Print of 'Captain Teach commonly call'd Black Beard'

A print of 'Captain Teach commonly call'd Black Beard', looking on the viewer, with a smoking beard and standing on a beach as cargo is loaded onto a ship in the background.

Print of 'Captain Teach commonly call'd Black Beard', CC BY National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London

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  • Intro
    Museum's Description
    Teacher notes
    • 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?
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