Everyone knows about Blackbeard, the famous pirate who is today known as one of the most successful pirates to ever sail the seas. We maybe know how ruthless he was, but do you know much about his personal life? What about his final days? What happened at the end of his life? Unfortunately, as you can probably guess, it wasn’t a joyful tale.

His unknown private life

Not much is known about pirates and their personal lives. That includes Blackbeard. Even though he has a legendary reputation, little is known about his early life. Even his birth name is unknown, though historians believe it was a form of either Edward Thatch or Edward Teach. It’s been reported the future pirate served as a privateer (working on a military merchant ship) during Queen Anne’s War. He turned to piracy after the war and he never looked back. No one probably expected him to become the most skillful pirate of all time.

Becoming an apprentice  

By the summer of 1717, Blackbeard was known to other pirates as a beginner. He operated off the coasts of Delaware and the Chesapeake Bay, working in conjunction with two other pirate ship captains, Benjamin Hornigold and Stede Bonnet. Blackbeard wanted to learn from Hornigold, who had already proven to be successful, so he became Hornigold’s apprentice. Following Hornigold, the pirates arrived in the eastern Caribbean Sea in the fall of 1717. This is where they captured the French slave ship La Concorde, a vessel Blackbeard would claim as his flagship, renaming it Queen Anne’s Revenge. Following this, Blackbeard decided he was ready to leave Hornigold and venture out on his own.

A fierce pirate

Blackbeard continued to cruise the Caribbean in late 1717, taking prizes from victims. He plundered as many ships as he could find. By April 1718, the pirate and his crew were off the Turneffe Islands in the Bay of Honduras when he captured the ship Adventure, forcing the ship’s captain, David Herriot, to join his crew. Blackbeard was so convincing that people would have to be dumb to refuse his requests. If you refused, you suffered an unfortunate fate. Blackbeard was a fierce, successful pirate, so what happened to the pirate for him to lose everything he gained? In April 1718, Blackbeard was a pirate no one wanted to mess with, but he was dead by November 1718. What happened in those last seven months of his life?

His unfortunate decline

In May 1718, Blackbeard considered abandoning his life as a pirate. He traveled up the Atlantic coastline and said he would give up his plunderous lifestyle, but he eventually returned to his high seas treachery. Near Bermuda in August 1718, Blackbeard captured two French ships with cocoa and sugar. He decided to be a full-time pirate and would plunder ships until he fell victim to a trap in November 1718.

Blackbeard anchored his ship off the southern tip of Ocracoke Island when Lieutenant Robert Maynard, one of the pirate’s enemies, ordered his ships to advance on the pirate. On the morning of November 22, 1718, Blackbeard realized he was surrounded and tried to make a run for it. Author Eric Jay Dolin said, “Blackbeard had quite a shock and must have been thrown off balance a bit with the number of sailors who came up ready to bounce.”

Six minutes of intense fighting soon followed, involving swords, fist fighting, and guns. Blackbeard ultimately died during the battle and his head was severed—something many would have considered a prize. But even though Blackbeard died on that unfortunate day, his legacy was born in his death. As more historians learned about him and the many stories involving him, he gained popularity. Today, he is remembered as one of the most victorious pirates of all time. Ahoy, matey!