Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard (circa 1680 – 1718), is probably the most famous pirate of all time. He started his career as a privateer, and in 1716 joined the crew of Benjamin Hornigold, who mentored Blackbeard and taught him the ropes of piracy, and soon made him his first mate and second in commanded, entrusted with his own sloop to operate in conjunction with Hornigold’s main ship.
His appearance was notable and terrifying, with his most defining feature the thick and long black beard from which he derived his nickname. He was in the habit of tying it in braids, each decorated with ribbons. He further enhanced his ferocious image by slinging six pistols across his chest, thrusting a variety of knives and daggers in his belt and, wielding a wicked-looking cutlass. To top it off, he attached slow-burning matches to his beard, which sputtered and emitted thick smoke, and made him appear even more demonic. It was a psychologically effective display, and many ships surrendered at first sight of the ferocious and crazy-looking bearded and smoke-spewing pirate.
After Hornigold retired from piracy in 1717, Blackbeard continued independently on his own. Soon thereafter, he seized a French ship which he remodeled and equipped with 40 cannons, and renaming her the Queen Anne’s Revenge, made her his flagship. He then formed a pirate alliance and used it to commit his most notorious act: a successful blockade of Charleston, South Carolina, holding the city hostage until he was paid a ransom.
In 1718, he accepted a royal pardon, but soon reneged and returned to piracy. Virginia’s governor then ordered an expedition to hunt him down, led by Lieutenant Robert Maynard of the Royal Navy. Maynard tracked Blackbeard with two sloops, and found him on November 22nd, 1718, at anchor on the inner side of Ocracoke Island, off North Carolina. Blackbeard was outnumbered, as most of his men were ashore at the time, but he refused to surrender and put up a fierce fight before he finally went down on the deck of his ship, after taking five bullets and over twenty sword cuts.