Aboard the “Queen Anne’s Revenge“, and crossing the western coasts of Africa and the Caribbean, Blackbeard, one of the most famous and feared pirates in history, spread terror wherever he went, until he was killed on November 22, 1718.
Who was Blackbeard pirate?
Blackbeard’s early life is shrouded in mystery, and little is known about him. This is probably due to the fact that most pirates adopted nicknames to avoid unnecessary publicity in their home countries. However, records show that Blackbeard was a cunning pirate who could read and write and conversed freely with merchants. This may indicate that he came from a wealthy English family, but little is known about his early life.
He is thought to have been born around 1680, and Blackbeard real name may have been Edward Thatch or Edward Teach, depending on the historical record. He has also been pronounced Thatch, Thach, Thache, Thack, Tack, Thatche, and Theach in historical records. This is because there were no standard characters for surnames in the eighteenth century, let alone many written records to support them.
According to Charles Johnson and his General History of the Most Famous Pirates (1724), Blackbeard was most likely an English privateer during the War of the Spanish Succession, also known as Queen Anne’s War, and arrived in the Caribbean in the early 18th century, but there is no reliable evidence for this. What is known is that Teach became a pirate and joined Benjamin Hornigold around 1716, and that he was based in Nassau the pirate’s den, in the Bahamas, because of its convenient access to northern shipping lanes.
The immense amount of hair on the face of Englishman Edward Teach was not the only reason he became known as Blackbeard. The fame spread because, during assaults on enemy ships, Teach lit matches and wicks at the end of his hair. His face, illuminated by the flames, appeared as a demonic image that was forever etched in the memory of enemies. For this and other tactics, he was considered an expert in psychological terror.
He spread terror across the seas in the early 18th century with his ship Queen Anne’s Revenge, equipped with 40 cannons. Despite the reputation of being bloodthirsty and tyrannical, which he himself nurtured, he was a calculating leader who only used force when he deemed it necessary. No prisoner would be harmed, tortured or murdered.
Cunning, he was close to sailors or pirates, but he tried to befriend the authorities of the places he passed. He gave them gifts or orders for looted goods, involving them in a seductive scheme of corruption.
For example, the governor of North Carolina, Charles Eden, offered him a ship when Teach was about to lose his sailing license. Eden again provided him with provisions and married him to a 16-year-old girl, his 14th wife.
It is estimated that Blackbeard was between 35 and 40 years old when he was killed by Lieutenant Robert Maynard and his men of the British Royal Navy. Today, his exploits have become folklore, inspirational tales, books and movies.
How did Blackbeard die ?
On November 22, 1718, Blackbeard death, perhaps the greatest icon of the piracy era, found himself in the lair of Davy Jones. A pirate expression for finding the devil under the sea.
At dawn that day, a surprise attack by the British Royal Navy under the command of Lieutenant Robert Maynard near the northern island of Ocracoke caught the crew of the Adventure off guard and diverted them. Yet the ensuing battle was intense. The powerful guns of Blackbeard’s ship killed about 29 English sailors, two-thirds of the sailors present.
The ensuing duel was bloody and might have ended well for the sea pirates if not for Blackbeard’s presumption and his crew’s lack of training.
The number of wounds on the Adventure’s captain’s body is an indication of the bravery he fought: five bullet wounds and twenty sword wounds. But only those who were there saw it.
After the battle, Blackbeard’s body was thrown into the sea. His head, however, was placed on the bow of the Royal Navy ship to show everyone that one of the greatest pirates of the time was dead. A period that marked the beginning of the hunt for pirates in the Caribbean.
Edward Blackbeard Teach and the Strategy of Terror
One of Blackbeard’s strategies for achieving the glory that still persists, three centuries later, was to appear, in fact, frightening. Aware of the importance of his image to strike terror into his potential victims, he did not skimp on pyrotechnics: he often appeared in battle with multicolored ribbons attached to his long, wild beard.
