The Four Emperors (四皇, Yonkō) are currently the most powerful pirates in the world, and as such are the closest to One Piece. Their main area of influence is the back of the Grand Line – the New World – over whose pirate bands they rule almost like emperors. They are classified and feared by the World Government as part of the Three Powers. Only the combined forces of the Navy Headquarters and The Seven Warlords of the Seas could stand against them. The Navy, after eliminating the Samurai of the Seas at Levely 1524, hopes to turn the balance in their favor through the Special Science Group led by Vegapunk.
The original emperors were: Edward “Whitebeard” Newgate († in Marine Ford), “The Red Shanks”, Charlotte Linlin aka “Big Mom”, and Kaidou. Whitebeard’s death upset the balance of power, resulting in a power struggle over the resulting void. According to the Five Elders, Blackbeard was the most likely candidate for the position, which eventually proved to be true. Finally, after the events in Totto Land, Luffy is also named the Fifth Emperor by the World Economic Review.
|„||The New World is a sea ruled by the Four Emperors:|
“Big Mom !”
Now that the balance of powers has crumbled, who knows what will happen now.
|– Kid about the New World.|
Influence & Strength
Since there is currently no reigning pirate king, a sort of hierarchy has emerged among the sheer mass of pirates, with the Four Emperors independently enthroned at the top. Powerful pirates who were defeated by one of the Yonkō and therefore had to submit are many. For example, Portgas D. Ace, in his time as captain of the upstart Spade pirate band, suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of Whitebeard and subsequently became one of his “sons” as well as later commander of the 2nd Division. Generally, notorious pirates who failed Whitebeard are referred to as “silver medallists” (jap. 銀メダリスト, Gin Medarisuto).
Whitebeard had gathered under him an alliance of a whole 43 pirate bands loyal to him, who went to war with him but otherwise acted independently. It cannot be ruled out that some of them also originally lost to Whitebeard before swearing allegiance to him – but also people who submitted to him of their own free will. This is also the case with the other emperors. When X. Drake entered a winter island located at the beginning of the New World, he encountered a group of men guarding the island in Kaidou’s name. It was later revealed that he had joined Kaidou. Capone Bege was also one of those who tried to take action against the Emperors. However, he lost out to Big Mom and joined their alliance.
The power of the Four Emperors is so entrenched that even a simple Jolly Roger or the mention of the name is enough to inspire incredible fear in a large portion of everyone. Whitebeard, for example, declared Foodvalten or Fishmen’s Island to be his “territory”, thus bringing peace, as traffickers and pirates henceforth desisted from plundering for fear that Whitebeard would hunt them down. After Whitebeard’s passing, Big Mom took his place as protector of Fish-Man Island. Foodvalten, on the other hand, was raided by the pirate Brownbeard shortly after Whitebeard’s death.
Not much is known about the exact strength of the Four Emperors, but they see eye-to-eye as rivals. The meeting between Whitebeard and Shanks was deemed by the World Government to be potentially too high a threat, and as a result, Naval Headquarters was placed on emergency alert. When Whitebeard’s Bisento and Shanks’ sword clashed, even the sky itself split. Another indication of an Emperor’s strength was Shanks’ surprising presence in Marine Ford. Everyone present then stopped fighting and Grand Admiral Sengoku declared the battle over, as he seemed to respect Shanks greatly.
While the Emperors are primarily feared as individuals, their gangs also contribute no small amount of fighting power and influence. An individual could never make it that far up the ladder, as the captain depends on a capable crew to watch his back. Charlotte Brûlée reported to the effect that during the two years following the Battle of Marine Ford, several pirate captains of the worst generation had invaded Big Mom’s territory, but had been defeated before even setting eyes on the Empress herself. In addition to the Empress, the commanders also pose an enormous threat, with enormous bounties of up to a billion berries to show for it, at least in Big Mom’s pirate gang. While Urouge still managed to defeat one of these high-ranking commanders, against the seemingly endless mass of other strong fighters in Big Mom’s Pirates, Urouge was subsequently forced to flee. Whitebeard’s division commanders Marco, Jozu and Vista were also able to keep up with the likes of the Admirals and Hawkeye. The same goes for Benn Beckman, the vice of Shanks. Thus, all Yonkō gangs seem to have comparable power, as the balance based on the principle of a stalemate could never have occurred otherwise. When Kaidou tried to attack the Whitebeard pirate gang for unknown reasons, it was thwarted by Shanks, who emerged unscathed in Marine Ford shortly after. From this, you can see that Kaidou and Shanks most likely parted ways without a major fight.
