Pirates. Hearing the word instantly engenders images of sailing through dangerous waters, daring swordfights, naval battles with cannon fire and smoke, and of course buried treasure. In today’s world, the term “pirate” brings to mind the popular Disney character Captain Jack Sparrow. The character’s adventurous antics coupled with his comedic, chaotic neutral personality portray piracy as something of an endearing occupation full of action and fun. In terms of nonfictional, infamous pirates, there is one who is arguably the most renown pirate in all of history who had quite the impact on the state of Virginia. This man’s name was Edward Teach, and he called himself Blackbeard.
More frightening than his actions by far was Blackbeard’s physical appearance. Indeed, numerous accounts give a large focus to his looks, which only served to broaden his reputation. A detailed document about pirates published in 1724 noted that many great Romans chose a name based on a physical feature, which may have inspired Blackbeard’s choice due to the large, bushy black beard he proudly wore, which grew so thickly it covered his face and “frightened America more than any comet that has appeared there a long time.” His beard he often wore twisted into multiple braids with black ribbons while arming himself with multiple pistols along with assorted daggers and a cutlass. However, one of the most terrifying aspects of Blackbeard’s countenance included a particular proclivity for pyrotechnics, wherein he would take lit, slow-burning fuses and stick them under his hat, framing the sides of his face with fire and smoke. Together with his fierce eyes and intense gaze, the sight of Blackbeard alone struck opponents with such fear that they would often yield without a fight.
Click the video below for more information about Blackbeard's appearance.