Sunday, January 23, 2011
In 1996, a team of archaeologists from Intersal, Inc found a ship that they believed to be the Queen Anne's Revenge, off the coast of North Carolina. It was once the flagship of one of the most notorious pirates in history, the famed Blackbeard a.k.a. Edward Teach Recently, a sword was recovered from the site and made the news rounds as Blackbeard's sword. While the fact that it was found on the ship might make it possibly a possession of Blackbeard, it was almost certainly not his sword, at least in terms of a weapon that he carried and used.
We can see that it is of a type we can call a small sword, which were dueling weapons, mostly for the upper class. They tended to be very light and somewhat short,easy to wear all day. They are the basis for modern fencing weapons, epee and foil, (they were not based on the rapier as many people think. The rapier was a very long and heavy sword, which required extensive training and strength to use.) It is possible that it once had a bone hilt and it was obviously made with some care and style. I can't tell if the hilt is brass or if it is gilded, but this was obviously the sword of a man of standing, not the cutlass or hanger that were the most common sword types of the era. So it is most likely that this was part of the pirate treasure (I'd say its booty) rather than a weapon used by the pirates. Still, how cool is that?
Blackbeard was not really active as a pirate for a very long time, perhaps only from 1716 to his death in 1718. He was said to be a tall, spare man with a long black beard, often braided, wound with ribbon or in little ponytails.Period accounts also state that he wore a "a sling over his shoulders, with three brace of pistols, hanging in holsters like bandoliers; and stuck lighted matches under his hat" (Johnson, 1724)
The burning fuse in his beard or behind his ears was rumored to be a ploy to to frighten his enemies. Although considering that his game was combat and robbery on the high seas, he might have just used the fuse as an alternate way to fire his cannon and pistols flintlock weapons are seriously flawed under the best of conditions and fighting at sea was not the best of conditions.
However, it has also been noted that Blackbeard was a effective leader, realizing that the more his victims were afraid of him, the less likely that they would give him and serious resistance.
Blackbeard was killed in battle by a small force of sailors under Lieutenant Robert Maynard on November 22, 1718.