Some stories say that he also attached slow-burning fuses to his beard and the huge hat he wore, allowing him to be surrounded by smoke throughout the fight, creating an impression of perpetual fog around him and frightening opponents, to whom they compared him to a demon fresh from hell.
However, this is unlikely to be true, given the high risk of facial burns that this strategy would represent. Perhaps closer to the truth is one of the most famous depictions of Blackbeard, in which he appears all dressed in black, with several crossed pistols strapped to his chest.
Regardless of the proportions of myth and reality, the fact is that this fame, over time, has proven to be an excellent deal. Given the approach of Blackbeard and his men, the victims would give up without even fighting. An excellent cost/benefit strategy for the pirate captain and his relatively small troop, causing less damage to captured sloops.
The low lethality, according to some historians, can be proven by the absence of death records directly attributed to Blackbeard. For writer Sarah Clifford, author of The Adventures of Adam Fletcher and descendant of a family that lived on the North Carolina coast for centuries, the image of a bloodthirsty Blackbeard makes far more sense in the Hollywood mythology of pirate films than it actually did in the region.
With his carefully constructed reputation, Edward Teach may have become the most iconic pirate of all. But he was by no means one of those who profited most from their plunder. To name just two, Henry Every, who captured a ship with hundreds of pounds of gold in 1695. Or Bartholomew Roberts, known as Black Bart, who was responsible for the plundering of hundreds of ships at about the same time that Blackbeard was on active duty.
So if there is a treasure that belonged to Edward Teach, it boils down to items taken from the remains of Queen Anne’s Revenge, many of which are priceless, but there is no evidence that the pirate had the time and conditions to amass the amount of gold and jewels that the myths make it seem. And he certainly didn’t bury it in a chest on a treasure island.
On the other hand, despite his relatively modest financial performance, Blackbeard’s talent for fighting battles and building his terrible villain image made him the most famous of all pirates in the history of piracy.
Blackbeard Ship : The Queen Anne’s Revenge
To speak of Blackbeard is to refer to the Queen Anne’s Revenge, a ship with which he terrorized the region for a few intense months. Captured by the pirate captain in November 1717, the 200-ton French slave ship La Concorde, which had a crew of 75 and was already equipped with 16 cannons, was refitted so that another 40 cannons were added.
The Queen Anne in question was the English ruler during the period that Blackbeard served the Crown as a privateer, during the war against Spain and France, and which took place mainly on American lands (and waters). The French ship was captured on its return from a raid in Africa with a cargo of 516 Africans who would be employed as laborers in Martinique as well as over 9 kilos of powdered gold.
After the battle for the ship, Blackbeard left the slaves ashore, took some of the crew and freed the officers to leave on a smaller ship, which they renamed the Bad Encounter. Before returning to Martinique, however, the French once again rounded up the slaves on board.
With Queen Anne’s Revenge properly equipped, Edward Teach struck his boldest blow: the blockade of Charleston Harbor in South Carolina. For a week, the pirate fleet of four ships and 400 men positioned themselves to capture and loot ships entering and leaving the city.
One of the pirate’s demands to free the port and the hostages taken was a shipment of medicines, delivered a few days later. The infamous ship’s days of terror did not last, however. In early June 1718, it ran aground and sank off Beaufort, North Carolina. Some accounts say that Blackbeard purposely beached his now too famous pirate ship to sail on a smaller, more discreet ship of the authorities, the Adventure. The remains of the ship were found nearly 250 years later, in 1996.
Since then, researchers have recovered, among other items, cannons, anchors, musket barrels, navigational instruments, gold nuggets, pewter dishes, a broken glass, part of a sword and, of course, the fragments of Cooke’s book.
Discovery of the wreck of Blackbeard’s Queen Anne’s Revenge
Anchor and cannons
An anchor belonging to the wreck of the legendary pirate Blackbeard’s flagship was discovered nearly 300 years after the ship ran aground on the sea floor. The 1,300-kilogram anchor is one of three from the ship Queen Anne’s Revenge and was lifted off the coast of North Carolina. The operation was conducted in waters 20 feet deep, according to the state’s Department of Cultural Resources.
