blackbeard myths

In reality, pirates rarely (if ever) buried treasure. The myth comes from the classic story Treasure Island, which Incidentally features a pirate character named Israel Hands, who was Blackboard’s real-life boatswain. Also, much of the loot that Blackboard took consisted of things like barrels of sugar and cocoa which would be worthless today had he buried them. Legend: Blackboard’s dead body swam around the ship three times: Fact: unlikely. This is another persistent Blackboard legend.

What is known for certain is that Blackboard died in battle on November 22, 1718 and his head was cut off so that it could be used to get a bounty. Lieutenant Robert Maynard, the man who untied Blackboard down, does not report that the body swam around the ship three times after it was thrown in the water, and neither did anyone else who was at the scene. It is interesting to note, however, that Blackboard sustained no less than five gunshot wounds and twenty sword cuts before finally dropping dead, so who knows?

If anyone could swim around the ship three times after death, it would be Blackboard. Legend: Blackboard would light his hair on fire before battle: Fact: Sort of. Blackboard wore his black beard and hair very long, but he never actually lit them on fire. He would put little candles or pieces of fuse In his hair and eight those. They would give off smoke, giving the pirate a fearsome, demonic appearance. In battle, this intimidation worked: his foes were terrified of him. Blackboard’s flag was scary, too: it featured a skeleton stabbing a red heart with a spear.

Legend: Blackboard was the most successful pirate ever: Fact: Nope. Blackboard wasn’t even the most successful pirate of his generation: that distinction would go to Bartholomew “Black Bart” Roberts (1682-1722) who captured hundreds of vessels and operated a large fleet of pirate ships. That’s not to say that Blackboard wasn’t successful: he had a very good run from 1717-1718, when he operated the 40-gun Queen Ann.’s Revenge. Blackboard was certainly greatly feared by sailors and merchantmen.

Legend: Blackboard retired from piracy and lived as a civilian for a while: 1 OFF Ann.’s Revenge, into a sand bar, effectively destroying it. He went with some 20 men to see Charles Eden, the Governor of North Carolina and accepted a pardon. For a while, Blackboard lived there as an average citizen. But it didn’t take him long to take up piracy again. This time, he went into cahoots with Eden, sharing the loot in exchange for protection. No one knows if that was Blackboard’s plan all along or if he ally wanted to go straight but simply couldn’t resist a return to piracy.

Legend: Blackboard left behind a Journal of his crimes: Fact: This one is not true. It’s a common rumor, because Captain Charles Johnson, who wrote about piracy around the time Blackboard was alive, cites from a Journal allegedly belonging to the pirate. Other than Johnny’s account, there is no evidence of any Journal. Lieutenant Maynard and his men did not mention one and no such book has ever surfaced. Captain Johnson had a flair for the dramatic, and most likely he Just made up Journal entries when it suited his needs

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