensue, requiring people like Leonardo DaVinci and Michelangelo to design better defenses for the Great Pirates. The Pirates establish governments in various areas and support leaders who will defend their trade routes.
As engineers become involved with the Great Pirates many new concepts appear, but the main one was of the Navy. As the size of the people in the Great Pirates' employment grow, training becomes a necessity, and the beginnings of schools and colleges ensue. Monarchs are encouraged to develop civil service systems to provide secure but specialized employment for their brightest subjects, which prevents them from competing with the Great Pirates in their lucrative global trading. Thus the G.P.'s guarded the advantages that their unique global perspective revealed.