The Queen Anne's Revenge: Blackbeard's Mighty Pirate Ship

Blackbeard's Pirate Ship

'Mayflower II replica at sunset, Massachusetts'
VisionsofAmerica/Joe Sohm / Getty Images

The Queen Anne's Revenge was a massive pirate ship commanded by Edward "Blackbeard" Teach in 1717-18. Originally a French slaving vessel that Blackbeard captured and modified, it was one of the most formidable pirate ships ever, carrying 40 cannons and enough room for plenty of men and loot.

The Queen Anne's Revenge was capable of fighting off nearly any Navy warship afloat at the time. It sank in 1718, and many believe that Blackbeard scuttled it on purpose.

The wreck has been found and has turned up a treasure trove of pirate artifacts.

From Concorde to Queen Anne's Revenge

On November 17, 1717, Blackbeard captured La Concorde, a French slaving vessel. He realized that it would make a perfect pirate ship. It was large yet fast and big enough to mount 40 cannons on board. He renamed it Queen Anne's Revenge: the name referred to Anne, Queen of England and Scotland (1665-1714). Many pirates, including Blackbeard, were Jacobites: this meant that they favored the return of the throne of Great Britain from the House of Hanover to the House of Stuart. It had changed hands after Anne's death.

The Ultimate Pirate Ship

Blackbeard preferred to intimidate his victims into surrendering, as fights were costly. For several months in 1717-18, Blackbeard used the Queen Anne's Revenge to effectively terrorize shipping in the Atlantic. Between the massive frigate and his own fearsome appearance and reputation, Blackbeard's victims rarely put up a fight and handed over their cargoes peacefully.

  He plundered the shipping lanes at will. He was even able to blockade the port of Charleston for a week in April of 1718, looting several ships. The town gave him a valuable chest full of medicines to make him go away.

The Queen Anne's Revenge Sinks

In June of 1718, the Queen Anne's Revenge hit a sandbar off of North Carolina and had to be abandoned.

Blackbeard took the opportunity to make off with all of the loot and a select few of his favorite pirates, leaving the others (including hapless pirate Stede Bonnet) to fend for themselves. Because Blackbeard went legit (sort of) for a little while after that, many thought he scuttled his flagship on purpose. Within a few months, Blackbeard would return to piracy and on November 22, 1718, he was killed by pirate hunters in a pitched battle off of North Carolina.

The Wreck of the Queen Anne’s Revenge

In 1996, a shipwreck believed to be that of the Queen Anne's Revenge was discovered off of North Carolina. For 15 years it was excavated and studied, and in 2011 it was confirmed to be Blackbeard's ship. The shipwreck has yielded many interesting artifacts, including weapons, cannons, medical gear and a massive anchor.

Many of the artifacts are on display at North Carolina's Maritime museum and can be viewed by the public. The opening of the exhibit drew record crowds, a testament to Blackbeard's lasting reputation and popularity.

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Minster, Christopher. "The Queen Anne's Revenge: Blackbeard's Mighty Pirate Ship." ThoughtCo, Oct. 13, 2017, thoughtco.com/the-queen-annes-revenge-2136283. Minster, Christopher. (2017, October 13). The Queen Anne's Revenge: Blackbeard's Mighty Pirate Ship. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/the-queen-annes-revenge-2136283 Minster, Christopher. "The Queen Anne's Revenge: Blackbeard's Mighty Pirate Ship." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/the-queen-annes-revenge-2136283 (accessed November 20, 2017).