Blackbeard often fought or simply showed himself wearing multiple swords, knives, and pistols, and especially became known for lighting matches tied to his long beard during battle. This image, which he cultivated, has made him the premier image of the seafaring pirate.
Little is known about his early life, though it is believed he was born in Bristol, England in 1680. His career began as a seaman on privateers sailing out of Jamaica during the War of the Spanish Succession ( 1701-1713), and later served aboard a Jamaican ship commanded by the pirate, Benjamin Hornigold. He was eventually made a captain while serving under Hornigold when they captured the French merchant ship the "Concorde" which he renamed the "Queen Annes Revenge."
He was nicknamed Blackbeard because of his massive beard, and in 1716–1718 he acquired a fearsome reputation for cruelty after repeatedly preying on shipping and coastal settlements of the West Indies and the Atlantic coast of North America.
Blackbeard kept headquarters in both the Bahamas and the Carolinas. The governor of North Carolina, Charles Eden, received booty from Blackbeard in return for unofficial protection and gave him an official pardon.
Despite this Blackbeard went back to piracy after a few weeks. As his violent raids increased, the governor of North Carolina lost patience and sent troops to hunt him down. Blackbeard was later cornered and then shot and stabbed more than 25 times by a British boarding party off the coast of Virginia.
Legend has romanticized Blackbeard, and he has been the subject of book, movies, and documentaries. His ship was discovered near Beaufort, North Carolina in 1996, and is now part of a major tourist attraction.