Under Shanks’s command, the Red Shirt Pirates is one of the four strongest in the world. Shanks himself started out as a cabin boy on the Oro Jackson, receiving an education from Gol D. Roger and his vice Silvers Rayleigh himself. At their side he fought very early against legends like Whitebeard or Shiki. He also fought legendary duels with Hawkeye more than ten years ago.
Shanks sacrificed his left arm in East Blue when he saved the then 7-year-old Luffy from a sea monster. In the process, he also lent Luffy his straw hat with the promise that he would get it back one day. Since that time, he has been Luffy’s great role model.
Shanks’ strength is most notable for his overwhelming aura of Haoushoku, which brought beads of sweat to even Akainu’s forehead. On Whitebeard’s ship, the unprepared rookies fell in droves and even the railing of the Moby Dick took damage due to the strong Haki. Nothing else is known about Shanks’ exact fighting style, but he also carries a sword, which suggests that he is also a very good swordsman.
But his crew, which seems relatively sedate compared to Whitebeard’s, must also be exceptionally strong. In particular, his vice Benn Beckman and the sergeants Lucky Roux and Yasopp stand out. The presence of Benn Beckman, for example, was reason enough for Kizaru to briefly abandon his attack on Trafalgar Law’s submarine and instead focus on the pirate. Brannew further described them as the most balanced of all the Kaiser gangs, as all the officers were able to make a name for themselves and have high bounties of their own.
Nothing is known about the exact goals of the Redshirt Pirates, though Shanks seems to be something of a “reasoner” among the Four Emperors, as he both tried to convince Whitebeard to call off Ace and stopped Kaidou, ending the war in Marine Ford to prevent further bloodshed. His unchallenged appearance in Mary Geoise during the Levely, as well as his request to speak directly to the Five Elders about a certain pirate, only make his intentions, as well as his position, seem more mysterious.
Thanks to his trading relationship with Donquixote Doflamingo, and with the help of artificially created devil fruits from the criminal scientist Caesar Clown, Kaidou has been able to assemble an army of over 500 warriors with Zoan devil powers. He is considered the strongest creature in the world and seems immortal. He and his gang reside on Wano Country and Onigashima. He is currently in an alliance with Big Mom to conquer the world together.
The first time his name was mentioned was during the Thriller Bark Arc. It turns out that Gecko Moria fought him a long time ago, and his entire crew was slaughtered by Kaidou in the process. In order to eventually get revenge on Kaidou, Moria built himself a zombie army in the Mysterious Triangle.
While preparing for the upcoming war with Whitebeard, Vice Admiral Momonga was informed by one of his men that Kaidou was attempting to attack Whitebeard and was stopped by Shanks. Because of these unexpected occurrences in the New World, naval headquarters was “bathed in a cold sweat.”
Kaidou was next mentioned after the war, when Supernovae X. Drake traveled to a winter island that was one of Kaidou’s favorites, according to one of Kaidou’s minions. Furthermore, the cyborg noted that Kaidou was someone better not to mess with. For reasons unknown, X. Drake was apparently eager to get Kaidou’s attention, as he promptly attacked the island guards. Two years later, trade relations with Donquixote Doflamingo were finally ended after he was defeated by Monkey D. Luffy and arrested by the Navy. Since then, Kaidou has wanted to destroy the entire world in an ultimate war.
Based on the known facts, it seems reasonable to assume that Kaidou – unlike Whitebeard and Shanks – is a rather ruthless pirate captain. One of his closest confidants is the ruthless pirate Jack with a bounty of one billion berries.
Apparently Kaidou is interested in the secret of the Road Poneglyph. He has already brought one of a total of four into his possession.
The headquarters of Big Mom’s pirate gang is on Whole Cake Island. Just like Kaidou, she has contact with the underworld. One of her powerful allies was the head of the Vinsmoke family. Her fleet has also been reinforced by the Sun Pirates under the command of Jinbe, as well as the Fire Tank Pirates led by Capone Bege. She is currently in an alliance with Kaidou to conquer the world together.
Eustass Kid mentioned them along with Shanks and Kaidou as the remaining emperors of the New World.
On Fish-Man Island, Pappag finally gives her real name: Charlotte Linlin. After Whitebeard’s death, she took over the protection of Fishmen’s Island, but demanded a monthly payment in return in the form of sweets, which were specially produced in a factory. Pappag therefore did not rule out the possibility that it might be a purely business relationship for her.
After Daruma destroyed the candy factory, two of Big Mom’s henchmen – Pekoms and Baron Tamago – came to collect the monthly duty. However, all the remaining candy had already been consumed by the Straw Hat Pirates at Neptune’s victory party, which seemed to be very problematic. As a result, the minister to the left called Big Mom a “monster” who would attack an entire country just for candy.