The ship, which is believed to have run aground near Beaufort in 1718, was recovered in 1996. Since then, 280,000 items have been recovered, including cannons, gold, plates, glass, chains, necklaces and ropes.
The legendary ship Queen Anne’s Revenge, guided by the pirate Blackbeard on expeditions between 1717 and 1718, has revealed new historical evidence that helps to understand pirate performance in the United Kingdom. Recovery work conducted on artifacts found in the ship’s wreckage analyzed 16 fragments of paper.
The letters found raise the hypothesis that the pirate was literate and, perhaps, used to read, contradicting the idea that Blackbeard had a barbaric and ignorant posture. The papers were removed from a cannon mouth that was covered and sealed with a rag, delaying the destruction of the information contained in the letters.
Despite 300 years underwater, the relics managed to be recovered for reading. In 16 letters, seven presented readable text. The found scriptures contained notes from books and copies of excerpts, such as a few paragraphs from a voyage to the South Sea and around the world, by Edward Cooke. In addition to the located section, other sections with incomprehensible words were recovered.
10 Facts about the pirate Blackbeard
Discover some curiosities about the fearsome pirate
1/ Blackbeard’s origin
His original name was Edward Teach, and records indicate that he was born in the coastal city of Bristol, UK. There, he would have entered the shipping business, starting as a sailor during the Spanish wars of succession.
2/ From privateer to pirate
There are rumors that Blackbeard was a privateer during his years at sea, however, there are subtle differences between the name privateer and pirate. Pirates were free to steal whatever cargo they pleased, privateers were hired for specific flights with a letter mark from the government.
3/ A short pirate career
Blackbeard’s fame may send the message that he has been terrorizing the seas for years, but this is not true. In reality, he only commanded ships for two years, from 1716 to 1718.
4/ The origin of his nickname
Logically, the nickname was inspired by his beard, described as long and dark. According to reports, the character wore braids attached to colorful ribbons.
5/ A scary image
In addition to his beard as a trademark, Edward knew that he could very well use his own image to his advantage. He tried to be as scary as possible. Tall, the pirate cultivated a scary look, and preferred to exert his influence over his men and hostages rather than resort to violence.
6/ Blackbeard did not only plunder metals
Buccaneers worked mainly by plundering the metal wealth of the colonies to Europe, such as gold, silver and bronze. But in 1717, Blackbeard worked with the pirate Benjamin Hornigold to plunder 120 kilograms of flour from Havana. Rum was also a prized commodity.
7/ He had a priority of booty
In the same year of the plunder, a ship that had left Portugal for the United States was stolen by the pirate’s crew. However, the outcome of this episode was not quite as expected. Loaded with gold and some treasure, the crew preferred to prioritize other “values” and took all the wine on the ship, leaving behind other riches.
8/ Blackbeard pirate flag
Like any good pirate, Blackbeard also had a Jolly Roger, a name given to pirate flags that usually indicated the same thing: danger. Teach’s flag was a horned skeleton, symbolizing the devil himself, holding a harpoon and hourglass while aiming his weapon at a heart. A black flag different from the simple white skull and crossbones.
9/ A democratic command
Although he became famous as a bloodthirsty and epic pirate, the reality is far from that. Blackbeard did not decide everything by himself and the crew was aware of all the attacks the ship was going to undertake. The crews of the pirate ships followed the pirate code, writings advocating democracy and equality. Also, according to some reports, he was not cruel to his prisoners.
10/ He had the status of Commodore
This is the rank with which he identified himself, a higher category, just above the captain. In the period that earned this title, around May 1718, his fleets blocked the ports of South Carolina, preventing any boat from leaving or entering the port without being sacked by his pirate crew.
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