Episode 224: Blackbeard: The Ultimate Dread Pirate

On this episode of The Sofa King Podcast, we discuss the wild career of the most famous pirate in history, Edward Teach, aka Blackbeard. Teach was thought to have been born in Britain but moved to Jamaica as a child. From there, he became a privateer (a pirate who worked for England) through Queen Anne’s War. After that, he used his naval skills to become one of the wildest pirates ever to set foot in the Caribbean.

Teach was recruited after the war by a pirate named Captain Benjamin Hornigold, and in a very short time, he was promoted to run his own ship in this pirate fleet. Blackbeard earned his stripes and his nickname under Hornigold, and when the senior pirate retired from the life, Blackbeard was left in charge of the ships. He ran his new fleet based on fear of his growing reputation—he even lit his hair on fire before battle to look more fearsome.

From there, Blackbeard went on to capture and recruit several ships, adding to his flotilla’s strength. One man, Stede Bonnet (The Gentleman Pirate) was convinced to join instead of run his plantations. Together, they accomplished one of the great feats of pirate history and took a full frigate and flagship from France. They renamed it Queen Anne’s Revenge, armed with 250 men including ex-slaves, and loaded 40 cannons on it. From that ship, Blackbeard ran a two year terror campaign, capturing over 30 ships and being a general scourge of civilized society.

Unlike the typical stereotype of a pirate only being in remote waters, Blackbeard spent much of his time sacking the east coast the United States. He once famously held an entire town captive for a prolonged period of time until he could get the mayor to give his fleet medicine he needed (to cure an STD?). The story of Blackbeard is a story of allies turned enemy, cunning piracy, amazing naval tactics, and stunning victories. He died in battle, and the details of his death prove he was the badass that his reputation said he was. Listen, laugh, learn.

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