Lifestyle, Ludotheque

Blackbeard… feared in the seas

Despite his legendary reputation, very little is in fact known about the most fearsome pirate in the Atlantic and the Caribbean in the 18th century.

Silvio González

This was the idea which inspired famous writer Robert Louis Stevenson to create his characters for his novel “Treasure Island.”

Blackbeard, whose original name was Edward Teach, was born in England but historians believe he was a pirate from the north of Carolina as the majority of his attacks and approaches took place there.

He gave himself a striking image, aided by his abnormal height, which he liked to show to the public as he went out wearing a tricorn hat and armed with several colourful swords, knives and three different types of calibre guns.

To top it all off, he spruced up his dark beard by hanging cannon fuses off it like ornaments and lit them when he entered battle.

Those who saw him fight said he looked like the devil due to his terrifying stare and the cloud of smoke which encircled his head.

He started as a very young marine during the years of the Spanish War of Succession (1700-1713) watching pirate ships sailed past until he joined the crew of the reputable British pirate Benjamin Hornigold.

According to researchers Richard Lawrence and Mark Wilde-Ramsing he then took command and with his ship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge, plundered the Caribbean and the Atlantic coast of North America for two years.

His favourite tactic was to pursue merchant vessels and direct them down dangerous shipping channels which he knew well, board the vessels and take seize all their valuable possessions.

Blackbeard’s reign of terror won him reputation as the most bloodthirsty pirate of the seven seas, as the ships which were ruthlessly captured were sent to the cannons.

It was a real blight for the Spanish and French ships in the 18th century, especially on the South Western coasts of the USA, where today there lays the remains of more than two thousand ships sunk by storms or gunfire.

The fugitive conducted his operations with the explicit royal permission of Queen Anne and sent all the captains of the defeated vessels to be executed.

Some historians say that he forced his enemies eat their own ears after having personally cooked them, and he committed inhumane torture on prisoners regardless of their rank or lineage.

Other accounts state that he once had 14 women, but there is no documentation to confirm it.

The enclaves of the Atlantic traders lost patience with the misdeeds of Blackbeard and they sought help from the Virginian Governor, Alexander Spotswood, who sent his troops in pursuit led by Lieutenant Robert Maynard.

They reached the pirate’s ship near the island of Ocracoke on 2 December 1718, when most of Blackbeard’s crew were ashore.

Maynard’s men and cannons outnumbered those of the pirates at a ratio of three to one, so the bandits were defeated in unequal combat. Blackbeard died after receiving various sword wounds and being shot five times.

Digging

A group of American archaeologists attempted to bring the Queen Anne’s Revenge boat to the surface, which 300 years ago sank with the most ruthless pirate and his crew.

The remains of the famous ship lay 10 metres deep on the shoals off the coast of North Carolina, where it was found by a team of specialists in shipwrecks.

After many years of looking into the hull of the ship, archaeologists from the University of North Carolina and the Institute of Marine Science extracted a cannon and an immense anchor from the ship.

he experts know that they will not find treasures in the shipwreck; the true wealth is hidden by one of the most exciting pieces of the still largely unknown history of piracy.

The prominent Cuban poet Eliseo Diego wrote, on one occasion, that the old pirate could be described as an honest woman: they do not have a story. (PL)

(Translated by: Emma Waring –  Email: em_waring@hotmail.co.uk)

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