The story of Blackbeard – fact or fiction?

Blackbeard 300

Pirate’s Quest has spent 2018 commemorating the 300th Anniversary of the death of Captain Blackbeard. Little is known about the infamous buccaneer, with large parts of his history cloaked in myth and mystery, and other false information being circulated purely to add to his dastardly reputation.

 

We’ve gathered our favourite selection of Blackbeard knowledge and tales for you to ponder over and decide if they are fact or fiction…

 

Bristolian Roots:

Blackbeard’s birth name was Edward Teach, born in Bristol around 1680. Later, it is said he and his family resided in Jamaica.

The Look of a Demon:

He became known as Blackbeard having grown a large black beard that covered most of his face, which he would twist into small tails and tie with ribbons. To look more menacing, Blackbeard would light slow match fuses and hang these under his hat resulting in smoke and sparks. All of this, accompanied with his body sash displaying not one, but three pistols, made him appear to be a pirate not to be messed with.

 

Noble Beginnings:

He is reported to have served as a privateer during Queen Anne’s War (1701 – 1714), and turned to piracy sometime after the war’s conclusion.

 

The Company of Pirates:

It is said Blackbeard operated in conjunction with two other pirate captains, Benjamin Hornigold and Stede Bonnet. Blackbeard served as an apprentice under Hornigold before becoming a pirate captain in his own right.

 

His Villainous Vessel:

In 1717 the pirates were sailing the Caribbean, when Blackbeard and his fellow buccaneers captured the French slaveship, ‘La Concorde’, a vessel he kept as his flagship ship and renamed ‘Queen Anne’s Revenge’.

 

A Growing Fleet:

Blackbeard, with this new ship, cruised the Caribbean, taking prizes and adding to his fleet. By April 1718, the pirates were near the Turneffe Islands in the Bay of Honduras where Blackbeard captured ‘The Adventure’, forcing its captain, David Herriot, to join him. The pirates, led by Blackbeard also captured a Spanish sloop on the border of Cuba which they added to their flotilla.

 

Reign of Fear:

Earning fame as a ruthless pirate, Blackbeard terrorized sailors and ambushed passenger and cargo ships in the dim light of the dawn. Often the crew of the ships would surrender without putting up a fight, purely because of Blackbeard’s fierce reputation. The next several years became known as his ‘Reign of Fear’.

 

The End of an Era:

A proclamation was introduced promising one hundred pounds to the person who captured or killed Captain Blackbeard. Royal Navy Lieutenant Robert Maynard, was the person to eventually defeat Blackbeard… but as you can imagine, it wasn’t an easy defeat. Legend has it that Blackbeard received five gunshot wounds and twenty stab wounds before finally falling to his death. Maynard kept the grim trophy of Blackbeard’s severed head, while his body was thrown overboard and is said to have circled the ship three times before sinking.

 

Fact or fabrication, there can be no doubt that Captain Blackbeard was not only one of the most influential pirates of the Golden Age, but also one of the most infamous names in history, even 300 years after his death.