Our tendency to glamorize the antics of pirates goes well beyond our love of Johnny Depp and the Pirates of the Caribbean movie adventure, yet history points towards a far less romantic reality. Let’s take the history of one of the most famous real life pirates, Edward Teach, otherwise known as Blackbeard, who enjoyed a successful reign of terror on the high seas during the late 17th century and committed some of the most dastardly crimes all in the name of pirate honor.
Blackbeard’s Legacy (1680- 1718)
Englishman, Edward Teach became one the most infamous “real” pirates to sail the seas during the Golden Age of Pirates around the turn of the 17th Century. Although he came to a bitter end at the age of only 38 in 1718, he was a menace on the seas for much of that time and was famed for commanding an army of 300 or so pirates, with four ships under his command.
One of the reasons Blackbeard was so feared was not so much that he was a successful pirate but because of the terror he instilled in people and his reputation for the black arts. He was perhaps more theatrical than he was a skilled swordsman and it is said that he actually preferred to avoid fighting. Legend has it that he would storm into battles with his long black hair blazing with fuses burning with smoke, and a sword and cutlass in each hand for dramatic effect. His supernatural terror soon preceded him and it was said that no one would forget having seen him in battle.
The demonic reputation courted by Blackbeard to create his fearsome person continued after his death at 38 when it is said that he was stabbed more than 20 times and short 5 times before he finally died. Stories maintain that even after he was decapitated he rose up taking his headless board overboard where he swam around his ship before finally sinking. Whether or not this legend is true, what remains corroborated by reliable sources is that his head was indeed hung from a pike in England as a prize.
Blackbeard’s romantic life is almost as interesting with stories that he had enough wives for every day of the month. The most famous account, however, is that he once married a 16 year old girl, whom he loved. But she tried to reform him and so he ended up giving her to his crew, demonstrating just what a nasty piece of work he was.
Find out more about famous pirates in our post Top 5 Most Famous Pirates