Better Know a Pirate: Blackbeard

Blackbeard was the nickname of an English pirate, Edward Teach (or Thatch), who attacked ships in the Caribbean and along the Atlantic coast of North America from 1716 to 1718. He apparently turned to piracy after a career as a privateer during the War of the Spanish Succession. Operating from a base in North Carolina where he shared his booty with the governor, Blackbeard terrorized the coastal settlements of Virginia and the Carolinas. He was finally killed on Nov. 22, 1718, during an engagement with a force sent from Virginia.

Thought to have been active as a privateer for the British during the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-13), Blackbeard was first heard of as a pirate late in 1716. The following year he converted a captured French merchantman into a 40-gun warship, “Queen Anne’s Revenge”, and soon became notorious for outrages along the Virginia and Carolina coasts and in the Caribbean Sea.

In 1718 he established his base in a North Carolina inlet,

forcibly collected tolls from shipping in Pamlico Sound, and made a prize-sharing agreement with Charles Eden, governor of the North Carolina colony. At the request of Carolina planters, the lieutenant governor of Virginia, Alexander Spotswood, dispatched a British naval force under Lieutenant Robert Maynard, who, after a hard fight, succeeded in killing Blackbeard.

The pirate’s body was decapitated, and his head was affixed to the end of the bowsprit of his ship. Apart from the luxuriant black beard which earned him his nickname, the most prominent aspect of the Blackbeard legend is his great buried treasure, which has never been found and probably never existed.

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