Print of 'Captain Teach commonly call'd Black Beard', CC BY National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
This is the closest thing we have to knowing what the infamous pirate
Captain Blackbeard looked like. The artist never saw him but this image, held at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, London, was made
not too long after his death in 1718.
Blackbeard saw most action in the seas of the Caribbean because British pirates attacked Spanish ships bringing back silver from the mines they controlled there. Blackbeard, whose real name was Edward Teach, earned himself a fearsome reputation as a man not to be meddled with. Legend has it he lit little candles or pieces of fuse in his hair before going into a fight, giving him a fearsome, demonic appearance!
A life as a pirate and a wanted man was filled with peril and so he was a comparatively successful pirate, amounting riches and living to the age of an ancient 38 years old! He was killed in a raid led by a Lieutenant Maynard. Maynard cut off his head and sailed back to base with it hung under the bowsprit of Blackbeard’s own ship, ‘Adventure’.
Did you know many pirates did not start out as rebels working for themselves, but were actually employed by the government to attack the enemies of the British and take their treasure? They were called privateers.
You can learn more about this image on the National Martime Museum's website.
Things to think about:
- Why do you think a lot of privateers became pirates?
- What kind of dangers did pirates face?
- What would be your pirate name?
Teaching students about Pirates can be a fun way of introducing them to
the idea of global trade, trading hotspots such as the Caribbean and the
potential riches of maritime trade.
Royal Museums Greenwich have a number of Pirate related learning resources on their website, here are just a few:
- This is the best known, near-contemporary portrait of Blackbeard (Edward Teach) although the artist had never seen him. Teach had been killed on 22 November 1718 in a skirmish with a force sent against him. He was himself reportedly killed by a Scottish seaman called Evander Mackevoy (a tailor by trade) in a hand to hand-to-hand cutlass fight that left Mackevoy with two large head scars as souvenirs.
- This is the closest thing we have to knowing what the infamous pirate Captain Blackbeard looked like. The artist never saw him but this image, held at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, London, was made not too long after his death in 1718.