The (True) “True Story of Blackbeard”

May 18, 2011 Bryce Zabel

There’s just something about that name — Blackbeard — that Hollywood loves. It doesn’t matter what the real details are since nobody in the audience knows them anyway.

What’s important is that Blackbeard, whoever the hell he was, was definitely the biggest of the badass pirates in a world populated by badass pirates.

Even in those days, the early 1700s, hype always exceeded reality. Pirates were feared, but tavern gossip in coastal communities inflated their stories into mythic proportions. They may have been scurvy dudes with non-existent dental care and sexual diseases you don’t even want to know about — just like everyone else of the time — but they were more than that. They were celebrities with great names like Captain Kidd and Calico Jack. And they operated with impunity from the Caribbean to New York in a decades-long orgy of lawlessness. […]