Blackbeard is probably the most famous pirate in history who is celebrated to this day with an annual pirate festival in his honor, held in Hampton, Virginia, and with statues in the U.S. Virgin Islands and North Carolina.
As for most pirates, very little is known about Blackbeard’s life. He was born as Edward Teach around 1680 in Bristol, England.
By 1717, he had his own, small fleet, and by mid-1718, Blackbeard was the most feared pirate in the Caribbean, and possibly the world.
He seized his flagship, La Concorde, from the French and renamed her Queen Anne’s Revenge. It was a 200-ton ship with 16 cannons used in the slave trade, which Blackbeard equipped with an additional 40 guns.
Blackbeard was so feared that often, when his victims spotted his distinctive flag of a skeleton spearing a heart, they simply surrendered, trading their cargo for their lives.
While in Bath, North Carolina, Blackbeard even accepted a royal pardon from the Governor, the man with whom he traded the plundered goods. With a pardon in his pocket, Blackbeard thought himself above the law.
However, he caught the eye of Alexander Spotswood, the Governor of Virginia, and remained there as a thorn. First, the governor wasn’t fond of pirates, and second, he received numerous complaints from local merchants and sailors who tired of being scared to do business on the water.
Spotswood assigned Lieutenant Robert Maynard to capture or kill the pirate Blackbeard.