She also has a Road Porn glyph in her possession, however Brook was able to “copy” it. During the events in Totto Land, triggered by Monkey D. Luffy, the Vinsmokes, the Sun Pirates, and the Fire Tank Pirates turned their backs on her, and Big Mom swore revenge on the Straw Hat after his successful escape from her realm.
On Fish-Man Island, the new emperor was finally announced by Jinbe: Marshall D. Teach, aka Blackbeard, filled Whitebeard’s void. Even after the Blackbeard gang had broken Jewelry Bonney’s gang, the Five Elders feared that Teach would soon attain the title of his former captain. They were convinced that only the remaining Yonkous and Whitebeard’s former gang had the potential to stop him. Teach was eventually named emperor a year later. Marco gathered his comrades from Whitebeard’s pirate gang around him and joined them in a war of retaliation against Blackbeard. However, the pirates were unable to defeat their former comrade-in-arms and his crew, and were soundly defeated by him. Teach went on to take the coveted title. Since then, Marco and his allies have retreated from the public eye.
Rumor has it that Teach is currently hunting down strong devil power users to take their abilities after death, just like Whitebeard did. According to Jinbe, they also didn’t waste time taking any islands since they already knew Whitebeard’s territory.
The strength of the gang is very noteworthy. Even two years ago, they were an exceptionally powerful force, consisting of only ten members in total. Among them were Shiryu of the Rain, a former commander of Impel Down who was considered the equal of Warden Magellan, four of Level 6’s most dangerous inmates from Impel Down, as well as Jesus Burgess, Laffitte, Doc Q, and Van Augur, all of whom had sailed with Blackbeard for a long time and must therefore have some strength and experience. Whether other members and allied pirate gangs were added is unclear at this time. Recently, the gang managed to completely destroy the Revolutionary Army’s hideout.
Blackbeard himself has a full two devil powers, the Darkness Logia and Whitebeard’s Earthquake Paramecia, which, according to the Five Elders, no man in history has ever been able to do. He also has incredibly great physical strength: Ace noted that he nearly broke his neck with just one punch. According to Marco, Teach additionally possesses an abnormal body. Blackbeard’s goal is to become pirate king, and he will not shy away from even the most base methods, such as betrayal or the murder of former comrades like Thatch or Whitebeard.
Despite his advanced age of 72, Whitebeard still held the title of “World’s Strongest Man” (jap. 世界最強の男, Sekai Saikyō no Otoko) during his lifetime, implying that he also stood separately above the other emperors. His fearsome devilish strength and formidable stamina, which he displayed in Marine Ford, earned him many other appellations over the years, such as “Legendary Monster”, or “Ruler of the Seas”.
Whitebeard himself was an extremely proud and at the same time warm-hearted man, who put the lives of his men above his own and called them “sons”. His real goal was to make Portgas D. Ace, the son of his rival Gol D. Roger, the pirate king. He also respected only those who were among the greats over 25 years ago, including Sengoku and Garp. He always referred to everyone else as “brats” – whether admiral or emperor.
The Whitebeard Gang was originally divided into 16 divisions of 100 men each, each led by a commander. However, both the 2nd and 4th divisions were without leaders for longer periods of time. Outstanding members were Marco, who took over after Whitebeard’s death, as well as Jozu and Vista. However, the other commanders also proved their strength in the great battle of Marine Ford; only Ace was killed, Curiel seriously wounded, and Jozu lost his right arm.
- The emperors’ island protection is comparable to that of the World Nobles by the admirals. The latter, for example, move completely freely in the middle of the lawless zone on the Sabaody Archipelago because they know that normally no pirate would dare to attack them for fear of the consequences. It is similar with the emperors and their territories.
- The Moby Dick and the Red Force both have a figurehead that is color-coordinated with the epithets of Whitebeard and Shanks respectively – a white whale head, based on the story of Moby Dick, and a red dragon head, based on the famous Viking ships.
- Whether there was also in Gol D. Roger’s time something like the current emperors, is not known. However, even then there were very powerful pirates who had gathered a whole armada of ships under them. Shiki the “Golden Lion”, for example, was one of the greatest pirates of his time, along with Whitebeard and Gol D. Roger.
- The Four Emperors may be a reference to the Roman 4 emperors Galba, Otho, Vespasian and Vitellius who ruled over the Roman Empire in 69 AD. Each of them had their own territory. This year is also known as the Year of the Four Emperors.
- Elizabello’s King Punch is said to be able to defeat one of the Four Emperors.