Queen Anne’s Revenge: why was Blackbeard's flagship named after the Stuart queen?
Queen Anne’s Revenge was a terrifying sight to sailors, as it was captained by one of the Caribbean’s most dreaded pirates…
One of the most feared pirates to ever sail the seas was Edward Teach, more commonly known as Blackbeard. Believed to have been raised in Bristol in around 1680, he was probably employed as a privateer before being taken under the wing of prolific Caribbean pirate Benjamin Hornigold.
In November 1717, he captured the French frigate La Concorde, which was transporting several hundred slaves between Juda on the coast of West Africa and Martinique in the Caribbean. The ship’s crew, outnumbered and weak after a long and arduous Atlantic crossing, were soon overcome and La Concorde’s captain, Pierre Dosset, surrendered to Blackbeard.
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The ship was adapted to make it suitable for its nefarious activities: extra guns were added and any slaves that didn’t join the crew were eventually sold on. With room for 300 crew and 40 guns, the vessel, renamed Queen Anne’s Revenge – thought to be a nod to Blackbeard’s Jacobite beliefs and his desire to see the Stuart dynasty and Queen Anne’s heirs restored to the throne – became the flagship of his fleet.
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On 22 November 1718, six months after Queen Anne’s Revenge had been run aground and abandoned, a bloody battle brought Blackbeard’s rule to an end.
Taking place just off the coast of North Carolina on board the pirate ship Adventure, Lieutenant Robert Maynard engaged Blackbeard in hand-to-hand combat – the fearsome pirate suffered 20 cutlass wounds, five pistol shots and was beheaded. His body was thrown overboard and his head tied to the prow of Maynard’s ship.
Queen Anne's Revenge: five facts
124 – approximate crew
30.4 metres – the Queen Anne Revenge's length
8.53 metres – the Queen Anne Revenge's max width
40 – the number of cannons on board, according to historical accounts
1,500 kilograms – the weight of the ship’s anchor. Raising it could take as long as an hour
Dr Rebecca Simon responds to your questions on the 17th-century golden age of piracy and discusses how accurate pop culture portrayals of pirates are on this episode of the HistoryExtra podcast
This content first appeared in the December 2021 issue of BBC History Revealed