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Ten things you need to know about Blackbeard the pirate

Blackbeard is one of the most famous pirates in history. He has a reputation for being a ferocious killer who sailed the seven seas on his flagship Queen Anne’s Revenge.

But is it all true?

In You're Dead To Me, Greg Jenner and his guests discuss the life and crimes of the infamous Captain Blackbeard.

Here are some of the surprising things they learn...

Blackbeard podcast

Greg Jenner and his guests learn about the infamous pirate Blackbeard! Listen to the podcast

1. Aye aye, my lover!

Blackbeard was born in Bristol.

Blackbeard tied burning tapers into his beard to create a fearsome appearance.

2. Blackbeard was a pseudonym

He wasn’t born Baby Blackbeard – his real name was Edward Teach.

3. Who’s afraid of big bad Blackbeard?

Some historians argue that there is little evidence that Blackbeard was a particularly violent pirate and, instead, relied on his ferocious appearance to intimidate people into surrender.

His fabled signature moves included tying burning tapers into his beard and using wax to curl his beard up and around his ears to give himself a more monstrous appearance.

4. Blackbeard drank rum mixed with gunpowder

According to Robert Lee, a biographer of Blackbeard, he was known to impress his tavern companions by guzzling an explosive cocktail of rum mixed with gunpowder (yum).

Did pirates really wear eyepatches?

Dr Rebecca Simon says our perception of pirates is influenced by Treasure Island.

5. Blackbeard didn’t live the pirate life for very long

Despite being one of the most notorious pirates in history, Blackbeard was an active pirate with his own command for just two years.

6. Blackbeard probably had syphilis

When he held prisoners for ransom, such as the Governor’s son during the week-long Charlestown blockade in 1718, he asked for expensive medical supplies. This included mercury which, when injected through a urethral syringe, was a common (ineffective) treatment for syphilis. Shudder.

7. Blackbeard really liked to get married

Blackbeard had up to 14 wives in different ports. Eat your heart out, Henry VIII!

8. Captain Blackbeard? More like Captain Beach Party!

In 1718, Blackbeard had a boozy knees-up over several days with pirates Jack Rackham and Charles Vane on Ocracoke Island.

Blackbeard relied on his ferocious appearance to intimidate people into surrender

9. Blackbeard died in gruesome combat

On 22 November 1718 the Governor of Virginia (Alexander Spotswood) arranged for a small force of soldiers and sailors to attack Blackbeard. Blackbeard was killed and reportedly suffered five gunshot wounds and around twenty sword lashes. Ouch!

Blackbeard had up to 14 wives in different ports!

10. Blackbeard’s head went on a tour after his death

Blackbeard was decapitated and his head was displayed on the bowsprit of his ship Adventure. Legend has it that his skull was encased in silver and used as a drinking vessel. Cheers!