The complete story of the dreaded pirate Edward Thatch, AKA Blackbeard, in a 6 minute video with detailed maps of his voyages and notorious deeds.
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Find out how Edward Thatch (or Edward Teach), better known as Blackbeard, became the most dreaded real-life pirate of the Caribbean.
Possibly born in Bristol in England around 1680, he may have served as a sailor or privateer during the War of Spanish Succession (known in America as Queen Anne's War) before turning to high seas larceny in the last 'Golden Age' of piracy.
Blackbeard's pirate career probably began in 1717 while serving as second-in-command to Captain Ben Hornigold, based in the pirate haven of Nassau in the Bahamas. Together they attacked and plundered merchant ships off the eastern seaboard of colonial America. Blackbeard later met 'gentleman pirate' Stede Bonnet, and took over command of his sloop, 'Revenge'. Blackbeard continued to terrorise the Thirteen Colonies, attacking ships bound for eastern seaports including Boston, New York, Philadelphia, the Chesapeake and Charleston.
Blackbeard then sailed to the Windward Islands, and near St.Vincent captured a French frigate, 'La Concorde', which had been converted into a slave ship. Some of the slaves joined Blackbeard's crew, the rest he put ashore. Blackbeard renamed the ship 'Queen Anne's Revenge' and fitted her with 40 guns, making her one of the most powerful ships in the area.
With 'Queen Anne's Revenge' at the head of his small pirate flotilla, Blackbeard attacked ships and settlements from Guadeloupe to the Gulf of Mexico. Spanish sailors nicknamed him 'the Great Devil', and he became the most notorious and feared pirate in the West Indies.
In 1718 Blackbeard sailed to the coast of Florida, where a Spanish treasure fleet had been wrecked three years before. Some pirates had made their fortune searching the wrecks for silver and gold, and Blackbeard's men spent several weeks diving the wrecks. But they had little success.
Next, in the most audacious move of his pirate career, Blackbeard, with four ships, blockaded the port of Charleston, capital of the British colony of South Carolina. For six days he stopped all ships entering or leaving the harbour, plundered them, and took their passengers and crew hostage to be ransomed back to the town.
Moving up the east coast of America looking for a hideaway, Blackbeard's flagship 'Queen Anne's Revenge' ran aground entering a shallow inlet, and sank. By now Blackbeard's crew was over-large and unruly, and some speculate that Blackbeard sank his ship on purpose, to disband his crew and increase his own share of the plunder they were carrying. Now he marooned the most discontent of his men (they were later rescued by Stede Bonnet) and sailed in a spare sloop to Bath with 60 of his best crew. At Bath, then capital of North Carolina, they accepted a royal pardon from the governor, as part of a general pirate amnesty that had been offered by the British government.
Blackbeard was not content with civilian life, and from his new base at Ocracoke Island in the Outer Banks, he soon returned to piracy, robbing two French ships out at sea. Alexander Spotswood, Lieutenant Governor of the neighbouring colony, Virginia, was outraged at the prospect of having the infamous, recidivist pirate Blackbeard operating on his doorstep. Although North Carolina was out of his jurisdiction, Spotswood organised a naval expedition to kill or capture Blackbeard. Led by Lieutenant Maynard, Royal Navy, the expedition caught Blackbeard by surprise at Ocracoke Island. In the viscous battle that followed, Blackbeard nearly prevailed, though outnumbered 3 to 1, but he was finally overpowered and killed.
Blackbears's career lasted less than two years, but created a legend that endures to this day. His story became the basis for countless pirate myths that remain popular around the world. But one of the most interesting facts about Blackbeard is usually ignored – there is no record of him torturing, murdering or behaving cruelly to any of his prisoners or crew. Instead, the real Blackbeard used terror to make his enemies surrender quickly, and violence only as a last resort.
N.B. There are no precise records of most of Blackbeard's voyages or attacks. Those depicted in this video are carefully researched but intended to give an accurate impression of his exploits, rather than a precise record of exact routes or attacks. Similarly, there are no accurate contemporary images of Queen Anne's Revenge, so artistic license has been taken with a ship of similar size and type.
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